U.S. soldier missing in Baghdad; official says he was a translator and may have been abducted

Monday, October 23rd 2006, 8:52 am
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A U.S. soldier in Baghdad was reported missing late Monday, and residents said American forces sealed the central Karadah district and were conducting door-to-door searches. Other reports claimed he was an Army translator of Iraqi descent and was abducted.

A military official in Washington said the missing service member was a translator and that the initial report was he may have been abducted. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not cleared for release.

An employee at Baghdad's al-Furat TV, which was raided by American forces earlier Monday, said the U.S. forces conducting the search told him they were looking for an abducted American officer of Iraqi descent.

The employee said U.S. soldiers and Mouwafak al-Rubaie, the government's national security adviser who went to the station during the raid, told him the missing officer had left to join family members in Baghdad's Karadah district.

The officer's wife, also an Iraqi-American, was reportedly in the capital visiting family, according to the reports passed on by the al-Furat employee. He refused to allow use of his name fearing retribution.

Haitham al-Husseini, a close aide of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, said he arrived at al-Furat station to negotiate the departure of the American troops and was told by a U.S. Army colonel that they were looking for an American soldier who was kidnapped. SCIRI, the dominant Shiite group in the Iraqi government, owns the television station.

Residents in Karadah told The Associated Press that U.S. forces sealed the central Baghdad district shortly after 7:30 p.m. The military was going door-to-door and had brought in at least two tanks and two armored vehicles.

``Coalition and Iraqi Security forces immediately responded to attempt to locate the soldier. The search is ongoing,'' the military said in a statement that gave no other details.

The last time any U.S. soldiers were reported missing was in June, when one was killed in an insurgent attack at a checkpoint by a Euphrates River canal, 12 miles south of Baghdad. The two soldiers listed as missing had been abducted during the attack and later found dead, their bodies brutalized, the military said. One of the soldiers had been beheaded.

Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers, and said the successor to terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had ``slaughtered'' them, according to a Web statement that could not be authenticated.

In another case, Sgt. Keith M. Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio, is still missing in action. He disappeared in April 2004 in an insurgent attack on a fuel convoy west of Baghdad. One private contractor also remains missing.

Separately, Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, an Arabic translator, faces two desertion charges after Navy investigators concluded he fled Camp Fallujah in Iraq in June 2004 and then failed to arrive at his base in Camp Lejeune, N.C., in January 2005. Hassoun is still missing.