Special Forces rescue?

John A Silkstone

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Special Forces ‘tried to rescue hostages near Iranian border

British Special Forces tried to rescue Peter Moore and four other British hostages near the Iranian border in May 2007 but they failed to locate the kidnappers’ convoy, it was claimed last night.

The Ministry of Defence would neither confirm nor deny the report. “It is Special Forces related so we wouldn’t comment,” a spokesman told The Times. Other officials also refused to give details of the attempted rescue operation, which they described as an extremely sensitive issue, according to The Guardian. A British official involved in attempts to free the hostages confirmed, however, that at the time there were reports that the abductors were moving the hostages towards the Iranian border, but said that these remained unconfirmed.

Mr Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln, was abducted along with his bodyguards, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell, Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy, from the Iraqi Finance Ministry in Baghdad by a large force of kidnappers dressed in police uniform.

Mr Moore was released last week. The bodies of Swindlehurst, Creswell and Maclachlan were handed over to British officials last year. They had apparently been shot several months earlier. Alan McMenemy is believed to have been killed, but his body has not been recovered.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We don’t comment on operational security matters. We have no evidence that the British hostages were held in Iran or to substantiate claims that Iran was directly involved in the kidnapping.” General David Petreaus, the head of US Central Command, said, however, that the men spent some of their incarceration inside Iran.

Mr Moore has named two locations in Iraq where he was held during his 2¾ years in captivity.

Sheikh Jassim al-Saidi, a senior member of Asaib al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous, the Shia insurgents responsible for the kidnap, denied that Mr Moore had been taken to Iran. “He was not held in Iran, and you can ask the hostage,” he said. “He knew where he was. He hadn’t been in Iran a single day.”

The Times understands that British Special Forces made a number of failed rescue attempts after the kidnap of the five men, raiding suspected hideouts in the slums of Sadr City, the Shia dominated suburb of Baghdad.

The latest report suggests that the five hostages were in fact driven to the Iranian border just a day after their abduction. They were trailed by Iraqi intelligence to a brickworks in the Iranian town of Mehran, reportedly used as a base by the Quds force for its operations in Iran. They were last seen being transferred from one vehicle to another and driven off
 

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