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  Gustav
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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Polish Woman Kidnapped



Teresa Borcz, a Polish woman possibly working for U.S. forces in Iraq and a former employee of the Polish embassy there, has been kidnapped. The group responsible, calling itself Abu Bakr Siddiq Al-Salafiya, has demanded the withdrawal of Polish forces in Iraq.

In a video released on Al-Jazeera,
the woman called on Polish troops to leave the country and for U.S. and Iraqi authorities to release all female detainees from the Abu Ghraib prison. The announcer said she had been "working in Iraq for a long time."

In Warsaw, a Polish Defense Ministry official said she apparently did not belong to any of the Polish military units. Polish television TVN24 reported that all Polish journalists in Iraq have been accounted for. (CNN)
Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski,
said the woman could be an employee of a private contractor working for the US-led forces in Iraq, but that she was definitely not attached to the Polish contingent. (Al-Jazeera)
According to Polish national newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, Teresa Borcz was working for Haliburton. A co-worker of hers in Iraq doesn't believe that she could have been working for Americans since "she really didn't like them very much."

Her husband is an Iraqi man who studied acting and directing at the National School of Theater in Krakow from 1993-6. She has been working and living in Iraq for over 30 years. Earlier, when asked if she felt more Polish or Iraqi, she answered that she felt more Iraqi, and has even converted to Islam.

According to Onet.pl, her mother, who before 2003 had spoken with her on the telephone on a regular basis, last saw her in 1981. She said:
"She has been living there for a long time, and well. She has been helping Polish companies there. I haven't had any contact with her since January of 2003, and now all that's left for me is to pray and wait."
In 1994, she was released from her duties after one year of working at the Polish Embassy in Iraq due to suspicion of accepting bribes and working for the Iraqi intelligence services.

The possibility exists that she was simply living in Iraq and minding her own business. She was taken from her home in the middle of the night.

Opinion:

These terrorists have greatly underestimated the Polish people. After enduring unspeakable horrors under both the Nazis and the Soviets, Poles know the meaning of sacrifice.


They are also extremely stubborn. This kidnapping will not weaken the will of the Polish people.

Poland is still a very homogeneous country, so Poles have very little contact with Muslims. Predjudice is not uncommon. At most, this kidnapping (even though this woman no longer considers herself Polish) will only make the majority of Poles hate the terrorists (and probably Muslims in general) even more.

It's already evident that the terrorists' tactics have acheived exactly the opposite effect they were hoping for. Already, Prime Minister Marek Belka, President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski and Foreign Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz have all excluded any possibility of negotiation with the terrorists.

In this blogger's experience, Poles have been vaguely angry that their country has been asked to participate in the War in Iraq, losing troops and journalists without receiving what they see as the proper respect and prestige. However, in the first few hours of this crisis, the reaction of Poles has been muted at best. One Pole I encountered has said, "well, it's sad, but we've got to clean up that mess over there."

Of course, Poles are showing sympathy and concern for the woman, and are clinging to hopes of a rescue mission. They're happy that she hasn't been captured by Zarqawi's group, and that the group's ultimatum has no deadline. Most are taking these as good signs that she may survive this ordeal.


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