An Islamic militant group says it has abducted a Japanese citizen working at a US base in Iraq. On its website the Army of Ansar al-Sunna posted a passport picture of Akihiko Saito and an ID card saying he was a security manager. Japan’s foreign minister confirmed that an employee of a foreign security firm has been kidnapped in Iraq.
Meanwhile Australian Douglas Wood is still being held by another militant group. They set a three day deadline on Saturday for Australia to pull its troops out of Iraq or Wood would be killed. He was show shaven headed and clearly distressed in a video released by the militants. Canberra has refused their demands.
The fate of these hostages is just one of the challenges facing Iraq’s new defence minister. Saadoun al-Dulaimi says security is the big priority adding that his country has “become the crossroads for international terrorism”. Al-Dulaimi is a former army officer who fled to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime. His family originates in the western al-Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni insurgency.