BAGHDAD — U.S. forces freed American contractor Roy Hallums on Wednesday in an early-morning raid on a farmhouse south of Baghdad, more than 10 months after he was abducted from a Baghdad office.
A U.S. military spokesman said soldiers raided the house hours after they learned of Hallums' whereabouts from an Iraqi detainee. An unidentified Iraqi citizen was freed, and another was detained. Hallums, who was held in Yousifiya, which is in an area known as the "triangle of death," was in "good condition" and receiving medical care, the U.S. military reported.
Hallums' liberation brought a happy conclusion to what has become a familiar story in Iraq, where more than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped since the U.S.-led invasion 2 1/2 years ago.
Insurgents have released many captives but also have conducted numerous high-profile executions, including the slayings in July of two Algerian diplomats who had been abducted from the same upscale Baghdad neighborhood where Hallums was kidnapped.
Carrie Cooper, a 29-year-old therapist who lives in Westminster, south of Los Angeles, was surprised when she heard her father's voice on the telephone at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
His first words, she said, were, "This is Dad."
"Nobody had told me he was going to be rescued, so I was caught totally off guard," she said. "Now I'm just delirious with happiness."
Over the next 12 minutes, her father sketched out the outlines of his captivity.
"He was tied up most of the time, gagged, in a hole in the ground. He was beaten severely most days," Cooper said. "He said he had a lot of stories to tell....
"He said he was sorry for what he put us through, for putting us in the position of being a hostage family.
"I told him not to worry about that," she continued. "All I want is to see him. I want to go straight to wherever he is. I'm ecstatic to be seeing my dad."
Hallums worked for Saudi Arabian Trading & Construction Co., supplying food to the Iraqi army. On Nov. 1, gunmen stormed the company's offices in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood, killing one Iraqi guard and abducting at least six people, including Hallums. Five of them were later released.
Hallums' family in Southern California began a campaign to free him shortly afterward, appearing on national television, creating a website devoted to his release and enlisting the Rev. Jesse Jackson in their effort.
The family also sent English and Arabic fliers to Iraq offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to his safe release.
In January, his captors released a video showing a haggard-looking Hallums with a rifle held to his head pleading for Arab leaders, including Libya's Moammar Kadafi, to help save his life. Kadafi later called for Hallums' release.
Wednesday, the U.S. military released a brief statement from Hallums in which he thanked his liberators and supporters. "Both of us are in good health and look forward to returning to our respective families," Hallums said, referring to his fellow prisoner.
The military said the Iraqi's name was being withheld pending notification of his family.
Levey reported from Baghdad and Luna from Westminster.