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Wife pleads for release of 3 Westerners


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Three blindfolded men address the camera in a video Al-Jazeera said shows three Westerners captured in central Baghdad.
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Kidnappers threaten to kill two Americans and one British hostage.

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The wife of Jack Hensley, one of three Westerners kidnapped from their residence in Baghdad on Thursday, made a personal plea to the kidnappers to free the trio, saying they were trying to help the Iraqi people.

"Please let them go," Patty Hensley said. "They need to come home."

The Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera broadcast video Saturday that it said showed two Americans and one Briton who were seized from their home-office in an early morning raid.

The three men in the video were shown blindfolded and seated as they addressed the camera. An armed man stood behind them.

The anchor for the network spoke over the tape's audio, saying the Jihad and Unification group threatened to behead the hostages in 48 hours unless female Iraqi prisoners are released from Um Qasr and Abu Ghraib prisons.

The U.S. military isn't holding any female prisoners at the two facilities, a military spokesman working with detention operations in Baghdad said Sunday.

The last two women held in Abu Ghraib outside of Baghdad were released in July, the spokesman said. Um Qasr, in southern Iraq, has never held women prisoners, according to the spokesman.

Regardless of the presence of female prisoners, the official said U.S. policy is not to negotiate with militants.

Al-Jazeera also aired video of another group of hostages kidnapped in Iraq who were identified as employees of a U.S.-Turkish company.

Al-Jazeera reported that the group's kidnappers threatened to kill them if their company does not withdraw from Iraq within three days.

The Turkish Embassy in Baghdad confirmed Sunday that 10 employees of a U.S.-Turkish company had been kidnapped in Iraq, but did not release any other information about the hostages or the company.

The video showed the men sitting on the ground in front of five masked, armed men, holding their identification papers.

Meanwhile, a statement Thursday from the U.S. Embassy identified the two American citizens as Jack Hensley and Eugene 'Jack' Armstrong.

The British Foreign Office identified the British hostage as Kenneth John Bigley, a civil engineer for Gulf Supplies and Commercial Services, based in the Middle East.

Hensley, whose home is in an Atlanta suburb, started his job in Iraq about six months ago, his wife said.

In an interview with CNN, Patty Hensley said she is baffled by the kidnappers' demand that female Iraqi prisoners be freed, but she said the U.S. government should consider meeting it.

"It seems like a very minor demand, that it should be done," Hensley said.

Jack Hensley assessed ways to rebuild water systems, schools, electrical grids and other facilities, she said.

"My husband and the other two gentlemen were not there for any military reasons or anything of that sort," she said. "Their objective was to restore to the Iraqi people a lifestyle they deserve."

At the start of the interview, Hensley read a prepared statement addressed to her husband's kidnappers in which she said he was a family man with a daughter "who he loves very much."

Hostages were concerned before abduction

Hensley said when she chatted with her husband over the Internet -- just 45 minutes before kidnappers entered the home he shared with the other two kidnapped men -- he told her the Iraqis hired to guard them did not show up for work that day, raising suspicions.

"There was concern for a few days before this happened that something was wrong, and before they were able to put their finger on it, the situation happened," she said.

She said she hoped the kidnappers would get to know her husband.

"If these people have gotten to know my husband at all during this time, and these other two gentlemen, they have to know that they're just kind old men," she said.

Jihad and Unification, which claims loyalty to insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has taken responsibility for beheading U.S. businessman Nicholas Berg, South Korean translator Kim Sun-il and two Bulgarian hostages.

Al-Zarqawi is a Jordanian-born Islamic militant who U.S. officials say has close ties to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He is also believed to be responsible for several recent insurgent bombings. The United States has offered a $25 million bounty on his capture.


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