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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

[Irish Aires] - Margaret Hassan Now Believed Murdered

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News about Ireland & the Irish

AJ 11/16/04 Western Aid Worker Probably Dead - V (7)
IT 11/17/04 Murder Of Margaret Hassan Is Widely Condemned -V


Margaret Hassan now believed to be murdered

Eithne O'Brien reports on today's developments, which probably mark
the death of a gentle woman

Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, remembers a
woman who made a difference to her adopted country

George Joffe, Centre for International Studies, says he was not
surprised by the news coming out about Magaret Hassan

Zaki Chehab, Political Editor of Al-Hayat TV, says the news of her
death is almost certainly true

Shannon facility may colour Iraqi views of the Irish, as Donagh
Diamond reports

Denis Halliday discusses the Irish predicament with Dr Mark Dooley,
writer & Columnist

Paschal Sheehy, Southern Editor, says the mood in Kenmare, where
one of the victim's sisters lives, is sombre
---- bin/news_service/middle_east_full_story.asp?service_id=

Western Aid Worker Probably Dead - V (7)

11/16/2004 9:30:00 PM GMT

Hasan held both Irish and British nationalities

Senior aid official Margaret Hasan held captive in Iraq has in all
likelihood been killed, going by a video received by Aljazeera.

Aljazeera, on Tuesday, however decided not to telecast the video as
it could not be sure that the woman was indeed Hasan. An Aljazeera
official said the channel would also not air it out of respect for
the feelings of its audience.

The video showed a masked man shooting with a pistol a blindfolded
woman that could be Hasan.

The family of Hasan, in a statement in London said she was most
likely murdered. The family said she "has probably gone and at last
her suffering has ended".

Her Iraqi husband Tahsin Hasan said he was aware of the video which
appeared to show the killing of his wife.

Probably genuine

The British embassy in Baghdad confirmed that a video tape had
surfaced appearing to show her being killed and that it was
probably genuine.

Tahsin Hasan in a statement broadcast by Britain's Sky News
television said, "The video may be genuine, but I do not know."

"I beg those people who took Margaret to tell me what they have
done with her. They can tell... I need her. I need her back to rest
in peace," he said.

"Margaret lived with me in Iraq for 30 years. She dedicated her
life to serving the Iraqi people. Please, now, please return her to

Dublin-born Hasan was seized on 19 October while on her way to work
at Care International, for which she was Iraq country director.

She has appeared in video tapes released by her unknown captors
calling on the British government to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

A campaign of kidnappings and killings has gripped Iraq in recent
months with more than 35 foreign captives killed.

Some armed groups have used the tactic to try to force US-led
troops and foreigners to leave Iraq.

However many abductions have been attributed to criminal gangs
taking advantage of lawlessness in the troubled country.


The husband of Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped aid worker, says he
believes she may have been killed.
Tahseen Hassan says he has heard of a video which appears to show
her murder. He appealed for more information from her captors.

Murder Of Margaret Hassan Is Widely Condemned -V

  The husband of Ms Margaret Hassan last night begged for the
return of her body to let her "rest in peace" after the release of
a video apparently showing her murder in Iraq. Frank Millar in
London and Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent, report.

As the British embassy in Baghdad reportedly confirmed that the
video showed the brutal death of the 59-year- old aid worker
abducted by an unknown group in Baghdad on October 19th, the
Foreign Secretary, Mr Jack Straw, said: "To kidnap and kill anyone
is inexcusable. But it is repugnant to commit such a crime against
a woman who has spent most of her life working for the good of the
people of Iraq."

And as her family in London and Dublin confirmed their hearts
"broken", the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, the President,
Mrs McAleese, and the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, led the tributes to the
"friend of the Arab world" who had Irish, British and Iraqi

Mrs McAleese said she was greatly saddened by the reports of Ms
Hassan's execution, while the Taoiseach said her kidnappers stood
condemned "by everyone throughout the entire international

Mr Blair sent his sympathy to her family, saying he shared their
abhorrence at her treatment after the Arabic news channel Al
Jazeera said it had a copy of the videotape for several days
showing a militant firing a pistol into the back of the head of a
blindfolded woman wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Al-Jazeera did not broadcast the video. A spokesman, Mr Jihad
Ballout, said the station was not initially sure of its

"We invited British diplomatic officials to come and view it in
Doha, Qatar, with the aim of helping us ascertain whether it was Ms
Hassan or not," he added. "It's now likely that the image depicts
Mrs Hassan."

Speaking in Baghdad, her husband, Mr Tahseen Ali Hassan, begged for
the return of his wife's body.

Still desperately clinging to some vestige of hope, he said: "I
have been told that there is a video of Margaret which appears to
show her murder. The video may be genuine, but I do not know. I beg
those people who took Margaret to tell me what they have done with
her. They can tell me. They can call the helpline. I need her.

"I need her back to rest in peace. Margaret lived with me in Iraq
for 30 years. She dedicated her life to serving the Iraqi people.
Please now, please return her to me."

Immediately after that appeal was broadcast, Ms Hassan's brother
and sisters, Michael, Deirdre, Kathryn and Geraldine Fitzsimons,
issued a statement through the Foreign Office. "Our hearts are
broken," they said. "We have kept hoping for as long as we could,
but now we have to accept that Margaret has probably gone, and at
last her suffering has ended."

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahern, last night called for
immediate clarification of what had happened to Ms Hassan.

"I am deeply shocked by the reports of Margaret Hassan's murder and
I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling
and senseless act", he said.

He said he had met Ms Hassan's sisters and brother two weeks ago,
"and I was enormously impressed by their dignity and fortitude
during this terrible ordeal. I know that the thoughts and prayers
of all the people of Ireland are with them at this tragic time."

The Labour Party's foreign affairs spokesman, Mr Michael D.
Higgins, said it now appeared she had been killed, and said this
was "an appalling action . . . No cause is served by it. How could
it? Margaret Hassan was somebody who gave her life to the most
vulnerable people of Iraq, in the worst of times, during the
sanctions, before the war, right through the most recent war and
into the present period."

She had been part of Iraq for 30 years and for over a decade had
headed one of the most important agencies providing therapeutic
feeding, clean water, medicine and hospital services for those who
needed it.

Her employer, the aid agency Care International said Ms Hassan was
an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to the poor and
disadvantaged in Iraq, particularly to children.

(c) The Irish Times

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