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Egyptian diplomat kidnapped in iraq { July 23 2004 }

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Report: Egyptian Diplomat Kidnapped in Iraq
Friday, July 23, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq Militants in Iraq took an Egyptian diplomat hostage Friday and demanded his country forsake any plans it had to send security experts here, according to a video broadcast Friday on the Al-Jazeera television station.

The station also showed a separate videotape from another militant group which abducted seven foreign truck drivers, who issued new demands for the company to compensate the families of those killed in battles with U.S. forces in Fallujah (search). The company was given 48 hours to comply.

An Egyptian diplomat in Baghdad, who declined to be identified, confirmed that Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb (search) was abducted Friday. The diplomat said Qutb was taken while leaving a mosque.

The videotape shows Qutb sitting in front of six masked kidnappers. They were clad in black hoods and robes, with white headbands. One was holding an assault rifle and another had a pistol on his hip.

The group, which called itself the "Lions of Allah Brigade (search)," said it abducted Qutb because the Egyptian government said it was prepared to deploy security experts to help the interim government in Iraq.

The video was inaudible, but the Al-Jazeera newscaster paraphrased it. No specific threat against Qutb, who was wearing a pale, open-necked shirt, was mentioned.

Qutb, who said he was being treated well, added that the Egyptian mission in Baghdad was not cooperating with the U.S.-led multinational force and was only trying to help rebuild Iraq, the newscaster said.

Egypt has offered to train Iraqi police and security personnel in Egypt, but it has declined to deploy military forces in Iraq.

Egypt has a diplomatic mission and a charge d'affairs in Baghdad. It has not yet restored relations with Iraq at the ambassadorial level.

At Al-Jazeera's head office in Qatar, a producer said the station received the tape Friday from its Baghdad bureau.

On the second videotape, the militant group calling itself "The Holders of the Black Banners (search)" also demanded the release of Iraqi detainees in Kuwaiti and U.S. prisons.

In an announcement Wednesday, the group said it would behead one captive every 72 hours beginning Saturday night if the Kuwaiti trucking company they work for did not stop doing business in Iraq and their countries did not pull their citizens out of the country.

In the new tape, a masked man stood behind the seven hostages an Egyptian, three Kenyans and three Indians and read a statement, with a black banner bearing Quranic verses and the name of the group on the wall behind him.

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