The fate of a Utah Marine who was apparently taken hostage in Iraq is still up in the air. But his family seems confident he's alive, even free from his captors.
Considering all the claims and counterclaims we've heard in the last few days, the watchword should be "caution" as we try to interpret the latest twists. Is Wassef Ali Hassoun alive or dead? If he is alive, is he free or not? And back at the beginning, did he willingly leave his Marine base in the first place? Frankly, we don't know.
In recent days Internet postings attributed to Islamic militant groups claimed he was beheaded. Then that claim was denied in another posting. Yesterday, the Aljazeera network reported Hassoun was released after he promised not to return to the American armed forces.
Today's twist came from Tripoli Lebanon, where Hassoun's brother Sami lives. He told reporters someone came to his door with reliable information.
Sami Hassoun: "We had a sign that he's alive and he's released. We have no idea where he is. But he's alive and he's released and we are assured of the sign."
Hassoun's relatives and friends in Utah have not spoken further, and Sami Hassoun was vague about the nature of the so-called sign.
Sami Hassoun: "We have no comments about the sign right now. That's all we can say. He's alive. We are assured of it. And he's released."
And that's where it stands now -- vague, mysterious, frustrating.