- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BAGHDAD — Iraqi militants were reported last night to have killed a 20-year-old U.S. soldier they had held hostage for nearly three months.

The Arab-language Al Jazeera TV network said the reason for the slaying was the U.S. government’s failure to change its policy in Iraq.

News of the killing of Spc. Keith M. Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, came hours after the United States handed sovereignty in Iraq to an interim government. The report did not say when he was killed.

Spc. Maupin was captured during an ambush on a convoy west of Baghdad on April 9.

Al Jazeera aired a video showing a blindfolded man sitting on the ground. It said that in the next scene, gunmen shoot the man in the back of the head, in front of a hole dug in the ground. It did not show the killing.

Maj. Willie Harris, public affairs spokesman for the Army’s 88th Regional Readiness Command, said the Defense Department is analyzing the videotape.

“There is no confirmation at this time that the tape contains footage of Matt Maupin or any other Army soldier,” he said, adding that the Maupin family was briefed “as to the existence of a videotape.”

Al Jazeera said a statement was issued with the video in the name of a group calling itself the “Sharp Sword Against the Enemies of God and His Prophet.”

In the statement, the militants said they killed the soldier because the United States did not change its policies in Iraq and to avenge “martyrs” in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

Spc. Maupin was among nine Americans, seven of them contractors, who disappeared after the April 9 attack.

The bodies of four civilian employees of Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company Halliburton, were found in a shallow grave near the site of the attack. The body of Sgt. Elmer Krause, of Greensboro, N.C., was found later.

One civilian driver, Thomas Hamill of Macon, Miss., was kidnapped but escaped from his captors nearly a month later. The others are still missing.

Spc. Maupin was promoted in absentia on May 1 from private first class to the rank of specialist, said Maj. Mark Magalski, a spokesman for the 633rd Quartermaster Battalion, based in Cincinnati.

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