AMMAN, Jordan – The chief executive a Jordanian firm working for the U.S. military in Iraq said Tuesday he would pull out of the country to win the release of two employees kidnapped by militants and threatened with decapitation.
"I am ceasing operations and pulling out from the company's premises in Iraq for humanitarian reasons, and out of my concern for the safety and the lives of my two employees who were kidnapped in Iraq," Rami al-Ouweiss (search) told The Associated Press.
Fayez Saad al-Udwan and Mohammad Ahmed Salama al-Manaya'a — who work as drivers for the private company Daoud and Partners (search) — were kidnapped Monday by a group calling itself the Mujahedeen Corps in Iraq (search). The group warned the pair would be killed within 72 hours unless their employer withdrew from Iraq and stopped cooperating with U.S forces.
Earlier Tuesday, relatives of the hostages had threatened to behead the al-Ouweiss and kill all the company's staff if the firm did not immediately meet the kidnappers' demand to withdraw.
"We told the firm's executive director, Rami al-Ouweiss, that if he does not comply with the kidnappers' demands today, his company and the lives of his employees will not be spared," said al-Udwan's brother, Omar.
Al-Manaya'a's father, Ahmed Salama, said: "We will chop off the head of the firm's director if he doesn't heed our demands to completely cease his operation in Iraq."
Both men spoke to reporters at a gathering of male relatives of the hostages outside the Amman offices of Daoud and Partners