Man pleads for his brother's life

By Rebecca SheppardA SUFFOLK man has pleaded for the life of his brother, who was taken hostage in Iraq and faced execution.Appeals from Philip Bigley, from Ipswich, were constantly played on Arab television yesterday as the deadline for his brother's beheading loomed.

By Rebecca Sheppard

A SUFFOLK man has pleaded for the life of his brother, who was taken hostage in Iraq and faced execution.

Appeals from Philip Bigley, from Ipswich, were constantly played on Arab television yesterday as the deadline for his brother's beheading loomed.

Kenneth Bigley, a 62-year-old civil engineer from Liverpool, was kidnapped in Baghdad last week, along with two Americans, by a group linked to al-Qaida.


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The family of Kenneth Bigley, a father-of-one from Liverpool, made a desperate plea for his freedom on Sunday, begging that he be allowed to return home “safe and sound”.

His younger brother, a company director who lives in the Tuddenham Road area of Ipswich, appeared on Arabic television Al-Arabiya.

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Philip Bigley, 48, is married to Sandra, a primary school teacher in Ipswich, and they have four children, three boys and a girl, all of whom are school age.

He said his brother loved the Arab world and had worked in Qatar, Oman, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

“Ken has enjoyed working in the Arab world for the last 10 years in civil engineering and has many Arabic friends and is understanding and appreciative of the Islamic culture,” added Philip Bigley.

“His love of the area is what has kept him there for so many years and is the reason he was prepared to help in Baghdad where many others would be worried for their own safety. He wanted to help the ordinary Iraqi people and is just doing his job.”

Philip Bigley said their mother, 86-year-old Lil, was “distressed and confused” over the kidnapping, which was “unbearably harsh” on her.

In a videotape that surfaced on Saturday, the kidnappers, the Tawhid and Jihad group, threatened to behead the three Westerners within two days unless Iraqi women detained in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq were released.

The deadline passed yesterday without any news of the hostages' fate.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair has restated his determination to “stand firm” in the face of violent insurgency in Iraq.

“Of course these situations are terrible because of what is happening and the desire of these people to kill anyone who is trying to help that country get better,” he said.

“But our response has not got to be to weaken. Our response has got to be to stand firm, to say - whatever the differences over the Iraq conflict - there is a clear right and wrong on these issues, and that is to be with the democrats and against the terrorists.”

The Foreign Office also issued an appeal in Arabic to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television station for help in locating the men as the deadline approached.

Foreign Office spokesman Dean McLoughlin said in Arabic: “We strongly appeal for any information that could help us in releasing Kenneth.

“We promise complete confidentiality and not to make public the identity of whoever provides such information.”

He urged people with information on the hostages to call either the British Embassy in Baghdad or Iraqi police.

Kenneth Bigley, a twice-married father of 33-year-old Craig, was kidnapped with Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong from the garden of their home in the wealthy al-Mansour district of Baghdad without a struggle.

The trio were working for Middle East-based Gulf Supplies and Commercial

Services.

Footage of them blindfolded and with their hands apparently bound, was shown on Arab television station Al-Jazeera over the weekend.

It showed the three seated on the floor with their heads bowed, while a masked man stood behind them reading from a sheet of paper.

Kenneth Bigley was said to have ignored threats and advice to leave Iraq because of the dangers facing foreign workers.

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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