It seems that the announcement of their beheadings was a sick joke. Thank God.href=www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/09/28/iraq.main/index.html
Italians freed, Frenchmen to be released
U.S. hits targets in Falluja, Sadr City
Tuesday, September 28, 2004 Posted: 6:38 PM EDT (2238 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two Italian women kidnapped in Iraq three weeks ago have been released and two French journalists are set to be freed in 48 hours, officials said Tuesday.
The women, Simona Torretta and Simona Pari, both 29, were greeted on their arrival in Rome late Tuesday by an enthusiastic crowd of family and friends.
They were working for a humanitarian group called Bridge to Baghdad when their office was raided by insurgents September 7 and they were taken hostage, police said.
Last week, an Islamist Web site that has been unreliable in the past posted a message claiming that the women had been killed.
A day later, another group claimed to have killed the women in a message posted on multiple Islamist Web sites used by Iraqi terrorists in the past.
The group -- which called itself the Al-Zawahiri Supporters Group, named after Osama bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri -- claimed the women worked for Italian intelligence and were killed because Italy refused to withdraw its 2,700 troops from Iraq.
Torretta had been in Iraq for at least a year and Pari arrived just a few months ago. Both worked on a UNICEF-linked project to help rebuild schools. (Full story)
In Baghdad, negotiator Philippe Berthe spoke with Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language television network based in Dubai, about the captive French journalists.
"We did see the hostages and met with their abductors," Berthe said. "We were able to secure a promise for the release of Christian [Chesnot] and Georges [Malbrunot] ... and we got the promise from the abductors on videotape."
Berthe said there would be no ransom.
Chesnot, a reporter for Radio France International, and Malbrunot, of Le Figaro newspaper, were reported missing August 21 after leaving for Najaf from Baghdad.
Their captors -- who called themselves the Islamic Army in Iraq -- demanded that the French government repeal a ban on the wearing of headscarves by Islamic girls in public schools.
The law, which also covers such religious items as Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses, took effect at the start of the school year.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian telecommunications company said four of its six employees taken hostage in Iraq last week were released unharmed Tuesday. Orascom Telecom Holding said two of its engineers remained in captivity.
British engineer Kenneth Bigley remained under threat of death. Bigley and two American engineers, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, were taken by masked abductors September 16 from the home they shared in Baghdad. The Americans were later beheaded.
Ahhh, Kill them anyway. The terrorists, and those who do not ACTIVELY UNSUPPORT them.