By Donna Miles
Nov. 9, 2006 – Officials in Iraq are offering up to $50,000 for information leading to Spc. Ahmed Kousay Altaie, a 41-year-old U.S. Army Reserve soldier kidnapped Oct. 23 outside Baghdad's International Zone. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, got permission today to offer the reward, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, MNFI spokesman, told military analysts today. Caldwell said he expected the command to announce the reward publicly within the next 24 hours.
In the meantime, a massive search for Altaie continues, with Casey contributing coalition forces from outside Baghdad to the coalition and Iraqi security force members within the city already involved.
These troops have conducted 51 search operations, based on 328 tips that have poured in since Altaie's abduction, Caldwell said. Those raids netted 35 suspects, most still being detained because they are providing valuable information, he said.
"We have fairly good information that tells us where we think he could still be held and who perhaps may have him," he said.
One coalition soldier and two Iraqi security members have been killed in the search and six coalition troops have been wounded, he said.
Caldwell insisted that the search won't let up until Altaie is found. "We are not going to stop looking until we find him. We're just not," he said. "And we're going to continue the intensive efforts we have. It's an ongoing, very focused effort."
Altaie is an Iraqi-American who moved to the United States as a teenager and joined the Army Reserve in December 2004. He was mobilized in August 2005 and deployed to Iraq three months later, Caldwell said. He was last seen inside Baghdad's International Zone at about 2:30 p.m. Oct. 23. Sometime after that, he left the heavily fortified zone to visit family members, including his Iraqi wife, whom he married in February 2005, Caldwell said.
While Altaie was at a relative's home, three cars pulled up to the residence, and the hostage takers handcuffed the soldier and forced him into one of the vehicles, Caldwell said. A relative who claimed to be at the home when the incident occurred reported receiving a call from one of the kidnappers using the cell phone Altaie had with him when he was taken, Caldwell said.