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The Kidnappers Request the Retreat of the Romanian Troops from Iraq

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23 Apr 2005 - 00:00

Yesterday, Al-Jazeera TV station had broadcasted a new recording with the Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq.



  • By MARINA CONSTANTINOIU
  • EVENT

  • With the help of Marie-Jeanne Ion’s voice, the kidnappers give the authorities in Bucharest a four-day ultimatum for retreating the Romanian troops from Iraq, otherwise the journalists will be terminated. For the first time, the group declines its identity: Muad bin Jebel. This is not one of the terrorist groups known by now. The recording shows the three journalists surrounded by the terrorists, handcuffed and crying, with a terrified face as well. Marie-Jeanne Ion asked the Romanians to go out in the streets and make public demonstrations for the retreat of the troops. In the same time, Mohamed Munaf is also in the recording, also being gun threatened.

    Free Journalists for Troops Retreated from Iraq

    Yesterday afternoon, Al-Jazeera TV station broadcasted new recordings with the Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq guarded by terrorists. Mohamed Munaf, the Iraqi-American-Romanian citizen, who chaperoned them, was there too.

    According to Al-Jazeera, the terrorist group which has the Romanian journalists - Marie-Jeanne Ion, Sorin Miscoci and Ovidiu Ohanesian - has requested, in exchange of freeing the three, the retreat of the Romanian troops from Iraq in four-days time. Otherwise, the four will be killed, says the quoted source. The recordings show the Romanians with their hands tied up.

    STATEMENTS

    A spokesperson of the Al-Jazeera TV station that the person who had spoken was Marie-Jeanne Ion, the Prima TV reporter who also spoke in the first video recording broadcasted after their kidnapping. The spokesperson stated that the journalists were in good condition, but, from the broadcasted images, one could not have drawn this conclusion.

    IDENTIFICATION

    The name of the group that’s holding the three, is Muad Bin Jebel, as Al-Jazeera stated. The pan-Arabian TV station, with the headquarters in Qatar and satellite broadcasting, is the same TV station that broadcasted images with the Romanian journalists in Iraq two days after their disappearance in Baghdad.

    THE CLAIM

    After broadcasting the news, Al-Jazeera continued scrolling information regarding this claim, saying twice that the retreat of the Romanian troops from Iraq is requested. One information says that "the kidnapped journalists ask the Romanian Government for the retreat of the troops", and another says that the "group that is holding them gives a four day long ultimatum". The group’s message also says that the Romanian people are asked to go out in the streets and make public demonstrations for the retreat of the troops from Iraq.

    MUNAF SPEAKS TO BUSH

    Al-Jazeera also stated that Mohamed Munaf also appears in the recording and he spoke to American President George W. Bush, and asked to do something for his freeing. This is the first time when the kidnappers of the Romanian journalists make a clear claim.

    Romanian President, Traian Basescu, came back to Romania from Moldova, sooner than programmed, because of the appearance of this tape. Basescu hurried back from Chisinau, one hour before the other Presidents present at the GUAM reunion.

    April 13 - President Basescu Spoke about the Troops in Iraq

    In the press statement from April 13, without being asked by anyone, President Traian Basescu spoke about the presence of the Romanian troops in Iraq. "All I can tell you is that the Romanian Army - I have heard this kind of speculations, and the Iraqi people know this very well - is keeping peace in the places it is, peace for the people in its responsibility region and it is an army which is in very good relations to the civilians. The Romanian Army didn’t make war, it maintained order, peace and safety for the citizens in its responsibility region and will accomplish its mission", was the message of the President which proves to be for the kidnappers.

    However, at that time, say sources close to the negotiators, the kidnappers hadn’t made any political claims.

    On March 28, when he visited the Romanian soldiers in Iraq, President Traian Basescu stated that Romania doesn’t have a strategy of reducing the number of the military troops. It will continue to take part in the missions it took part in by now, the ones of reconstruction and stabilization. One day after his visit in the operations’ theatre, the three journalists and their chaperon, Mohamed Munaf, were kidnapped, but it hadn’t been considered to be related in any way to Basescu’s presence in the region. (Oana Stancu)

    AL-JAZEERA IN THE HANDS OF AL-QAEDA

    Few days ago, we contacted the embassy of the Iraqi Republic in Bucharest, in order to find some information on the Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq. Afterwards, the embassy told us it couldn’t make such comments. As a conclusion, the interview was about the new internal and external politics of Baghdad. Among others, Ambassador Adel Murad said that Ossama ben Laden’s network controls Al-Jazeera TV station. "Qatari TV station Al-Jazeera is financed by Al-Qaeda. It is the Al-Qaeda press centre. This isn’t unbelievable. The Americans are in good relation to Qatar. The greatest USA base is in Qatar. The secret relations between them are unknown. Al-Jazeera makes public all the terrorist acts. They show innocent people having their heads chopped of", the ambassador of the Iraqi Republic in Bucharest told us.

    UNKNOWN GROUP

    The group that says it holds the journalists now is not a known one, say sources close to the negotiators, it hadn’t appear by now. This is the first time it states its identity, say the same sources. They say that yesterday’s political claims are a conclusion of the last days when the group oscillated between several economical claims discussed with the negotiators, when they tried to obtain from the kidnappers a new proof of the fact the journalists were alive, because they didn’t have any information on their condition for the last 10 days. The quoted sources confirmed the journalists weren’t in the hands of their initial kidnappers. In fact, President Traian Basescu suggested this in his statement on April 13, when he said he didn’t want "to comment,or to say what was the process they went through" and assured that "this wasn’t easy compared to the initial phase". (Oana Stancu)

    HANDCUFFED AND FRIGHTENED

    In the new video tape, the kidnapped journalists are dressed with other clothes than the ones in which they were at first, also broadcasted by Al-Jazeera. The three are sitting by a wall, with bare feet, handcuffed and threatened with two guns. The speaker, Marie-Jeanne Ion is in the centre surrounded by Sorin Miscoci and Ovidiu Ohanesian. Miscoci and Ohanesian have beards, and Marie-Jeanne, who hasn’t the shawl on her head, has her hair tousled and seems to be crying. They are all in much worse Physical condition, and Ohanesian seems to be quite indolent. The one that seems to be Munaf appears in a separate image, sitting on the floor. He is also handcuffed and threatened with two machine guns. He has beard and seems frightened.

    Translation : SORIN BALAN
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