Saturday, February 24, 2018

Army IDs remains of last missing soldier in Iraq

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military said Sunday that it has recovered the remains of the last American service member who was unaccounted for in Iraq, an Army interpreter seized by gunmen after sneaking off base to visit his Iraqi wife in Baghdad during the height of the insurgency.

The remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed al-Taie, who was 41 when militiamen seized him on Oct. 23, 2006, were identified at the military's mortuary in Dover, Del., the Army said in a statement. Army officials said they had no further details about the circumstances surrounding his death or the discovery of his remains.

Al-Taie's brother, Hathal Al-Taie, said that the military officer who visited the family's home to inform them about the remains said they are in Dover, but that he didn't know the circumstances surrounding his brother's death.

"We have no information right now, not even how the body looks like or when they're going to release him," Hathal Al-Taie said by phone from Ann Arbor, Mich., where the family settled after leaving Iraq for the United States when his brother was still a teenager.

Their uncle, Entifadh Qanbar, said he was told by the Army major who informed the family that the remains were received at Dover on Wednesday. "I asked if it was an accident or if he was killed, and he said they didn't know," Qanbar said by phone from Beirut, Lebanon, where he lives.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad did not respond to a request for comment late Sunday.

Ahmed al-Taie met his wife during a trip to Iraq shortly after Saddam Hussein fell in 2003, while he was a civilian, and in December 2004 he joined an Army reserve program for native speakers of Arabic and other strategic languages. He was deployed to Iraq in November 2005 and was assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Baghdad until he was kidnapped.

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