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Wife of hostage held in Iraq pleads for release

Report: Captors threaten to kill 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.

U.S., Iraqi accounts of Baghdad fighting are at odds.

The U.S. strategy in Falluja has come under question.
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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 her husband, saying he wanted 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.

Al-Jazeera also aired video of 10 hostages identified by the network as employees of a U.S.-Turkish company.

The Al-Jazeera newscaster reported the group threatened to kill the hostages if their company does not withdraw from Iraq within three days.

The video showed the men sitting on the ground in front of five masked, armed men, holding their identification papers. Their nationalities and identities could not be determined from the video.

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."

Armstrong's brother, Frank, spoke with CNN by phone Saturday evening from his home in Michigan. Frank Armstrong said he had been given little information about what has happened to his brother.

Armstrong also said the family has had "too much trauma over the last two days" and was not ready to make any other public comments. He said he called the sheriff's department to keep reporters away from his home because the family wanted privacy.

Hostages were suspicious

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.

The group also has set hostages free. In early August, two Turkish truck drivers were released after five days. Al-Jazeera reported that the group freed the hostages after their employer, a Turkish company, pledged not to supply American forces in Iraq.

Iraqi neighbors of the three Westerners said Hensley, Armstrong and Bigley were the men in the video, but the U.S. and British embassies have not confirmed that.

An Iraqi police official said 11 kidnappers, dressed in civilian clothing, drove up to the residence in a minibus and a sedan about 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Wednesday ET).

Six of the abductors in the minivan entered the offices and seized the Westerners, the police official said.

$25 million bounty

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.

The United States said in June that it believed al-Zarqawi has a base of operation in Falluja, an insurgent stronghold. Over the past few months, U.S. planes have conducted strikes against houses in Falluja where it said intelligence indicated his sympathizers were meeting.

In the latest strike Friday night, warplanes targeted a building in central Falluja, west of Baghdad, where they said al-Zarqawi's followers had gathered. Hospital officials in Falluja said two people were killed and 10 others wounded.


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