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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped director of CARE International in Baghdad, has been seen on a videotape aired by Al-Jazeera pleading for her life.|
In the video aired Friday by the Arabic-language TV channel, an unblindfolded Hassan is speaking to the camera, sobbing and crying.
"lease help me, please help me, these might be my last hours.... Please help me, please British people ask Mr. (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair to pull the troops from Iraq and not bring them to Baghdad.
"lease, please I beg of you, the British people, to help me. I don't want to die like (Kenneth) Bigley. I beg of you, I beg of you."
Bigley was beheaded two weeks ago by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group. It is not known who has kidnapped Hassan.
Hassan was kidnapped early Tuesday. Her captors have given no demands or explanations as to why she was snatched.
In the wake of her kidnapping, CARE International suspended its humanitarian operations in Iraq. (Full story)
On Thursday, Hassan's husband said he was having a hard time understanding why she was abducted.
"She's not involved in any politics or religion," Tahseen Ali Hassan said at a news conference. "She's serving this organization for over 12 years. It was really a shock to me."
Margaret Hassan, who holds dual British and Iraqi citizenships, is credited with helping the poorest and neediest Iraqis.
Patients at a Baghdad hospital took to the streets Wednesday in protest against her abduction and credited her with helping to rebuild the medical facility last year.
Her husband said he has not been contacted by the kidnappers, has no idea who abducted his wife, and asked for her release.
Hours after her abduction, Al-Jazeera aired a video of Hassan sitting in a room, talking and appearing both tired and anxious.
Al-Jazeera said the video was accompanied by a claim of responsibility from an unnamed, armed Iraqi group.
Hassan, who was born in Ireland, is a highly respected humanitarian official in the Middle East.
Tahseen Ali Hassan said his wife was abducted shortly after she arrived at work.
"Two cars intercepted her from front and back," he said. "They attacked her car and pulled out the driver and a companion. Then they took the car and drove away to an unknown location. This is according to what I heard from the people working in her organization."
CARE International has had no international staff in Iraq since November 2003. The organization maintained operations during the start of the Iraq war in March 2003, and sponsors health projects, including water sanitation, to Iraqi citizens.
Margaret Hassan has worked for the charity for more than a decade and has lived in Iraq for 30 years. A CARE International statement said the aid group was "unaware of the motive for the abduction."
Iraqi authorities, in conjunction with the British, are leading the investigation into the kidnapping, a U.S. State Department official said. The United States is assisting with the investigation, the official said.
Insurgents have increasingly turned to kidnapping, with some ending in beheadings. Bigley became the first British hostage killed in Iraq earlier this month; his two American colleagues were beheaded last month.
Friday, October 22, 2004 Posted: 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)