A militant group which kidnapped a man in Iraq with Fylde coast links and killed four of his colleagues has apologised for its actions.
Peter Moore, whose mother Avril Sweeney lives in Thornton, was held hostage for 946 days by Shia group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (which translates in English as League of the Righteous) and subjected to mock execution and beating before his release in December 2009.
The group’s leader, Sheik Qais al-Khazali, who was released as part of the prisoner exchange which saw Mr Moore freed from captivity, has blamed the British Government for the death of Mr Moore’s colleagues.
He told the BBC: “I think the British government is responsible for their deaths because it was not serious in the negotiations with the side that held them.
“If they were fast enough that wouldn’t have happened. The British Government concentrated only on Peter Moore.
“The bodyguards were second-class citizens. That was a surprise for us.”
He added he was sorry for the deaths, and the kidnaps and the killings should never have happened.
Mr Moore, who lives in Lincoln, was working as an IT consultant for the Finance Ministry in Baghdad when he was taken hostage in 2007.
Alec MacLachlan, from Llanelli, South Wales; Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale; Jason Creswell, originally from Glasgow; and Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, were acting as bodyguards for Mr Moore when they were all taken hostage.
The bodies of the four men were recovered by the British authorities.
Mr Moore arrived back on UK soil on New Year’s Day 2010.
Mrs Sweeney made many heartfelt appeals for her son’s safe return during his time in captivity.
Speaking to The Gazette after his release, she said: “What Peter went through is just unimaginable.
“Even if you’re not his mother, if you are a member of the public, hearing someone talk about how a group of men pretend to execute you, and then laugh, is terrible.
“When we spoke a few weeks ago Peter had not gone into that much detail, so it was shocking to hear him talk about these things.
“Yet in another way, it wasn’t, because I knew he must have been through an awful lot and he just couldn’t talk about it.”