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FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007

Iraqi colonel missing from Alabama air base

MONTGOMERY (AP) — An Iraqi military officer attending an Air Force training program in Montgomery has disappeared and is being sought by federal and local law enforcement, a U.S. Customs official said Thursday.

Temple Black, a spokesman for Customs at its New Orleans office, said the Iraqi was attending a U.S. Department of Defense training course. The Iraqi's identity was not released.

"There is no indication that this student is a national security or public safety concern," Black said in a statement.

Foreign military officers take training courses through the Air University at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery.

The Washington Times reported Thursday that an Air Force colonel disappeared along with his family after taking a leadership training course at Maxwell since last fall as part of U.S. efforts to rebuild the Iraqi air force. The newspaper, quoting an official familiar with the case who was not named, said the Iraqi "left a note stating that he was leaving the yearlong military course because he did not want to return to war-torn Iraq."

The Maxwell-Gunter public information office referred questions about the Washington Times story to the U.S. Customs office.

Black's brief statement said Customs "is working with its law enforcement counterparts and will continue to provide support to the Air Force's investigation."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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