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Mourning families seek answers

By Amy Forliti

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — When it came to the Reuben twins, Paul was the leader and Patrick the follower.

Paul went into the Marine Corps. Then Patrick did too. Paul became a police officer. So did Patrick.

Sometimes, Patrick said, their bond was strong enough that they could sense how the other was doing. Once, Patrick recalled with a slight laugh, he woke up with a headache — only to learn later that Paul had a hangover.

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But recently, Patrick Reuben felt dread as he waited to learn the fate of his brother, Paul Johnson-Reuben, one of six Western security contractors kidnapped over a year ago in two separate incidents in Iraq. On Thursday, officials announced they had identified Johnson-Reuben’s remains, as well as those of Joshua Munns, of Redding, Calif.

"We’ve been hoping for a very long time that he would come home safely. And the last month and a half I have been thinking about him constantly," Patrick Reuben said. "It’s just been really weird over the last month. I felt like something happened."

The remains of two other contractors — Ronald Withrow, of Roaring Springs, Texas, and John Roy Young, of Kansas City, Mo., were identified earlier this week. FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said authorities were awaiting forensic testing on the remains of a fifth body.

The FBI said the men’s remains have been returned to the U.S.

Still, the Reuben family had no details about how Johnson-Reuben, of Minneapolis, died and what might have happened during his 16 months in captivity. Patrick Reuben wants answers, he said, "Otherwise I’d always wonder what happened to my brother."

Munns’ mother, Jackie Stewart, of Ridgefield, Wash., said she had felt certain that her son was dead since she learned Sunday that the bodies had been found.

"When I first knew about it, it was relief, No. 1, that I finally know the answer and, No. 2, that he’s not suffering," Stewart said. "He’s not scared. He’s not in pain. He’s not being mutilated. He’s not being tortured."

At the same time, Stewart said, she will continue to press for answers about her son’s abduction and the effort to track him down.

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"I think because he was ex-military that they could have done a lot better job protecting him or looking for him than they did," she said.

The other contractors still missing are Jonathon Cote, of Getzville, N.Y., and Bert Nussbaumer, of Vienna, Austria.

Cote’s family said on its blog Wednesday night that the body still awaiting identification is not Jonathon’s. "Please remember to pray for Jon’s safety and the loss of the other hostages and their families," the post said.

Reuben, Munns, Young, Cote and Nussbaumer worked in Iraq for Crescent Security Group, a Kuwait-based private security firm. They were kidnapped Nov. 16, 2006, by men in Iraqi police uniforms who ambushed a convoy they were escorting.

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