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Family lauds release of Iraqi-American contractor

SAN DIEGO — Issa Salomi's first call home was to his 27-year-old son, Roger. He said memories of the birth of the oldest of his four boys and his son's childhood sustained him after he was kidnapped in Baghdad in January.

A few hours later, the Iraqi-American contractor called his wife of 30 years, Muna, and asked for her homemade tabbouleh when he arrived home.

The Pentagon said Saturday that Salomi, 60, was back under U.S. military control but gave no details on his disappearance or return. The family says he is expected to arrive at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, within a week.

A Shiite extremist group claimed responsibility for the Jan. 23 kidnapping and posted a video online that showed a man wearing military fatigues, reading a list of demands for the release of militants, the prosecution of Blackwater guards and an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal.

The group issued a statement Sunday indicating Salomi's release came in exchange for the release by the Iraqi government of four of its members. Asaib Ahl al-Haq, known in English as the League of the Righteous, said the four were freed "in response to our demands following the capture of the American officer" — a reference to Salomi. The statement's authenticity could not be verified but it was posted on a Web site commonly used by the group.

Salomi, a U.S. citizen who grew up in Iraq before fleeing the country in 1991, had worked as a linguist for the U.S. Army since 2007. While the kidnapping of foreigners in Baghdad was once a regular occurrence, Salomi's abduction is believed to be the first of an American in more than a year.

Information from the New York Times was used in the report.

Family lauds release of Iraqi-American contractor 03/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 28, 2010 10:34pm]
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