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Freed egyptian says treated well by iraqi captors

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Freed Egyptian Says Treated Well by Iraqi Captors
Tue Jul 27, 2004 07:13 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three days after they seized him as he walked home from a Baghdad mosque, Egyptian diplomat Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb's captors gave him a dagger, a string of prayer beads -- and an apology.
"At the beginning they threatened to kill me," Qutb, third secretary at Egypt's embassy in Baghdad, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday a day after his release.

"But later they apologized and at the end they gave me a string of prayer beads and a dagger as presents."

Qutb said four masked gunmen in a car seized him as he walked home from Friday prayers. The next time his colleagues saw him was on a video sent to Al Jazeera television, showing him kneeling and surrounded by black-clad hooded guerrillas.

Qutb said that although his captors were violent at first, they changed their behavior after speaking to him, and overall he was treated well by the kidnappers, who were all Iraqis.

Relaxed and smiling at the Egyptian embassy, he said the kidnappers had seized him to protest against Egypt receiving Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on an official visit last week.

"I told them that Egypt supports the Iraqi people and when we help in building hospitals and schools we do it for the Iraqi people and not for individuals or for the multinational forces," Qutb said.

He said his kidnappers told him they refused many ransom offers for his release because "they didn't do it for money." While in captivity, Qutb knew nothing about mediation efforts to win his release.

"I knew after my release that the Iraqi and Egyptian governments and Muslim Clerics' Association mediated for my release," he said.

Kidnappers have seized dozens of foreigners since April to press demands for foreign troops to leave Iraq, to deter foreigners from working with U.S. forces or to extract ransoms.

"I think it was a vivid experience," Qutb said.

"I just hope it doesn't happen again."

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