Alright, here's the latest on beheadings from Iraq...
Report: S. Korea Confirms Hostage Beheaded
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq — South Korea has confirmed that one of its nationals held hostage in Iraq was beheaded on Tuesday, in spite of promises of an extended deadline on his execution.
The South Korean government confirmed Al-Jazeera television's report that businessman Kim Sun-il
) had in fact been killed by his kidnappers, according to Reuters news service.
In addition, Kim's body had been found, Reuters reported South Korea as saying.
Al-Jazeera broke the news and declined to say how it got its information, but the Arab television station said it would have more information at 1 p.m. EDT.
Kim had been held hostage by suspected Al Qaeda-linked abductors, who originally said they'd kill him Tuesday but then extended that deadline during negotiations, according to Ahmed al-Ghreiri, an employee with the NKTS security firm that is acting as an intermediary.
But his captors apparently changed their mind and executed Kim anyway.
No other information about Kim's beheading was immediately available. He is the third kidnapping victim killed in that manner in the past two months.
The White House reacted with outrage to the Al-Jazeera report.
"Obviously that would be horrible news to hear," said Press Secretary Scott McClellan. There is "simply no justification for those kinds of atrocities."
On Friday, Lockheed Martin contractor Paul Johnson Jr.
), an American who'd been living in Saudi Arabia for about a decade, was beheaded by his Al Qaeda-linked captors. Last month, another American contractor named Nicholas Berg
) was also murdered by beheading. In 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by Al Qaeda abductors.
Earlier Tuesday, the Seoul
) government said it would evacuate all its citizens working for businesses in Iraq by early July.
NKTS official Kim Hyun-taek had said the captors have asked to negotiate with company president Choi Sung-gab, who will leave for Iraq as early as Wednesday afternoon.
The Muslim extremist captors had originally threatened to kill the 33-year-old Kim if the South Korean government did not cancel its planned deployment of 3,000 troops to Iraq by early Tuesday.
But the president of NKTS, which supplies the bodyguards for Jordan's royal family, said Tuesday that they'd dropped that demand, Reuters news service reported.
Reuters reported that the Web site for the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted NKTS president Choi Seung-gap as saying Kim's kidnappers had put forth new demands that Seoul was willing to meet.
Choi wasn't specific because he didn't want to rattle the negotiations process, according to Reuters.
"It is highly likely we will see a resolution because in Iraq they have a good impression about South Korea," said Choi, who made the comments to South Korean reporters on Tuesday.
The South Korean government said Tuesday it will evacuate the last of its 22 nationals in Iraq by early next month. Most work for South Korean companies that supply the U.S. military, said Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Hee-beom.
Kim, who works for a trading company in Baghdad, was believed to have been kidnapped about 10 days ago. A videotape broadcast by the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera showed him pleading for his life.
"We have checked through our business partner in Iraq five or six times and we are sure that he is still alive," Kim Hyun-taek said earlier Tuesday. "The fact that they are willing to negotiate with our president shows that the situation is optimistic."
He said the go-between was not allowed to see Kim Sun-il in person.
The kidnappers claimed to be from the Monotheism and Jihad group led by Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
), who is believed to have ties to Al Qaeda
The recent abductions and attacks appear aimed at undermining the interim Iraqi government set to take power June 30, when the U.S.-led occupation formally ends.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.