Iraq-Three-missing-Americans-released-into-US-custody. BAGHDAD, Three American contractors who went missing in Iraq’s capital last month were released Tuesday into U.S. custody, according to officials.
“They are back under U.S. control, and they will be evacuated to Landstuhl,” a U.S. military official told NBC News, referring to a U.S. military facility in Germany.
The official said the three were “fine” except for “bumps and bruises you’d expect.”
IraqiNews.com quoted a security source as saying the three were in “good health and had been handed over to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.”
The contractors, reported to be two Iraqi-Americans and one Egyptian-American, went missing on Jan. 16 in the Dora district of southern Baghdad.
At the time, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi told reporters the men were abducted from a house in the district, which is often patrolled by Shia militias.
An Iraqi security official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN the apartment was a known brothel, and that investigators were trying to determine if they had been lured there or if the kidnapping had been a crime of opportunity.
Other reports suggested the apartment was the residence of an Iraqi interpreter working for the contractors, and separate sources said the three were taken along with their interpreter after being stopped in a car.
Last month, a senior Iraqi security official who spoke on condition of anonymity told NBC News investigators suspected the men had been abducted by one of Baghdad’s many Shia militias, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Hezbollah Brigades or the smaller Saraya al-Salam, which is aligned with Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Sadr gained notoriety during the U.S. occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2011, leading his Mahdi Army militia in uprisings against U.S. troops in Najaf and the Sadr City neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad.
By Fred Lambert