Bigley 'will survive', says negotiator

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A senior Muslim negotiator involved in trying to free Ken Bigley, the British hostage in Iraq, has expressed guarded optimism he will be freed, and the Irish government has stepped up efforts to secure the release of the 62-year-old civil engineer, whose mother is from Ireland.

A senior Muslim negotiator involved in trying to free Ken Bigley, the British hostage in Iraq, has expressed guarded optimism he will be freed, and the Irish government has stepped up efforts to secure the release of the 62-year-old civil engineer, whose mother is from Ireland.

Following a request for help by the Bigley family, Ireland's new Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, spoke yesterday to the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Dr Marwan Mouasher. Jordan is thought to have played a role in securing the release of two Italian aid workers last week.

Mr Bigley, originally from Liverpool, is now in his 18th day of captivity after being seized from his home in Baghdad by the Islamic terrorist group Tawhid and Jihad, which is allegedly run by a close ally of al-Qa'ida, the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

But Dr Daud Abdullah, who led a delegation from the Muslim Council of Britain to Baghdad last week, said he personally believes the Briton is still alive and will be released. "I feel he will [survive]," Dr Abdullah said. "If they had wanted to kill him, they would have done so. I don't think they want to murder him but they want something out of it politically - apart from humiliating Tony Blair and the Government."

Hopes that Mr Bigley will be freed were buoyed by reports in a Kuwaiti newspaper yesterday that Zarqawi could be prepared to ransom Mr Bigley. The paper quoted one source as claiming "he wants to show that the British government is unable to defend its own citizens in Iraq because it got itself into an illegal war".

The campaign to win over Iraqi popular support for Mr Bigley intensified further yesterday when a fresh appeal from the MCB was published in two Baghdad newspapers. On Friday, another 100,000 leaflets appealing directly to the kidnappers were distributed around the city.

The affair took a sudden twist when Mr Bigley's brother Paul claimed that British and Dutch intelligence agents had raided his home in Amsterdam last week and taken copies of all his computer files - allegedly looking for evidence that he had been secretly in contact with the kidnappers. His claims were quickly rejected by both the British and Dutch authorities. A Dutch official said police liaison officers from both countries had visited Mr Bigley's home with his agreement to see if they could glean helpful information.

Comments