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Three workers from Gulf Supplies and Commercial Services, a Middle East-based construction contractor are kidnapped and threatened by extremists

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By  Rhys Jones Published  September 25, 2004

Muslim extremists kidnapped and threatened to kill an Iraq-based construction worker from the UK last week. Kenneth Bigley, an engineer for Gulf Supplies and Commercial Services, a Middle East-based general services and construction contractor was snatched from Baghdad on Thursday, 14 September. The trio were seized by militants without a shot being fired during a dawn raid in the wealthy al-Mansour district of the Iraqi capital. Arab TV station, Al-Jazeera showed footage of a masked militant standing behind Bigley, 62, and two of his American colleagues, Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong who were kidnapped with him in Baghdad. The kidnappers said they would kill all three if America failed to release female Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr jails. Al Jazeera named the extremists as the Tawhid and Jihad Group of suspected al-Qa’eda supporter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged that everything possible was being done to secure Bigley’s release, after the civil engineer was shown blindfolded and with his hands bound on Al-Jazeera. Mr Blair said: “We are monitoring the situation very closely, we are doing everything we can.” He said he did not want to say more, for the sake of the hostage. The chilling video footage showed Bigley, Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong seated on the floor, blindfolded with scraps of white cloth, while a masked man stood behind them reading from a sheet of paper. The hostages took turns to speak to the camera. “My name is Kenneth John Bigley, Ken,” Bigley, wearing a loose white shirt, was heard to say. Another shot showed a man holding a rifle behind the hostages. Al-Zarqawi, known to be one of Osama bin Laden’s closest associates has been named as the link between Iraq and al Qaida and is accused of orchestrating a spate of suicide bombings and attacks in the Middle East country. The US is offering a $US 25 million reward for the capture of the militant, who is one of Osama bin Laden’s closest associates. said US Secretary of State Colin Powell. A Jordanian of Palestinian descent, he was reportedly involved in the beheading of American contractor Nick Berg in May. It was claimed the 37-year-old even carried out the fatal blow. Last month, British journalist James Brandon was captured by militants in Basra but released after the apparent intervention of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The British Foreign Office has updated its advice to travelers to Iraq on its website to draw attention to the continued threat of kidnappings, with British nationals being targeted.

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