Those who know Jeffrey Ake were struggling with the news Wednesday that he had been kidnapped in Iraq while working as a contractor there this week.
A videotape aired by Al-Jazeera television Wednesday showed Ake, 47, of LaPorte, being held at gunpoint. The American Embassy said he was kidnapped from a water treatment plant near Baghdad on Monday.
A video aired April 13, 2005 by Al-Jazeera television showed Jeffrey Ake, 47, of LaPorte, being held at gunpoint. The U.S. Embassy said Ake was kidnapped in Iraq on April 11.
"It's really almost as though someone had kicked me in the stomach when I learned that Jeff Ake had been taken hostage," LaPorte Mayor Leigh Morris told RTV6's Jennifer Carmack
Ake is the owner of Equipment Express, a business in Rolling Prairie, Ind., that manufactures bottling equipment. He was working to install water-bottling equipment in Iraq when he apparently was abducted Monday, Carmack reported.
The Al-Jazeera tape showed a man sitting behind a desk with at least three assailants -- two hooded and one off-camera -- pointing assault rifles at him. Ake, wearing an open-collar shirt with rolled-up shirt sleeves, was sitting or kneeling behind a wooden desk and holding what appeared to be a photo and a passport.
The station did not air audio of the video, but said the man asked the U.S. government to save his life and to begin talks with the Iraqi resistance.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the Bush administration is in touch with Ake's family, but said there would be no negotiations with the kidnappers.
Ake's family didn't talk to the news media Wednesday. David Christian, a friend and business associate of Ake, said he was shocked to learn of the kidnapping.
"To see him in this situation with the hooded terrorists is just unbelievable," Christian said, referring to the Al-Jazeera video.
U.S. Rep. Chris Chocola, whose district includes LaPorte, said in a statement that he encouraged everyone to pray for Ake's safety.
"I am working closely with the Ake family and Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice's office to make sure everything possible is being done to address this serious situation," Chocola said.
Morris said Ake is a strong person with strong faith.
"He is resourceful. He is a positive thinker. So, yes, he is well equipped," Morris said. "I wouldn't want him to be in this situation, but he is better equipped to handle it than most of us would be."
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