Polish Iraq Hostage Praises U.S. Rescuers
WARSAW, Poland – A rescued Polish hostage said Thursday that U.S. soldiers burst through a steel door to the house where he and others were held captive in Iraq, then assured them: "Don't worry, we are Americans."
Businessman Jerzy Kos (search) arrived home after being freed from Iraqi insurgents Tuesday in Baghdad with another Pole and three Italians.
"I am very moved to be back in Poland and to be alive," Kos said at Warsaw airport after stepping off his plane, his face pale and voice trembling. "I am so moved, I can hardly speak."
The 64-year-old construction company director described his rescue as a lighting-quick operation.
They were imprisoned in a house in Ramadi (search), west of Baghdad, until Tuesday, when they heard helicopters approaching. The door was then blown in, kicking up a dust cloud and knocking the hostages to the ground.
"When I opened my eyes, I saw American soldiers," he said. "They said, 'Don't worry, we are Americans.' They held our hands and we ran to the helicopter — I will remember that for the rest of my life."
"It was fast and unexpected. They did it perfectly," Kos said.
Kos was abducted June 1 by armed attackers along with another employee, Radoslaw Kadri (search), two female Iraqi employees and three Kurdish guards. Kadri escaped, while the two women were released shortly after being captured.
Kos' company said the abductors were believed to be part of a kidnapping network.
A day after he was taken, Kos was put in a room with the three Italians, who were seized in April, and they were then all moved together until their release, he said.
"We talked a lot and supported each other as much as we could," he said.
A fourth Italian taken with the other three April 12 was killed by his captors, and while Kos said he initially thought his captors planned to kill him, he said he later realized they "wanted to do some business."
He said he was once beaten on the head with a gun, but otherwise suffered no further physical abuse.
Nonetheless, conditions were "extreme," Kos said, describing the food he was fed as so bad it gave him diarrhea.
"I am surprised that I survived," he said.
Kadri was due to return Friday.