So what was it that saved Douglas Wood? Alexander Downer called it “a
crucial intelligence tip off,” while the Iraqi commander who freed the
hostage described it as a “happy coincidence.” Sheik Taj Elhilaly
says his contacts set up the events leading to Wood’s freedom. Evidence
on the ground points to a different set of circumstances to that
outlined by the foreign minister over the past 36 hours.
News Ltd picked up a Reuters report by Omar Anwar on Iraqi Brigadier General Abdul Jaleel Khalif recounting the operation and The SMH assesses the various versions of events here. The Houston Chronicle produced this eyewitness account of Captain Randy Green, who accompanied the Iraqi troops in the raid.
But while confusion reigns and an accurate account of what really
happened seems a while away, could it be that Downer gave away too much
when he spoke of action based on intelligence tips? Like maybe the
Sheik fingering the insurgents?
It would be interesting to know if Elhilaly gave up the information
directly, or if they got it from monitoring him. The way he high-tailed
it from Iraq a few days before the raid indicates he may well have been
in on it.
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Meanwhile, consuming the domestic media coverage, it would be easy to
overlook that two hostages had been freed in Wednesday’s operation. The other hostage, Rasool al-Tai’ee, was a contractor for the Iraqi forces who was seized separately from Wood last month.