Terrorists wanted Bush win

Iraqi militants felt cause to be aided, hostage says

December 25, 2004|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE NEWS

NEW YORK - Iraqi terrorists were rooting for President Bush to win re-election, a French journalist who was held hostage for four months said yesterday.

George Malbrunot of the daily Le Figaro, one of two newly freed French journalists, wrote in yesterday's editions that one of his captors from the group Islamic Army in Iraq said a Bush win would boost their cause.

"We want Bush because with him the American troops will stay in Iraq and that way we will be able to develop," Malbrunot cited the captor as saying.

The brutal network is thriving.

Malbrunot wrote that the Islamic Army has 15,000 to 17,000 members and its hostage operations are carefully organized.

"There are those who stop people on the roads, those that carry out interrogations, those that keep guard and those that judge," he wrote.

The other freed hostage, Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale, said the Iraqi kidnappers had changed the hostages' location five times, hauling them around in a cardboard box stuffed in the back of a car.

Chesnot said he believed the main reason he and Malbrunot were released was France's opposition to the U.S.-led war

. "We were French, and our papers were in order," he said.

"From the start, we said France didn't take part in the war, did not have any troops or companies in Iraq."

French authorities won the release using back-channel communication with intermediaries for the captors, Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau said.

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