Marine's Family Remains Hopeful, Plans a Statement

Marine's Family Remains Hopeful, Plans a Statement

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(West Jordan-AP) -- The Utah family of a Marine being held hostage in Iraq is scheduled to make another statement today.

The family hasn't made any public reaction following reports that Wassef Ali Hassoun had been beheaded.

A militant Iraqi group reportedly made that claim on a Web site, but later denied that it ever made the announcement.

The family's announcement is set for three pm.

Tonya Papanikolas reporting

Yesterday reports from the Lebanese Foreign Ministry and two extremist web sites claimed Marine Wassef Ali Hassoun had been killed. The message, posted in Arabic claimed to be from the prince of the "Ansar al-Sunna Army."

But now the group is saying it did not write the statements, and it did not kill Hassoun.

The Ansar al-Sunna Army posted a message on its web site. It reads: "In order to maintain our credibility in all issues, we declare that this statement that was attributed to us has no basis of truth."

The denial leaves Hassoun's whereabouts and fate unclear. But it is giving people hope.

Nadeem Ahmed, Islamic Society of Salt Lake: “Me, personally, I was never convinced with the type of news before, the way it came out. In my heart, I'm confidence that he's safe and shall come back safe."

Sunday afternoon the family spokesman and the main cleric at the West Valley mosque, the Imam, brought food to the marine's family. Others expressed their support and compassion by laying flowers at the house. One woman stopped to pray on the lawn.

"With the hearts and minds and the knowledge and love of God"

At St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Salt Lake, parishioners also lifted the marine in prayer.

The Very Rev. Rick Lawson, Dean of St. Mark's Cathedral: “I was trying to find out before the service began this morning if indeed he was alive or not. The reports seemed to be a bit conflicting, so we assume that he is alive - and we prayed for him as one who is alive."

Arthur Reilly, St. Mark's Parishioner: “Any time we have a loved one who's in danger or ill, we'd like to see a resolution. Certainly our thoughts go out to his family and our prayers are with him and his family."

As Christians and Muslims hope for a peaceful resolution, prayer seems to be the universal language of faith.

Nadeem Ahmed: “We still pray, we prayed before, we continued praying to have all the military and marine safely returned."

Hassoun's brother Sami in Lebanon says the family is feeling "big relief" at hearing Sunday's news.

But he said the family is still worried and appealed to the kidnappers to release his brother.

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