Peter Moore was captured in May 2007 by gunmen in "government uniforms" at the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad. The 36-year-old British citizen has been released after 900+ days in captivity. Iraqi officials say they were taken by surprise when Moore was handed over to Iraqi authorities last Wednesday, but it is possible Moore's release was actually an exchange deal for a Shia cleric, Qais al-Khazali (Qais Qazali), being handed over by Americans to Iraqi's in exchange for Moore. General David Petraeus says Moore was 'certainly' held in Iran for at least a portion of his captivity. See a video below. See updates below.
As reports said Moore was on his way back to Britain from Iraq, Petraeus told a press conference in Baghdad: "I am on the record as having said that our intelligence assessment is that he certainly spent part of the time, at the very least, in Iran."Al-Khazali is believed to have been responsible for Moore's capture along with
The statement puts US intelligence at odds with the British Foreign Office, which today continued to insist there was no evidence that Moore had been held in Iran.
His release also came three months after dozens of members of the Leagues of Righteousness, a Shia militia group blamed for the kidnappings, were released from prison in Iraq.Four British security guards were taken with Moore. The bodies of three of them were returned to Britain earlier in 2009. The fourth guard, Alan McMenemy, 34 from Glasgow, is still missing. His family has been told "it is very likely he has died."
But Mr Miliband denied that a deal was done with Mr Moore’s captors. He said the release was enabled by Iraq's “process of national reconciliation”.
Read the story here.
More about the release of Qais al-Khazali (Qais Qazali) by Bill Roggio, writing for The Weekly Standard Blog:
Qais Qazli wasn't just some run of the mill Shia thug; his group is backed by Iran. Qazali's men were trained by Iranian Qods Force to infiltrate and assault the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala in January 2007. Five US soldiers were killed during the kidnapping attempt. The US soldiers were executed after US and Iraqi security forces closed in on the assault team.Al-Qaeda...released and free to kill again! This from Roggio's Long War Journal:
The attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center was a complex, sophisticated operation. The assault team, led by tactical commander Azhar al Dulaimi (who was later killed by the US military), was trained in a mock-up of the center that was built in Iran. The unit had excellent intelligence and received equipment that made them appear to be US soldiers. Some of the members of the assault team are said to have spoken English. They drove SUVs that looked like ones used by US contractors.
“We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” a military officer said. “We are going to pay for this in the future.