Leave Iraq or we hand her over to Zarqawi – the stark message from militants holding Margaret Hassan to the British government. The group which kidnapped the British aid worker has sent a tape to Al Jazeera television threatening to turn her over within 48 hours if London fails to pull its troops out of Iraq. Zarqawi’s organisation has beheaded numerous hostages, including Briton Ken Bigley.
There were emotional scenes when Hassan’s Irish relatives visited Ireland’s prime minister to discuss the situation. Bertie Ahern made a direct appeal to her kidnappers, saying she had no political associations and represented only the poor and vulnerable. Hassan, who works for Care International, is married to an Iraqi and has lived in the country for 30 years. She was kidnapped by unidentified militants on October 19.