November 28, 2005

(UPDATED) American Among Those Kidnapped With Peace Activists in Iraq

UPDATE 11/29 A.M.: Christian Peacemakers has confirmed to The Jawa Report that the hostages were indeed taken from their organization. However, at this time, Christian Peacemakers has declined to release the names of the one American and two Canadian hostages.

Related: German woman taken hostage in Iraq, hostage video released.

Developing.........

UPDATED: Scroll down for updates. "Humanitarian" group named in MSM actually a peace activist group there to monitor U.S. and Iraqi 'abuses'. This story is becoming more and more like the Giuliana Sgrena drama as facts are slowly uncovered.

The so-called aid workers were actually part of a peace organization which focuses on alleged U.S. abuses. Which is the one political party that this 'peace' organization decides to meet in Baghdad? The Iraqi Communist Party.

Scroll down for more specifics and updates
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An American was among the Westerners kidnapped in Iraq over the weekend as reported earlier here and here. The U.S. State Department continues its insane policy of not releasing the name of the kidnapped victim. We will report his name and the name of the two Canadians as soon as we get word.

More information about Norman Kember is below.

Tribune-Democrat:

An American citizen is missing in Iraq, the U.S. Embassy said Monday, apparently one of four humanitarian workers reported kidnapped a day earlier.
As reported earlier by Bluto, by "humanitarian workers" the article means "peace activists." This is earily remindful of Giuliana Sgrena, Simona Pari and Simona Torretta all of whom were taken hostage and then later relesed because of their pro-terrorist views.
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Colton said only that an American had been reported missing. The person's name was not immediately released. Dan McTeague, parliamentary secretary for Canadians abroad, also refused identify the Canadians, their organization or the location where they were kidnapped to protect their safety.
Here is some more information in addition to what Bluto recorded here about Norman Kember, the only hostage who has been positively identified.

Norman Kember was an officer in the Baptist Peace Fellowship which proclaims:

The FELLOWSHIP was founded as a fellowship of Baptist ministers with pacifist convictions; later it was expanded to include all Baptist Pacifists, and in 1940 became affiliated to the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR).

WE AIM to provide a fellowship for Baptists who feel constrained by their Christian faith to renounce war and to stir the minds and consciences of our fellow Baptists so that they may come to see that military force cannot be reconciled with the teaching of Jesus Christ and His acceptance of the Cross; to work at all times for reconciliation, justice and the things that make for peace in national, community, church and personal life.

WE BELIEVE that we will be led to witness in ways appropriate to the conditions in which we find ourselves. Like the early Christians we endeavour to talk to those whom we meet about the good news of the gospel of the Prince of Peace.

So, on the one hand he's a peacenick, but on the other hand we have this letter from him in which he talks of joining an evangelical peace group willing to give up their lives testifying of Christ. Such evangelizing is forbidden in even the moderate forms of Islam--the penalty is death. He quotes the movement which he seems to be about to join thus
We must prepare to die by the thousands
So, he was a radical fundamentalist Christian, prepared to be killed for his beliefs. Unfortunately, he may find himself a martyr before long.

As always, The Jawa Report will be following this hostage story carefully. Please e-mail tips to mypetjawa-at-gmail-dot-com.

UPDATE: Here is a picture of Norman Kember at a Hiroshima vigil. He is the on the right.

norman_kember.jpg

In response to Rhonda's comments that Kember would never try and evangelize a Muslim, I offer this, penned by Norman Kember himself:

Peace people may spend rather a lot of time talking to the 'converted'. We work and pray for new conversions!
Of course, he was talking about 'conversions' to peace--which makes one wonder exactly what the Christian peace movement's agenda is? Is it to convert people to Christ--a sign of which is pacificism? Or is it to convert people to pacifism--in which case Christ is, well, exactly what?

My reading of Kember's public statements is that he is a committed Christian pacifist in the Mennonite. Jehovah's Witness or Quaker sense. As such he is a perfect example of Christian fundamentalism vs. Islamic fundamentalism. Christian fundamentalists take Jesus' 'turn the other cheek' and Paul's exhortation to Roman soldiers to 'do no violence' very seriously and, indeed, are willing to die for their beliefs but never kill for them (in the Catholic tradition, Augustine is a good example).

Muslim fundamentalists, on the other hand, follow the example and teachings of Muhammed perfectly when they kill.

Hence 'religious fundamentalism' is not really that big of a problem when the religion is fundamentally pacifist. The Dali Lama is another good example of a person taking his religion seriously, yet posing no threat of violence.

UPDATE II: WRAL:

The four were believed to be affiliated with Christian Peacemakers, one of the few Western humanitarian organizations still operating in Iraq. The organization's Web site states that among other things, the group seeks to expose and document abuses of Iraqis by U.S. and coalition forces.
In addition to their involvement in Iraq, Christian Peacemakers sends activists to Arizona to protest U.S. border policy.

Kenberer and the other hostages would have been part of this group, scheduled to be in Iraq from Nov. 17th to Dec. 1st:

As Iraq continues to suffer under unstable and difficult conditions, delegates will meet with representatives of nongovernmental organizations, fledgling Iraqi civil society groups, the US military, and others, to assess the current situation. They will may visit hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches, and will talk with Iraqis whose loved ones have been detained by US forces or under the previous regime. Based primarily in Baghdad, the delegation may travel to outlying areas.

COST: US $3000 US, which includes round-trip airfare.

If you don't recall, Giuliana Sgrena was interviewing refugees from Fallujah about U.S. 'attrocities' in that city when she was first abducted. This group must have had dealings with Sgrena in the past as they also have been active in the campaign to portray the U.S. clearing of murderous clerics from Fallujah (more here, here, here, and here) in the worst light.

Here is the scenario as it might have happened. A group of peace activists (dubbed 'aid workers' by MSM) go to Iraq trying to prove that the U.S. are the bad guys in Iraq. They then go and talk with the 'resistance' who they believe are the good guys. They are shocked when some terrorists show up at meeting with 'resistance' and kidnap them.

Possibly outcome? a) Sgrena scenario--terrorists release infidels after they have been paid off and realize hostages are really allies b) Enzo Baldoni scenario--terrorists don't care that hostages there to help, behead the infidels c) rescued by U.S. forces

Another Update: Ekklesia:

Kidnappee Professor Norman Kember, aged 74, is a long-time advocate of nonviolence. He has been involved both in the Baptist Peace Fellowship and in Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR), an international network of religious pacifists.

An opponent of war and occupation in Iraq, Professor Kember had decided to join a two-week visit to the insurgency-torn country.

He had been telling friends, and wrote in a recent FoR newsletter, that he could not remain a spectator any longer. He understood the risks involved, he said.

The team he was working in was established by Mennonites and other historic peace churches in North America. It works to build trust and cooperation among conflicting groups, and works through the invitation and agency of local peace, social justice and human rights workers.

Local security forces and a multinational hostage team are currently searching for all four humanitarian workers.

Speaking on Channel 4 News (UK) this evening, Bruce Kent – a high profile peace campaigner, former Catholic priest, and close friend of Norman Kember – said that he was a strong and resourceful person.

It is uncertain whether the professor has been captured by a group with a political motive, or by one of the hundreds of criminal gangs seeking to make money out of hostage taking in a lawless environment.

Asked whether it was foolish to venture into Iraq under such volatile conditions, Mr Kent said that Professor Kember’s Christian faith and peacemaking convictions were such that he was prepared to take risks which other might regard as unwise.

A spokesperson for the Baptist Peace fellowship said that he was a man who lived out his beliefs with courage and compassion.

Notice that the man's kidnapping is blamed on 'volatile conditions'--a stealth way of blaming the U.S. for destabilizing the country. I'd like to see Kember try the same type of activism directed toward the ruling regime under Saddam Hussein. Why not blame the peace group for its naivite for meeting with anti-Coalition forces?

Yet Another Update: This time from the Independent:

His group, who were investigating human rights abuses, had reportedly been travelling with "minimal security" when they were seized in the west of the city after dark on Saturday.

The men were in the final days of a two-week fact-finding trip with a Canada-based humanitarian organisation, Christian Peacemaker Teams (PCT). The group, which was working with Iraqi groups and was not involved in missionary work, had been due to return on Friday.

How does a 'Christian' group not engage in missionary activity? Very odd, indeed. More
The Rev Alan Betteridge, president of the UK Baptist Peace Fellowship, who has known Mr Kember for more than 40 years, said: "Norman is a very committed worker for non-violence and peacemaking. He is a very gentle man, quiet, with a good sense of humour.

"He does not try to force his views on people - a listener rather than a talker and very committed to what he believes. I hope he has the opportunity to tell his captors about his work."

CPT, a pacifist group based in Toronto which cites the removal of coalition forces from Iraq as one of its aims, declined to comment on the abductions.

This despite the fact that a previous delegation had learned that the Iraqis don't want the U.S. to leave right away. From a report filed by a CPT group just back from Iraq. Notice the double-talk:
Virtually all Iraqi's we talked to would like for US troops to leave. now. Most that we talked with said that they know immediate with drawl is impractical in that they believe a civil war will result if the troops leave now. Few had a real passion about the US troops leaving right now [italics mine].
More from the Independent:
Mr Kember was part of a delegation of around eight people who had gone to Iraq to meet local human rights campaigners and assist with the setting up of a Muslim peacemakers' organisation. The organisation had sent four previous civilian delegations to Iraq.
Others: Chad at ITB, Unpartisan, Gung Ho, Dissonance and Disrespect, Politechnical

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:25 PM | Comments |