Ohio G.I. in hands of vengeful gunmen
By Associated Press
Saturday, April 17, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Videotape broadcast yesterday showed a tense and frightened U.S. soldier held captive by masked gunmen who said they want to trade him for comrades imprisoned by the U.S.-led occupation. The kidnappers also suggested they were holding other hostages.
Pfc. Keith Maupin, 20, was the first U.S. serviceman and second American confirmed kidnapped in a recent wave of abductions in Iraq. Wearing a floppy desert hat, he sat on the floor and appeared unharmed in the footage aired on Arab TV station Al-Jazeera.
``My name is Keith Matthew Maupin. I am a soldier from the 1st Division,'' he said, looking into the camera. ``I am married with a 10-month-old son. I came to liberate Iraq, but I did not come willingly because I wanted to stay with my child.''
During the video, one of the gunmen was heard saying: ``We are keeping him to be exchanged for some of the prisoners captured by the occupation forces.
``Some of our groups managed to capture one of the American soldiers, and he is one of many others. He is being treated according to the treatment of prisoners in the Islamic religion and he is in good health,'' the gunman said.
About two dozen foreigners have been abducted in the past week amid the worst violence Iraq has seen since the U.S.-led invasion March 20, 2003.
Maupin, of Batavia, Ohio, and Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, 40, of Greensboro, N.C., were listed as missing after their convoy was attacked April 9 outside Baghdad amid a wave of kidnappings blamed on anti-U.S. insurgents.
Seven private U.S. contractors also disappeared after the convoy attack, including Thomas Hamill, a 43-year-old truck driver from Mississippi, the only other American known to have been captured. American experts were working to determine whether four bodies discovered west of Baghdad were the remains of some of the missing.
Most of the recent kidnappings appear to have been carried out by Sunni militant groups, though a few foreigners have been taken by Shiites in the south. U.S. officials are struggling to determine whether there is a central hand behind the various hostage-takers.
In the latest bloodshed, U.S. troops skirmished with Shiite militiamen near the southern city of Kufa; five Iraqis died. In the north, mortars fired by insurgents killed eight Iraqi civilians in Mosul.
Maupin and the other missing soldier are assigned to the Army Reserve's 724th Transportation Company, based at Bartonville, Ill.