The initial demand made by the terrorists who kidnapped Douglas Wood was that Australia withdraw troops from Iraq. But that was before steely-eyed master negotiator Sheikh Taj el-Din Al Hilaly intervened:
The Australian cleric working to free Australian hostage Douglas Wood in Iraq has called for coalition forces to leave the country.
[A] spokesman says the Sheikh has demanded an end to what he calls the occupation in Iraq and for the release of all female Iraqi prisoners.
The spokesman quotes Sheikh Al Hilaly as saying the withdrawal of troops is necessary for Mr Wood’s release.
Thanks to Sheikh Al Hilaly’s mad negotiating skillz, conditions for Wood’s release have blown out from an original 1,400 Australians to the entire 177,000-strong coalition force—plus release of all female prisoners. Well done, Sheikh! You are helping!
UPDATE. Sheikh Al Hilaly today:
A leading Muslim cleric said today he hoped to receive news within “hours” of the imminent release of Australian hostage Douglas Wood.
And Sheikh Al Hilaly on May 18:
Sheikh Alhilali told SBS Arabic radio earlier today that he spoke to the kidnappers who had said Mr Wood could be freed in 24 hours.