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Iraq: Decapitation Of British Hostage Shown On Internet

An Islamist website has posted a video showing the beheading of Kenneth Bigley, a British man taken hostage in Iraq. The man is seen pleading to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The video appeared two days after Bigley's family reported it had proof that he was dead.

10 October 2004 -- Moments before taking his life, Bigley's captors allowed him to plead for his life one more time in front of a video camera.

"Here I am, again, Mr. Blair and your government, very, very close to the end of my life. You don't appear to have done anything at all to help me. I am not a difficult person. I am a simple man. I just want to live a simple life with [my] family."

On the video, which lasted about four minutes, the 62-year-old civil engineer from Liverpool repeated the kidnappers demands that female prisoners be released from Abu Ghurayb prison outside Baghdad.

"These people -- their patience is wearing very, very thin and they are very serious people. Please, please give them what they require -- the freedom of the women from Abu Ghurayb prison. I beg you."

However, the U.S. military has said it has no women prisoners there. It says it is holding, in different locations, only two women prisoners, including Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha, a scientist involved in making biological weapons for the former regime of Saddam Hussein. The British say they are not holding any Iraqi prisoners.

For weeks after Bigley's kidnapping in September, the British government reportedly refused to conduct any negotiations with the kidnappers. During that time, the captors used direct video appeals from Bigley to Blair, which increased the political pressure on the British prime minister to help secure his release.

On 8 October, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that the British government had made contact with the hostage-takers, but made no concessions.

"Messages were exchanged with the hostage takers in an attempt to dissuade them from carrying out their threat to kill Mr. Bigley, but at no stage did they abandon their demands relating to the release of women prisoners, even though they were fully aware that there are no women prisoners in our custody in Iraq," Straw said.

However, on the video, following Bigley's statement, a masked man accused the British government of telling lies about attempts to negotiate and not being serious about the release of female prisoners.

Then the man pulled out a long knife and cut off Bigley's head with the help of a group of masked men who shouted, "God is great!" in Arabic.

Bigley was abducted from his Baghdad home along with two Americans, who were beheaded within days of their capture.

(compiled from wire reports)