Irishwoman abducted in Iraq
Irishwoman abducted in Iraq

The abduction of Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan in Iraq has brought a united appeal by Irish political parties for her release.

Ms Hassan, who has worked in Iraq for more than 30 years, was born in Dublin and holds Irish, British, and Iraqi citizenship.

The head of the charity CARE International was seized by gunmen on Tuesday on her way to work in western Baghdad.

She appeared in a video on Arab television today pleading for her life.

“This might be my last hour. Please help me. The British people, tell Mr Blair to take the troops out of Iraq and not bring them here to Baghdad. That’s why people like myself and Mr Bigley have been caught. Please, please, I beg of you,” a distraught Ms Hassan, said on the video broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

Her husband said earlier today he was awaiting contact from her kidnappers. Mr Tahseen Ali Hassan said he had not sought information from or spoken to any Irish officials or other foreign diplomats, who are understood to be making their own inquiries.

Speaking on RTE radio this morning, he said he could see no reason - political or religious - why his wife was abducted. “She is doing things for Iraq and has nothing to do with politics,” he said.

Mr Hassan made a plea on Arabic television yesterday, saying his wife had been helping Iraq for three decades. “In the name of humanity, Islam and brotherhood, I appeal to the kidnappers to free her because she has nothing to do with politics,” he told the Al-Arabiya station.

Today, he thanked Ireland for its support and said he appreciated the Government’s intervention, saying he believed the fact his wife was born in Ireland and has Irish parents could help secure her release.

The Dublin parliament united to back a motion calling for Mrs Hassan’s release earlier this week.

The Government and the political parties hope that drawing attention to her Irish background and commitment to Iraq will attract international media attention and persuade her kidnappers to let her go. “It is very important that it is known that she is Irish,” the Irish Prime Minister said. “That may not have been known. We have to stand up for our own.” He said the Government’s appeals for her release had received widespread international coverage, including in the Middle East.

Scores of foreigners have been kidnapped since April and at least 35 have been killed, several of them beheaded. Ms Hassan is believed to be the eighth foreign woman to be abducted. All the others have been released unharmed.

Liverpool man Kenneth Bigley, who had an Irish mother, was killed by his captors earlier this month after 22 days in captivity despite appeals by Irish politicians for his release.

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