CHILD LOST AMID THE CHAOS (A boy, 10, held for ransom and most likely murdered, is one of many victims of a current onslaught of kidnappings in the war-torn nation)

One evening in September, 10 year old Ali al-Lami was walking to a neighbor's house to fetch bread when three armed men grabbed him and pushed him into their sedan and sped away.  Two day later, a stranger called Ali's parents and said he was holding their son for ransom and put Ali on the phone.  Ali's father recalls, He was terrified and crying.  All they let him say was 'Hello, Papa. That was the last time we heard his voice.  The al-Lamis paid the equivalent of $10,000 in ransom, but they never got Ali back.  Three men arrested earlier this month told police they had killed the boy.  

Kidnapping, almost unheard of during Saddam Hussein's tyrannical reign, is flourishing amid the chaos of postwar Iraq.  Since the US-led invasion, the trend, one of the most pronounced in a crime wave that has swept the nation, is terrorizing citizens, overwhelming Iraq's rookie police force and fueling anger at the occupation.  Col. Saisal Ali al-Dosari, who heads the Baghdad police department's kidnapping squad said, If the Americans would just let us hang the criminals like we used to, this problem would go away.  Instead, the problem is getting worse by the day, and we have almost no resources to combat it.

He has estimated at least one person is kidnapped daily in Baghdad, where most of Iraq's abductions occur.  About 70 kidnapping rings operate in the capital.

(Baghdad, Iraq)