After 2-1/2 years in captivity, British hostage Peter Moore was released by his Iraqi captors on Wednesday. The Briton was one of four people snatched from in front of the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad in May 2007, and he is the only known survivor of the group.
While kidnapping in Iraq was a major threat during the peak of the conflict, Mr. Moore and his colleagues were among the last foreigners to be abducted in Iraq. After their kidnapping, only one foreigner was kidnapped in February 2008, reports the Brookings Institution Iraq Index. Since the war began in 2003, 306 foreigners were kidnapped. Of those, 157 were released, escaped, or rescued, 57 were killed, and the fate of the remaining 89 is unknown.
Though Iraq is still plagued by high profile bombing attacks reminiscent of the bloodiest days of the conflict, the kidnapping of foreigners has dropped off sharply as the flash points become more centered around ethno-sectarian tensions, says Ivan Eland, a senior national security analyst at the Independent Institute, a nonpartisan public policy think tank headquartered in Oakland, Calif.
“The anti-foreign sentiment right now has been reduced because it’s held mainly by the recalcitrant Al Qaeda elements, and I don’t think that’s the main problem any more in Iraq. Certainly there are attacks against US forces and that sort of thing, but I think the main thing is going to be the divisions in the society,” says Mr. Eland.
The four Britons were kidnapped by a Shiite insurgent group known as the League of the Righteous. British government officials say that they did not make any concessions to secure Moore’s release, and have praised their Iraqi counterparts for working on the reconciliation efforts that resulted in Moore’s release.
The Iraqi government also expressed relief after Moore’s liberation. Iraq’s government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh told the Daily Telegraph that, “[Moore] is alive and in good health. The Iraqi government is happy that he will be joining his family for the holidays.”
Upon Moore’s release, David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary, said the former hostage was “in a remarkable frame of mind.” Moore is currently undergoing a debriefing at the British Embassy in Baghdad and will be reunited with his family shortly. “He has come through an unspeakable 2-1/2years of misery, fear and uncertainty. To put it mildly he is obviously delighted by his release,” said Mr. Miliband in the Times.
Meanwhile, back in Britain Moore’s family, which remained hopeful that Moore was still alive throughout the ordeal, is eager for him to return home. “Peter is a very resilient lad and he always has been because of his background … but I don't know how close he was to those others who have been shot,” said his father, Graeme, in the Guardian.