The British military announced they had air-dropped former hostages Norman Kember, James Loony and Harmeet Singh Sooden into the Iraqi desert, two weeks after their rescue from a house west of Baghdad. The men had been held by insurgents for four months.
Since their release, the three Christian men had spoken with deep admiration and respect for their captors, while not offering any degree of gratitude to the British commandos who saved them.
"We realised we made a huge mistake," said Captain Ian Coates of the British Army, "and it was time to return these men to the people they love and respect."
Coates wistfully related the story of how the former hostages were told of the decision to reunite them with their Iraqi brethren.
"To keep it a surprise, we gathered the men in the middle of the night. They were so surprised and excited, we needed to duct tape their mouths and tie them up. But there was no doubt they were overjoyed to be returning to Iraq. Their eyes were as big as saucers, and Kember even wet his jammies!"
The men were flown by helicopter into Iraq at dawn. Coates struggled to keep his composure as he described the reunion.
"The air drop was a remarkable moment, something I was honoured to see," he said. "The men were writhing around, screaming and crying with joy. There wasn't a dry eye in the helicopter as we rolled them out."
The British military was concerned that the men would not be picked up quickly, leaving them to wander in the desert. So each man was given a bright red parachute emblazoned with one of the famed Danish Mohammed cartoons.
"The cartoons really did the trick," said Coates. "You could see insurgents gathering to welcome them. Some even set fires to guide them as they landed. We could hear chants of welcome even over the whir of the rotors. Did you ever see Born Free? It was like that, but better."
Coates would not comment on reports that the three men were wearing "Jesus Rules, Mohammed Drools" T-shirts.