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Chilling last hours of hostage Bigley

A video tape on the Internet on Sunday showed hostage Kenneth Bigley making a final appeal to the British government to meet his captors' demands before he was beheaded.

'Here I am again Mr (Tony) Blair and your government, very, very close to the end of my life. You don't appear to have done anything to help me. I'm not a difficult person. I am a simple man who just wants to live a simple life with his family,' he said before masked men beheaded him.

'These people, their patience is wearing very, very thin and they are very serious people. Please, please give them what they require, the freedom of the women in Abu Ghraib prison. If you do this the problem is solved,' said Bigley, who was sitting on the floor with militants standing behind him.

'To the British people, more than ever I need your help, more than ever I need your voices, to go out into the streets and demand a better life for the females and women who are in prison in Abu Ghraib,' he said, wearing an orange jump suit like those worn by detainees in US prisons. 'I can't say a great deal more. I've said so many things to you at so many different times. All I can tell you now is that I have very short time left,' Bigley said. (Reuters)

Fallujah, Oct. 10: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the fanatical leader of the terror gang that kidnapped Kenneth Bigley, is believed to have handed down a summary execution order and then watched as the Briton was beheaded.

Zarqawi is believed to have been enraged after Bigley made a bid to escape after three weeks in captivity.

The order to kill him apparently came just hours after he was recaptured and returned to the hostage-takers.

Last night Ibrahim Janabi, chief of staff to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, said a military operation aimed at flushing out Zarqawi and his gang from Latifiya, where Bigley was held, was imminent. The SAS is believed to be operating alongside crack US Delta Force troops.

'The security forces are moving into position. There is a scheduled attack on Latifiya imminent. We want to eradicate Zarqawi,' he said.

A man who identified himself as Abu Amir and said he was a spokesperson for the terror group, told an Iraqi reporter for The Sunday Telegraph that Zarqawi watched as gang members decapitated the 62-year-old civil engineer.

'Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi decided yesterday that it was necessary,' he said. 'As soon as he gave the order we carried it out immediately. He stayed in the room to watch in person as we killed Kenneth. He praised us.'

The British foreign office refused to discuss Bigley's escape bid, but it is believed his brief taste of freedom ended when he was caught on the outskirts of Latifiya, the town where he was being held near Baghdad. His body has not been found, but the search was continuing.

It is unclear how he escaped, but it is believed that an accomplice in the gang helped him, hoping for a financial reward.

Witnesses in Latifiya told Iraqi police officers that they saw Bigley running along ditches and using high walls for cover before being picked up by a car ' presumably his kidnappers. Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said he doubted that the intermediary who approached British officials in Baghdad on Monday claiming to be from the hostage-takers could help track down the killers.

Last night Bigley's wife, Sombat, spoke in public for the first time since her husband was killed.'No words can express the agony I feel for the loss of my husband Ken,' she said. 'He was a good man and a loving, caring husband. He went to Iraq to help the Iraqi people. I would like to say my deepest thanks to those who have prayed for Ken and our family.'

A two-minute silence in Bigley's memory was held yesterday in Liverpool, where he was born. It was observed in churches, cathedrals and shops across the city. At the town hall, the municipal bell tolled 62 times ' once for each year of his life.

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