U.S. Hostage Found Alive In Iraq

AP Image Ingested via Automated Feed
AP
The U.S. military, acting on a tip, raided a farmhouse Wednesday and rescued an American held hostage for 10 months.

Roy Hallums, 57, was "in good condition and is receiving medical care," a military statement said after U.S. forces freed him from an isolated farmhouse 15 miles south of Baghdad. The statement said the military had received a tip from an Iraqi prisoner.

CBS News reports the tip came from one of Hallums' guards who was picked up within the past few days. During questioning, the guard said he had seen Hallums alive as recently as Friday and directed the U.S. military to the farmhouse.

"That's the best phone call I've ever gotten," Susan Hallums told CNN from Los Angeles after speaking to her ex-husband. "It was just very, very early this morning and he called and said that he was free, and I said that's just our prayers were answered."

The reason Hallums was still alive after so many months, CBS News reports is that his captors were trying to negotiate a ransom with his Saudi employer. Pentagon officials say the kidnapping and the attempt to extort a ransom has all the earmarks of an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi attack.

Hallums, formerly of Newport Beach, Calif., was kidnapped at gunpoint from his office in the Mansour district of Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2004. He was freed along with an Iraqi civilian who was not identified.

"I want to thank all of those who were involved in my rescue, to those who continuously tracked my captors and location, and to those who physically brought me freedom today," Hallums said in the military statement.

"To all of you, I will be forever grateful. Both of us are in good health and look forward to returning to our respective families. Thank you to all who kept me and my family in their thoughts and prayers."

A family Web site was topped with a headline: "Roy IS FREE!!!!!! 9/7/05."

Susan Hallums said she and her husband of 30 years divorced a couple of years ago but remain good friends. They have two daughters.

Roy Hallums was working for the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Co., supplying food to the Iraqi army, when he was abducted along with two other foreigners after a gunbattle in Baghdad. An Iraqi guard and one attacker were killed. A Filipino, a Nepalese and three Iraqis also were seized but later freed.

Hallums' family sent fliers to Iraq that, in English and Arabic, offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to his safe release.

In a January video issued by his kidnappers, Hallums had a shaggy beard and a gun pointed at his head. In the video, Hallums asked Arab leaders, singling out Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, to save his life. Gadhafi responded by calling on insurgents to release the American.

Terrorism experts say there are between 40 and 50 different kidnapping groups operating in Iraq, CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reported in January. And, according to a British security firm, more than 250 foreigners have been abducted there since last April.