December 07, 2005
(Images/Video/Transcript) Hostages Urge U.S./U.K. to Leave Iraq in New Video
A new video released by terrorists on an Islamic website today shows two of the four peace activists held hostage in Iraq in a scripted message asking for U.S. and U.K. troops to withdraw from Iraq. In the video, British hostage Norman Kember and American hostage Thomas Fox urge U.S. and U.K. withdrawal from Iraq several times, sometimes repeating themselves word for word.
Canadian hostages James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden are not seen on the video.
The Jawa Report has obtained a copy of the video (hat tip Tribeca). A transcript of the video and images from it are posted below. The video is being hosted by Laura Mansfield here in Real format and by Ogrish here (note: Ogrish's site has been revamped so that it is now safe for work) in .wmv format.
Although the group claiming to hold Kember calls itself 'The Swords of Truth Brigade', the website is linked to the Islamic Army in Iraq, the same group which has threatened to murder American civilian Ronald Schulz.
The hostages are seen blindfolded and in heavy chains. Like many other hostage videos, they are made to wear the orange jumpsuits reminiscent of Abu Ghraib. The video shows the hostages repeating their lines, sometimes in more than one take and at the direction of a voice heard offscreen.
Here is a transcript from the video:
American hostage Thomas Fox:A statement accompanying the video said the following (translated by Laura Mansfield):
I'd like to offer my pleas to the people of America, not to the government of America--a plea for my release from captivity and also a plea for a release from captivity of all the people of Iraq. We are all suffering from the same fate, and that is the occupation of the American troops and the British troops which have brought me to this condition and has brought the Iraqi people to the condition they are in. So I would ask the people of America to do what they can to free us all from this captivity.
American hostage Thomas Fox in a second take:
We plea for my release from captivity and also a plea for the people of Iraq for the release from their captivity of the occupation of the American and British soldiers. We are all suffering the same fate, and the only way that we can all be free is for the American and British soldiers to leave Iraq as soon as possible.
British hostage Norman Kember:
I'm a Christian Peacemaker. I'm a friend of Iraq. I have been opposed to this war, Mr. Blair's war, since the very beginning. I ask of him now, and the British government, to do all that they can to work for my release and the release of the Iraqi people from oppression.
(Directed to say more from voice offscreen)
I have been opposed to the war, the British troops in Iraq, from the very beginning and I ask Mr. Blair, the British government, and the British people, to work both for my release and for the release of the Iraqi people from oppression.
(pans to two hostages, Norman Kember and Thomas Fox side by side, sounds of horn honking outside--end)
In response to the statements of the British Foreign SecretaryThis is by far the most scripted hostage video we have seen to date. It's resemblence to the Giuliana Sgrena video is uncanny. I'm just surprised we did not see the hostages forced to cry.
Praise be to Allah the Lord of the World, and prayers and peace to the Honest Prophet, and to his Family and his Companions:
So that all the world knows that we are standing by our legitimate demands and that we have heard the statements of the British Foreign Secretary, and so that we prove to the world that they are not serious in what they say, and so that we can show the liar who lies to the world, we extend the deadline for two more days to that the world can see the difference between the truthful ones and the liars.
The Sword of Righteousness Brigades
What is equally disturbing is the fact that the hostages probably believe every word they say. The video was every bit as predictable in it's content as it was disturbing.
UPDATE: I've been asked how to interpret the video. The images on the video are disturbing. Orange jumpsuits are often used by terrorist organizations in beheading and other snuff videos they produce. The shackles are also disturbing in that they are there to server as a symbol of humiliation.
The blindfolds are also very disturbing. If you remember the Giuliana Sgrena videos, she looked right into the camera as she cried.
So, the visuals tell the story that these hostages lives are indeed in danger.
However, what is being said is very different than what one would expect if the terrorists really were serious with their threats. Usually the hostages plea for their lives, but these are only told to plea for their release.
Speculating that their lives are not really in danger, though, is a luxery pundits have and that intelligence officials do not have. They must, out of necessity, treat the hostages as if their lives were immediately in danger because to assume otherwise, and be wrong, is too risky.
More images below.
New video footage has emerged in which British hostage Norman Kember calls for UK troops to be pulled out of Iraq.Developing
"I ask Mr Blair to... leave the Iraqi people to come to their own decisions on their government," says Mr Kember, 74, and from Pinner, London.
The peace activist and three other Westerners seized in Baghdad last month were shown in handcuffs and shackles.
The kidnappers have threatened to kill them if Iraqi detainees in the country are not freed by Thursday.