From The Telegraph
Two British hostages held in Iraq, Alan McMenemy and Alec Maclachlan, are likely to be dead, according to Foreign Office advice to family members.
Relatives of the men were told last week that the hostage takers had claimed that the men had been shot. The bodies of two other security guards, part of a team of five kidnapped in Baghdad in 2007, were handed over last month.
No remains have been returned in the latest development and there is no proof of death. The Foreign Office said all its efforts are now focused on securing the return of Peter Moore, a computer consultant who was taken along with his security team.
The families of Mr McMenemy, from Glasgow, and Mr Maclachlan, from south Wales, were said to have reacted calmly to the news but have asked the government to press for the return of the bodies.
“We don’t want the hostage takers to take a long holiday in Tehran or where ever leaving uncertainty,” said one source close to negotiations.
The hostage takers had handed a video of Mr Moore to Iraqi authorities in March in which he said “we are all well.”
The news that four had died has shocked people involved in the crisis.
“Nothing that’s ever been said about this has ever been true, so who knows what is going to happen,” the source said. “Cynically they already knew they had dead bodies on their hands, two and probably more, when they were promising the men could come back alive.”
The official response to this outrage has been so pathetic that I fear the families, while never giving up hope, because you can’t, quietly realised that their men were dead a long time ago.
The Foreign Office has faced criticism for its low profile handling of Britain’s longest running hostage crisis in decades. Officials chose to put their trust in talks with mysterious intermediaries and struggled to secure meaningful engagement from Iraqi officials.
They were being run rings round by opportunists and Islamists. There is a rumour that a proposed Special Forces (SAS? SBS? Royal Marines? that I didn't hear specified) rescue mission was forbidden by the government; that rings true. Otherwise I cannot make up my mind whether the FO has been incompetent or indifferent.
The news that four had died has shocked people involved in the crisis. ... “Cynically they already knew they had dead bodies on their hands, two and probably more, when they were promising the men could come back alive.”
Only the terminally naïve could claim, at this late date, to be shocked by Muslims negotiating in bad faith over hostages that they had long ago murdered.
And will this cause a difference in our negotiating tactics in similar cases in the future? Or will we continue to be shocked, shocked by this behavior?