Hostage Peter Moore 'certainly' held in Iran, insists U.S. general, as freed Briton enjoys first taste of being home 

The U.S. is convinced British hostage Peter Moore was held in Iran for at least some of his time in captivity, one of its most senior military commanders said yesterday. 

As Mr Moore arrived back in Britain for an emotional reunion with his family, General David Petraeus made clear he disagreed with UK ministers.

The head of U.S. central command confirmed it was the view of U.S. intelligence that Mr Moore and his four bodyguards were spirited across the border into Iran.

'I am on the record as having said that our intelligence assessment is that he certainly spent at least part of the time in Iran, part of the time that he was a hostage,' he said.

Back home: Peter Moore arrives at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire following his two-and-a-half-year kidnap ordeal in Iraq

But he did concede it was hard to ascertain exactly what role was played by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or the Al-Quds - their foreign arm.

'It is difficult to say what role the Revolutionary Guards Corps and in particular the Quds force element played in that,' he said during a visit to Baghdad.

The General spoke out after claims the Revolutionary Guard were behind the abduction and took the five Britons into Iran with a day of their abduction in May 2007.

A leaked report from the firm that employed the bodyguards also blamed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Mr Moore was held in captivity for 946 days after being abducted with four other men in Baghdad in May 2007.

He and his family are now expected to spend up to ten days at a secret location, where Mr Moore will be assessed by doctors and psychiatrists as he tries to readjust to life as a free man.

Peter Moore

Mr Moore, left, with a companion from the flight

The 36-year-old IT consultant, who was released on Wednesday, was met at RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, by his step-parents Pauline and Fran Sweeney.

He had spent a quiet New Year’s Eve at the Baghdad embassy before flying back to the UK via Jordan.

Mr Moore declined to make any comment, but in a statement the Sweeneys said: ‘We are thrilled to have Peter back safely.

‘We have a lot of catching up to do and would like to have time with Peter on our own. We would now ask the media to give us space and privacy.’

Mr Moore touched down in a Challenger executive jet at Bay 15 of the RAF base.

Peter Moore at the British Embassy in Baghdad

Free at last: Peter Moore at the British Embassy in Baghdad on Thursday

He had stopped off in Amman, Jordan, before making the six-hour journey home on board the civilian plane.

Flight lieutenant Mark Concarr boarded the plane to carry out routine checks before Mr Moore was welcomed back by Foreign Office official Lesley Beaton.

Within minutes of touching down, Mr Moore stepped off the plane into the wintry British air wearing a blue fleece top, cream trousers and a cap.

He shook hands with a flight engineer as he left peering out from underneath his cap.

He then boarded a people carrier flanked by officials to be reunited with his family at an undisclosed location.

Mr Moore was unexpectedly released hours after the U.S. transferred to Iraqi custody a Shia cleric who led the organisation responsible for the kidnapping.

The timing of Qais al-Khaali’s handover led to suggestions Mr Moore’s freedom had been secured as part of a deal to swap prisoners – a claim denied by the Foreign Office.

Al-Khazali heads the Asaib al-Haq, also known as the League of Righteousness, who were jointly responsible for snatching the five men from the Iraqi finance ministry.

The other four were all bodyguards working for a Canadian security firm. Three of them were murdered and their bodies subsequently handed over.

The Foreign Office believes the fourth, Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, is also dead and Iraqi officials have suggested his remains will be handed over within days – once al-Khazali is freed by the authorities.

Mr McMenemy’s father, Dennis, yesterday accused the Foreign Office of ‘deceit, lies and cover-up’ over the kidnappers’ alleged links to Iran and said he had not been kept informed of efforts to secure his son’s remains.


Murdered: Jason Swindlehurst (L) and Jason Creswell (R) were both killed and their bodies handed over to the authorities in Baghdad last June

Kidnapped security guards Alan McMenemy and, right, Alec Maclachlan

Alan McMenemy (L) is still missing but the Foreign Office believes he too is dead. The body of Alec MacLachlan (R) was handed over last September

Mr Moore was reunited with the Sweeneys last night, rather than his natural parents, because he had named them as his next-of-kin.

Since his release, Mr Moore’s natural parents have both criticised the Government for failing to liaise with them over the hostage’s ordeal.

Yesterday, Graeme Moore, 60, from Leicestershire, claimed a source in Iraq had contacted him a month ago to say the U.S. and the kidnappers had discussed the transfer of al-Khazali and the subsequent release of Mr Moore.

The Foreign Office said no ‘substantive concessions’ were made to the hostage-takers.

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