BAGHDAD – Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops.
The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz.
Speaking calmly and tripping over Arabic names in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.
“It was explained to me that this is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war,” he said at the press conference for Iraqi media.
He gave scant details of what he described as a “kidnapping,” or how he was treated while captured.
“I was taken inside Baghdad and kept in and around different locations within the city,” Hultz said. The kidnappers, he said, were from the Promised Day Brigade, a branch of the Mahdi Army, which is a militia that is controlled by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Hultz was flanked at the press conference by lawmakers Maha al-Douri and Qusay al-Suhail, the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament.
Hultz said he deployed to Iraq in 2003 as an active-duty soldier but left the military after 15 months. At that point, he said, he worked in a “civilian capacity” until his kidnapping on June 18, 2011.