BAGHDAD — Three Americans reported missing from a Baghdad neighborhood were kidnapped by militiamen from an apartment in the capital, a senior police official and a resident of the building said Monday.
A statement from the Baghdad Operations Command confirmed that “three people with American citizenship” were abducted in the capital.
A Baghdad police colonel, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the Americans are employed as contractors at Baghdad International Airport. He did not say which company employed the individuals.
Another police official in Baghdad, a major general also speaking on the condition of anonymity, gave the names of the abducted individuals as Amro Mohamed, Wael al-Mahdawi and Rusul Farad, a woman. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad did not respond to a request to verify the names. Two senior security officials said the missing Americans are of Iraqi origin.
The three Americans appear to have been seized by Shiite militiamen in the Dora neighborhood in southern Baghdad, the police colonel said. The area from which they were taken is controlled by Shiite militias, including Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, he said.
The colonel said the group had been invited to the home of their Iraqi interpreter. But a resident of the apartment building where the Americans were reportedly seized said they were taken from a second-story apartment that he described as a well-known brothel. The police major general also said the apartment was a brothel. The resident said the apartment is subject to frequent raids by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, although typically the men found inside are simply told to leave. He said that he witnessed part of the raid but that it happened late at night and was over quickly.
The Baghdad Operations Command described the apartment as “suspicious” in its statement. An intelligence officer assigned to Dora said that agents had raided the apartment in the wake of the kidnappings and found whiskey bottles but that the residence had been abandoned. The owner of the apartment is a man locals refer to as Abu Maria, the intelligence officer and other residents in the area said. Abu Maria is known for throwing illicit parties, they said.
“They went to an inappropriate place,” Iraqi lawmaker Iskander Witwit said of the Americans, referring to the alleged brothel. “Iraqi security forces are working very hard now to locate them.”