BAGHDAD, Iraq – Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni (search), who has been missing in Iraq since last week, has been kidnapped by militants, according to a video broadcast Tuesday on the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television station.
The militant group, calling itself "The Islamic Army in Iraq," did not threaten Baldoni explicitly, but said in a statement it could not guarantee his safety unless Italy announces within the next 48 hours that it will withdraw its 3,000 troops from Iraq, the newsreader said.
The video showed a passport that identified the man as Baldoni and included a clip of a man purported to be the journalist.
The video showed a passport and other identification belonging to Baldoni and included a clip of a man purported to be the journalist with a black mustache and goatee, his image superimposed on a black background with the militant group's name.
According to an Arabic translation of his comments, the man identified himself as Baldoni and said he was 56 years old. He said he was a journalist, but also a volunteer for the Red Cross (search).
The newsreader, who paraphrased the militants' statement, said they criticized Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (search) for taking positions against Islam and sending his military to join coalition forces here.
The Italian Foreign Ministry reported Baldoni missing Friday and said he was believed to be in Najaf, the holy city south of Baghdad that has been the site of heavy fighting between militants and U.S. forces for nearly three weeks.
Baldoni is a freelance journalist who went to Iraq for the news magazine Diario. The magazine's editor in chief, Enrico Deaglio, told the ANSA news agency Friday that he last had contact with Baldoni on Wednesday.