Identity of captured ‘Irish insurgent’ a mystery

THE United States has so far failed to disclose the identity of an Irish citizen it says its troops captured fighting alongside insurgents in Iraq.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been unable to verify comments by a senior US commander that an Irishman had been detained, despite making inquiries with American officials.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said that, despite the best efforts of his staff, the man’s identity remains a mystery.

Earlier this month, a senior US commander in Baghdad, Maj Gen Rick Lynch, said American forces had captured insurgents from almost 50 countries, one of whom was Irish.

He declined to give further details on the individual, however.

At the time, the department said it was aware of the reports, but had no further information.

The department only became involved in such cases if requested to do so, a spokesman indicated.

In a written parliamentary question last week, Labour TD Ruarí Quinn asked Mr Ahern if Irish consular staff had met with the individual and if all efforts had been made to ensure he was given “full access to all (his) rights and due legal process”.

Mr Ahern responded: “I am aware of a news agency report to the effect that an Irish citizen is being detained in Iraq by US forces.

“However, the department has been unable so far, despite best efforts, to establish the facts of the situation and/or to identify the individual. The department is actively continuing to make enquires.”

A department spokesman said those enquiries had been made with both the US and British authorities, but without result.

Attempts by the Irish Examiner to contact a spokesperson for the US Army yesterday proved unsuccessful.

To date, US forces have jailed approximately 12,000 suspected insurgents. Most are from Arab countries, but British, French, Danish and US citizens have also been detained.

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