Skip to comments.Filipino workers barred from going to Iraq
Posted on 07/08/2004 2:28:53 AM PDT by kattracks
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) The Philippines barred its workers from traveling to Iraq on Thursday after an Arab television station aired a video in which militants threatened to kill a Filipino hostage if his country does not withdraw from the Mideast nation.
The video, broadcast Wednesday by Al-Jazeera, showed three armed and masked men standing behind the seated hostage, threatening to kill him if the Philippines doesn't pull out within three days. It did not give any details of his capture, but the group claimed to have killed an Iraqi guarding him.
On Thursday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered Philippine contract works not to travel to Iraq, but she did not refer to kidnappers' demands to withdraw Philippine troops.
"She just ordered an immediate stop to the deployment of new workers going to Iraq," Arroyo spokesman Ignacio Bunye told The Associated Press. "And then she is asking for an assessment from our Middle East team."
Fifty-one Philippines soldiers and police are part of the multinational force in Iraq. In addition, about 4,100 Filipinos are working in U.S. military bases in Iraq as cooks, mechanics or in other jobs. The president also offered government help for any workers who wanted to come home.
The Philippines special envoy to the Mideast, Roy Cimatu, said the troops' "tour of duty will end toward the end of the month. We will come up with a recommendation shortly whether we will extend their tour of duty."
In the video, a banner on the wall behind the captors identified them as a previously unknown group called the Iraqi Islamic Army-Khaled bin al-Waleed Corps.
The video did not name the hostage. The footage shows an identity card that an Al-Jazeera staffer in Qatar later told The Associated Press belonged to the slain Iraqi guard.
The card, issued by Al-Ghadeer Security Service, bore the name Hafidh Amer, identified as a security guard. The footage also showed a weapons authorization card with the same name.
Al-Jazeera's newscaster said the Filipino is an employee of a Saudi company that works for the U.S. military.
In the video, the hostage wore a bright orange garment similar to that worn by the American hostage Nick Berg when he was beheaded by Iraqi militants led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The group's namesake, Khaled bin al-Waleed, is one of the commanders of the army of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad gave bin al-Waleed the title "Sword of Islam."
Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said the channel received the videotape Wednesday.
The Philippines has been among the biggest supporters of the U.S.-led war on terrorism. In addition to sending a small peacekeeping contingent to Iraq, the Philippines has invited U.S. troops to train Filipino soldiers in counterterrorism.
If you took the Phillipino work force out of Saudi Arabia, the whole country would collapse.
At first I was annoyed at the Philippines for "pulling a Spain," but I realized that if they withdrew all of their workers, the entire Middle East would probably collapse - a thought that might get certain ME governments to be more supportive of anti-terrorism efforts.
Of course, the problem is that this is exactly what AQ and friends want, because the ensuing disruption would be their golden opportunity to get control of a number of states. They want to drive everyone out of the Middle East, knowing that the native population is too dysfunctional to make up the difference, and then take advantage of the chaos.
Furthermore, unfortunately the Philippines would collapse as well, since the income from their exported labor is what keeps that country afloat.
You beat me to saying it...
The Saudis fear having to get out and work more than they fear being run over by Al-Q.
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