Al-Jazeera television today aired a video of Margaret Hassan, the CARE International official kidnapped in Iraq, pleading for her life and urging Britain to withdraw its troops from the country lest she meet the fate of Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage executed earlier this month.
"Please help me, please help me," said Hassan, weeping. "This might be my last hour. . . . Please, please, I beg of you, the British people, to help me. . . . I don't want to die like Bigley."
Hassan was born in Dublin and holds both British and Iraqi citizenship. The highest profile kidnap victim yet in Iraq, she was abducted outside her office Tuesday morning by armed men. Hassan is the humanitarian organization's head of operations in Iraq, is married to an Iraqi and moved to the country 30 years ago.
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
It was the second video image of Hassan aired since her kidnapping. Tuesday afternoon al-Jazeera satellite television broadcast a grainy, silent video that showed Hassan perched on the corner of a sofa, appearing alarmed. The video also showed a close-up view of several of Hassan's identification cards.
Hassan declined to leave a year ago when car bomb attacks began to strike humanitarian organizations, leading nearly every other international aid group to abandon Baghdad. And when kidnapping became widespread in and around the city, she continued to rise early each morning to go to the west Baghdad office of CARE, where her abductors found her at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Since April, more than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq. About 35 are known to have been killed, and many more are believed to be held captive. Before Hassan's abduction, seven women were known to have been kidnapped, and all were eventually released.
Abductions have been carried out by a variety of groups, including criminal gangs seeking ransom, insurgents intent on demonstrating the inability of Iraq's interim government to provide security and Islamic guerrillas who have seized -- and often beheaded -- Westerners and Iraqis who work with them. In every case, security experts warn, the greatest danger is that kidnappers will exchange a captive for cash in an underground marketplace where buyers include Sunni Muslim extremists.
Hassan came to Iraq after meeting her husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, an employee of Iraqi Airways, in London.