Friday, June 17, 2005

“God bless America. You don't know how pleased I am to see you" 

You are an Australian hostage when the first things you ask your family about upon your release are:

a) beer
b) football results
c) your wife
d) all of the above

Yes, it's d). Actually, Douglas Wood's first words overall were: "God bless America. You don't know how pleased I am to see you."

Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of his rescue. Version 1:
After six emotionally draining weeks, the breakthrough for the emergency response team in Baghdad came early on Wednesday when an Iraqi informant walked in off the street with the vital clues that led Iraqi troops to a suburban house where Douglas Wood was being held.

An exhausted Nick Warner, who had been leading the Australian team around the clock, immediately contacted the US and Iraqi military to pass on the information.

As luck would have it, Iraqi army units, aided by US troops, were already in the area conducting systematic cordon and search operations as part of a continuing operation codenamed Lightning.

Within minutes, soldiers from the Iraqi army's 1st Brigade, assisted by the US military, had pinpointed a house in the Sunni-dominated Ghazaliya district.

Warner confirmed yesterday there had been "some specific intelligence and tips that provided a hint at what might be found at that location".

After surrounding the house and engaging in a brief exchange of fire with the Australian's captors, Iraqi troops entered and discovered Wood under a blanket with his hands bound.
Version 2:
The Iraqi commander who led the raid that found Australian Douglas Wood and an Iraqi hostage in a Baghdad house has described the discovery as a "happy coincidence."

His story appears at odds with accounts of Mr Wood's release by Australian officials, who said the hostage engineer was freed following a specific tip-off that he might be there.

Brigadier General Abdul Jaleel Khalif, commander of the Iraqi army's first brigade, said he had a tip-off about criminals and militants hiding out in the district, but didn't know anything specific about hostages.
Whichever version is correct (and in the fog of counter-insurgency operations they are not mutually exclusive), it's a good day for the Wood family and of course Douglas himself, who
was bound, gagged, beaten, blindfolded and fed a diet of bread and propaganda during the 47 days he was held in Iraq.
No word yet, as to whether his captors have mishandled Wood's copy of the Bible.

More from Tigerhawk.

And speaking of hostages, here are some intriguing posts from the Bad Hair Blog and Transatlantic Intelligencer about the recently released French hostages. If the plot thickens even more it will become a solid.


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