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Cablegate: Kidnapped in Iraq: One Trucker's Tale

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 005518

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL MOPS TU IZ
SUBJECT: KIDNAPPED IN IRAQ: ONE TRUCKER'S TALE

(U) Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: MFA's Middle East Department called in
PolMilOff Sept. 10 to recount the ordeal of a Turkish trucker
who had been taken hostage and released in Iraq. We do not
vouch for the accuracy of his story, but hope it may be of
use to analysts and others. End summary.

2. (SBU) On Sept. 10, MFA Head of Department for the Middle
East Hasan Sekizkok called in PolMilOff "to discuss Iraq."
Sekizkok reported that a Turkish truck driver, Mithat Civi,
had been abducted in Iraq in August and then released on
Sept. 7. Civi told his story to the Turkish embassy in
Baghdad. The Turkish embassy then sought to have Civi repeat
his story to the U.S. Embassy there in order to assist with
USG counterterrorism efforts, but--according to Sekizkok--
the U.S. Embassy declined the offer. Sekizkok requested us
to tell this trucker's story in case it would help the
coalition and the IIG to prevent such incidents in the future.

3. (SBU) CAVEAT: We present this version of events as they
were told to us. Embassy does not/cannot vouch for the
trucker's story nor do we call for action on anyone's part.
We are passing on one trucker's story in the hope that it may
be helpful to addressees. END CAVEAT.

4. (SBU) Mithat Civi is a Turkish truck driver who was
working for a Kuwaiti company, Al-Saker. On Aug. 15, he left
Kuwait for Iraq in a convoy of 30 trucks; he was carrying
fresh fruits and vegetables for the coalition. First the
convoy traveled to Baghdad, then to the U.S. base near
Fallujah. Still loaded, he was then instructed to drive with
about 10 other trucks for Ramadi, where he stayed for two
days.

5. (SBU) On the third day (o/a Aug. 23), U.S. soldiers at
Ramadi (NFI) ordered him to take his load--alone--to Esat,
near the Syrian border. Civi said that he argued with the
soldiers, saying his load was meant for the troops in Ramadi.
According to Civi, the U.S. soldiers insulted him, pointed
their weapons at him, and forced his to drive to the U.S.
base near Esat. He arrived safely in East, but--he
claims--U.S. soldiers there sent him back to Ramadi.

6. (SBU) At Ramadi, the U.S. soldiers told him to proceed to
a former Saddam palace that coalition forces were using about
four to five kilometers from the main Ramadi base. Civi said
that he requested an escort, but the soldiers refused and
again pointed their weapons at him to make him move on. At
the former Saddam palace, he said that U.S. soldiers stopped
him, suspecting a VBIED attack. They reportedly asked him
why he was traveling alone, then thoroughly searched his
vehicle with the help of sniffer dogs. They found no
weapons, but discovered (unsurprisingly) that his cargo had
rotted and was unusable. Civi claimed that the soldiers then
forced him--again by pointing weapons at him--to return to
the main camp at Ramadi.

7. (SBU) Civi then said that on the way back to the main camp
he lost his way and, when he stopped to ask for directions,
two sedans stopped him and armed men grabbed him, put him in
one of their vehicles, and drove away. He was not
blindfolded or hooded, and for some time was able to see his
truck moving along with his vehicle, presumably driven by
another insurgent. The truck later drove off another
direction. The kidnappers told him that "30 people" had been
watching him and following his movements since he arrived in
Ramadi.

8. (SBU) Civi and the insurgents arrived at a house outside
Ramadi. They roughed him up a bit, but the group's
leader--identified to us by Sekizkok as "Abu Hatt
Tab"--ordered the rough treatment to cease, and from then on
Civi reported that he was treated well. The kidnappers asked
Civi what his religion and "sect" were. After about 24
hours, he was transferred to another armed group, who still
treated him well. His captors told him that he had been
kidnapped for political reasons, not for ransom.

9. (SBU) A few days later, the insurgents told him that they
had seen on television that Civi's Kuwaiti company, Al-Saker,
had announced that it would cease its activities in Iraq.
Civi said his captors were overjoyed and fired their weapons
into the air in celebration. A "delegation" (Sekizkok's
word) of other insurgents soon arrived and transported him to
a local mosque, where the group filmed his release. With the
assistance of a Turkish-speaking journalist, Civi then made
his way to Baghdad.

10. (SBU) Comment: There are some inconsistencies in Civi's
story that are worth noting. For example, if he made his way
well enough from the main camp near Ramadi to the former
Saddam palace, how did he lose his way returning from the
palace to the camp? Is it reasonable to assume that on at
least three occasions U.S. soldiers pointed their weapons at
him whenever he protested their instructions? Still--despite
the fact that he drove from Kuwait and not from Turkey--a
number of elements of Civi's story seemed to match some press
accounts we have seen of Turkish truck drivers' ordeal at the
hands of the insurgency. Perhaps it will hold value for our
counterterrorism analysts. End comment.
11. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.
EDELMAN

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