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GI Still Missing Two Years After Capture

October 23, 2008
Associated Press

GI Still Missing Two Years After Capture

ANN ARBOR, Michigan - A U.S. Army translator kidnapped two years ago Thursday is still unaccounted for, the only U.S. service member who remains missing in the current Iraq war.

Ahmed Kousay al-Taie was visiting his wife's family in central Baghdad Oct. 23, 2006, when a group of armed, masked men dragged him to a waiting car.

Al-Taie, a 41-year-old specialist when he was captured, is now 43 and a sergeant. The last public news of him came in February 2007, when a Shiite militant group called Ahl al-Bayt Brigades released a 10-second video of him on the Internet.

The military is committed to bringing al-Taie home, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Russell, a spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

"The universal expectation that no one will be left behind is a fundamental article of faith that underpins the motivation and confidence of every U.S. service member deploying to a foreign duty location," Russell wrote in an e-mail.

Russell declined to release any details of the search for al-Taie, citing policy.

Al-Taie's parents, who live in the Michigan college town of Ann Arbor, declined to be interviewed.

Al-Taie was born in Iraq and moved to the United States when he was a teenager. In December 2004, he joined an Army reserve program for native speakers of Arabic, Dari and other strategic languages. He was deployed to his native country as a translator in November 2005.

He had met and married an Iraqi woman before he was deployed, according to the military, and al-Taie was visiting her family's home when he was kidnapped. She now lives in Michigan.

The military is offering up to $200,000 for information leading to the return of al-Taie - who was promoted to sergeant during his disappearance - and any other missing military personnel.

The U.S. military says it is searching for 20 missing persons in Iraq, including U.S. and British civilians and other "persons of interest" designated by the State Department. Only two, al-Taie and Navy Capt. Michael Speicher, are U.S. military personnel.

Speicher's F/A-18 fighter was shot down over the Iraqi desert on the opening night of the Gulf War in January 1991. The Pentagon initially declared him killed in action, but a decade later, the Navy changed his status to missing, citing an absence of evidence that he had died.

Other American soldiers have been captured in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, but they have all since been recovered, alive or dead.

Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, was a 20-year-old private first class when his fuel convoy was attacked by insurgents in Iraq in April 2004. His remains were recovered earlier this year northwest of Baghdad.

Keith Maupin says prayer helped sustain him and his family as they rallied public attention to help find their son, who was missing for nearly four years.

"You just have to have faith that they're still alive and they're coming home," Maupin said. "And all those prayers help you hear that little voice inside you that tells you what to do."

Maupin, 58, now runs the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, which sends supplies to U.S. troops in Iraq and helps establish scholarships in honor of soldiers who have died in the war.

"For me, I just want to make sure that none of them's forgotten," Maupin said. "They paid the ultimate sacrifice and the least we can do is say their name one more time, because I certainly wouldn't want Matt to be forgotten."

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