Mother of kidnapped Minnesotan: 'I want my son back'by Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
The friends and family members of a Minnesota man who was reported to be kidnapped while working Iraq, are hoping for his safe return. Paul Reuben of Minneapolis was among a group of Americans working for a private security company who were abducted on Thursday. Rueben's family say he was in the southern part of the country when the convoy he was travelling in was hijacked by what a local Iraqi police official called "a criminal gang."
Minneapolis — Paul Reuben and four others were working for Crescent Security Group, a company based in Kuwait when the attack occurred. The military says one of the men has been found dead, but a search for the others by coalition forces has been unsuccessful.
"I want them to think what it's like for a mother to want her son back," Reben's mother, Johnnie Mae Reuben, told The Associated Press. "I want my son back."
Johnnie Mae Reuben, a psychiatric nurse with Hennepin County, said her son was attracted to the work in Iraq because it paid very well, but that recently he was more concerned about what he saw as an increasingly dangerous situation in the country. He returned to the United States several times for visits, most recently in August for the 16th birthday of his twin daughters.
"He wanted to buy a house and see after his girls," Johnnie Mae Reuben said.
Before going to Iraq, Reuben was an officer with the St. Louis Park police department. He left there in 2003. Police chief John Luse says one of Reuben's family members contacted the department to tell them about the abduction. He says he was shocked by the news.
"I suppose... it's possible, but until it happens to somebody you know, you always think it will never happen to somebody you know," Luse says.
Last year, a St. Louis Park police officer working for the Army National Guard -- David Day -- was killed in Iraq. Luse says that loss was hard for department and he's holding out hope for Reuben. He says Reuben was a happy-go-lucky guy who liked to laugh, even at bad jokes. Luse says Reuben had qualities that are good for a police officer to possess.
"I think he liked people, he's very much a people person. He had the kind of personality that's easy to like. He's very likable. I'm not sure how well those characteristics served him in his job with the security contractor, but in our community in our kind of policing, those kind of characteristics are good to have," he says.
Reuben attended middle school and high school in Minneapolis. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1985. Lorrie Westergreen is an administrator and teacher at the school. She says after his graduation, Reuben and his identical twin brother Patrick came back to talk to students in one of her classes.
"They came back probably for a series of four to five years while I was running the class, it was a business mentorship class, and spoke to the students about how they determined about their careers and what colleges they went to and their successes," Westergreen says.
Westergreen says the Reuben brothers were good role models and were received well by her students. And she says they were always eager to come back to talk with the kids. Paul's brother Patrick is a Minneapolis police officer.
Westergreen has been with Roosevelt for 22 years and she says she can't remember if she had Paul Reuben in one of her classes. But she says she was impressed with his willingness to give something back to the school.
"The reaction you always get is 'oh no how could this happen? How could that happen to him?' And you always wish the best and really pray with the family - for the family - that everything will come out OK," Westergreen says.
Joanne Moore, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said she couldn't provide any specific details on Reuben's situation, citing privacy and security concerns. She said the department had been in touch with family members of all the Americans taken. Reuben is the only one so far whose identity has been publicly revealed.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)
- All Things Considered, 11/17/2006, 5:15 p.m.