Video: Hostage Margaret Hassan Begs for Release

Tearful Hassan begs for release of all female prisoners in Iraq in new video (Guardian)

Margaret Hassan, the British aid worker being held hostage in Iraq, was seen pleading for the release of all female prisoners in Iraq, in a new video released through al-Jazeera last night. The screening came within hours of the first deployment of troops from the Black Watch regiment as they left their base in Basra to head towards their controversial posting south of Baghdad. In the latest video, Mrs Hassan, the British director of Care International in Iraq, sits in a dimly lit room as she can be heard pleading for Britain to withdraw troops in an alarming, repeated refrain. The 59-year-old former English teacher also begs the aid organisation Care to close its offices in Iraq, and for the release of female Iraqi detainees. “Please don’t bring the soldiers to Baghdad … please, on top of that, please release the women prisoners from prisons,” she said. The plea is similar to that made by Ken Bigley shortly before his murder earlier this month after his kid napping. Looking weary, Mrs Hassan spoke directly into the camera through tears.

Care International had already suspended its work in the country after Mrs Hassan’s seizure. Yesterday saw Action Against Hunger, a Paris-based humanitarian organisation, also suspend operations in Iraq because of the deteriorating security situation. The Foreign Office last night said: “We will consider very carefully what response to make, if any, to this latest video.”

Mrs Hassan, who also holds Iraqi and Irish citizenship, was kidnapped on her way to work in Baghdad a week ago. Although born in Dublin, she is married to an Iraqi and has lived in the country for more than 30 years. She holds both British and Iraqi nationality.

Hostage Calls on Britain to Quit Iraq – Jazeera (Reuters)

Iraqi-British hostage Margaret Hassan again urged Britain to withdraw its troops from Iraq and also to free Iraqi women prisoners, Al Jazeera television reported on Wednesday. The Arab channel aired a video showing Hassan, an aid worker who was seized by unknown kidnappers in Baghdad a week ago, standing in a dimly lit room. “Please release the women prisoners from the prison in Iraq,” said a tired looking Hassan, director of the Care International charity in Iraq, in her second such appeal and third video appearance. Her other comments were barely audible. But Al Jazeera said Hassan appealed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq and not deploy them in Baghdad.

The television said Hassan also asked Care International employees to end their operations in Iraq. The charity suspended its work in the country after Hassan was kidnapped. In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said: “We will consider very carefully what response, if any, to make to this latest video.”

Earlier this month, militants from al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group beheaded British national Kenneth Bigley after releasing similarly desperate videos in which he pleaded for Blair to meet the demands of his captors. Unlike Bigley’s case, Hassan’s captors have not identified themselves, made any direct demands, or appeared in the three videos taken of Hassan after her capture. In all three videos, Hassan appeared wearing civilian clothes and not an orange jumpsuit — which militants of Al Qaeda Organization of Holy War in Iraq had forced several hostages to wear before decapitating them.

Hostage issues new plea (UPI)

British hostage Margaret Hassan, in a new tape aired Wednesday, again pleaded for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw his troops from Iraq. In the video aired over the al-Jazeera TV, she also asked for the release of all female Iraqi prisoners and for CARE International to close its offices, Sky News reported. The tape came as British troops moved north toward Baghdad to take part in a U.S.-requested operation. Hassan, who heads the CARE International charity in Iraq, was kidnapped a week ago while driving to work in Baghdad. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Kidnapped CARE woman shows up in another video (Japan Today)

A kidnapped British aid worker made another plea for her life in a video aired Wednesday, urging Britain to withdraw troops from the country as some 800 British soldiers headed north toward Baghdad to bolster U.S. forces. The tape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television showed a distraught Margaret Hassan, the 59-year-old head of CARE International in Iraq, blinking back tears as she spoke.

This process of having the hostages beg on television adds to the depravity of the terrorists. At some point, one would think the hostages would just tell them to go to hell, since it’s merely demeaning without contributing to their release. In this case, the British troops are now headed to Baghdad, probably with more resolve than ever.

UPDATE (11/16): Sadly, Mrs. Hassan has been murdered by these savages: Video: Margaret Hassan Murdered

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Teri says:

    I hate to be a meanie, but I have my doubts about this whole situation. Remember the two Italian ladies who were kidnapped and let go? As I understand it, they “volunteered” to be kidnapped and then when they were “released” went back to Italy and lobbied for the kidnappers’ cause.

    This woman has been in Iraq so long, it just makes me wonder if this is all for real. I know it looks awful, but once burned, twice shy, and it’s hard to believe that someone who spent thirty years doing charity work in a country would be given to such histrionics. She’s lived there through two wars and all of Saddam’s insanity, and she acts as though it never occurred to her that something could go wrong.

    I am a big meanie. Sorry.

  2. Meezer says:

    I’m a meanie, too, Teri. I have the very same questions. And I’d like to see a woman making with the “watch how a free woman dies, you yellow curs!” instead of the “we’re all so sorry” rif.

  3. Attila Girl says:

    Yeah, I’m with Mark Steyn–ruin their videotapes. Refuse to say anything they want you to. Take off the hood. Don’t play along with the nice butchers.

  4. Suzi says:

    The whole thing, I think is sick.

  5. Penni says:

    The fact that Margaret Hassan continued to serve and work for so many years knowing the dangers only confirms the strength of her character and the goodness of her heart. How bloody easy it is for you “meanies” to sit in the comfort and safety of your homes and decide how hostages should behave and what they should say. I wonder how tough you’d be if you or someone you loved were in such a situation! And how would you feel if you saw people posting comments like these you’ve just made?

    Shame on all of you!

  6. Christine says:

    I must say that I agree with Penni. You can think what you want, but until you are in that situation how would you know what you would do. Yea I think I would like to say “Go to Hell”, but if there was a chance that pleading would work I would do it.

  7. Jen says:

    Wow, I hope you really sit down and think about what you just said. Because now it appears that she’s been killed. I’m pretty disgusted with what a few of you have suggested. You must have seen the videos. She was pleading for her life. She was terrified. Think about it. Think about how how she must have felt.

  8. Scott says:


    I would have said this before Margaret had been killed but is even more true now. The people who wrote those naive comments above are just one example of people who dont think before they come up with an opinion. You saw the video, how do you know what is going on behind the scenes. Im sure Margaret wasnt given the cosy decision of talking or not. She probably had the choice of being tortured and then killed if she didnt make the statement she made. You people insult Margaret with your brave words, maybe you could have offered to take her place so your brave words could have been heard instead? Or why dont you go over to Iraq and tell the murderers what you think of them. Cowards. She was a brave woman who had to endure god knows what off camera and didnt deserve it, neither did any of them. Im sure she would have been most grateful to hear your kind words of support.