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Continued: March 28, 2008: Agonizing wait ends for news from Iraq

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 13, 2011 - 11:02 AM


He was working for Crescent when he and the four other contractors were kidnapped during a daytime hijacking of their convoy along a desert strip near the Iraq-Kuwait border. A few dozen gunmen in Iraqi police uniforms seized the convoy, which included 43 trucks and six security vehicles.

U.S. and British officials said the gunmen had posed as police and established a phony checkpoint.

Months later, the Washington Post reported that Crescent, despite having a reputation for handling risky assignments, employed a "low budget approach to private security." It also said the company
"routinely sacrificed safety to cut cost."

Crescent, which no longer does business in Iraq, issued a statement that said: "Paul was as dedicated to his job as he was to his family and friends. He was a gentle giant of a man, courteous
and respectful, a trait which earned him the total respect and loyalty of those around him."

The security firm said it "will continue to work with all of the concerned parties in bringing to justice those who perpetrated this kidnapping and will not rest until they are in the hands of authorities."

Quinten Reuben said he and other family members will press government officials to learn more about what transpired. They also hope to find out more about what Paul and his colleagues endured.

"We don't know how he was being treated or whether they were tortured," Quinten Reuben said. "We don't know what he maybe went through, what he saw, what the others went through. Were they together or by themselves?"

Late Thursday, FBI supervisory special agent Richard KolkoI said in Washington: "The FBI, working with our partners in the Hostage Working Group in Iraq, will continue to aggressively investigate
every available lead in order to identify, apprehend and bring to justice those responsible for these horrific criminal acts." The working group was established by the U.S. Embassy in 2004 to handle
the cases of U.S. civilians missing in Iraq.

Johnson- Reuben's wife, Keri, said that an autopsy was performed
on her husband at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware but that the
results won't be released for months.

She said she plans to have another autopsy performed when the
body is flown to Minnesota in the next week. Funeral arrangements
are pending.

"I'm relieved that Paul's coming home," Keri Johnson- Reuben said. "But there's so many unanswered questions."

The New York Times contributed to this report.

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