March 23, 2006

Western Hostages Rescued by Coalition Forces (UPDATED)

A great day for those of us following hostages in Iraq closely!! Three peace activists from the Christian Peacemakers Team held hostage in Iraq have been freed by Coalition Forces. Ironically, the CPT activists were in Iraq to document alleged human rights abuses by U.S. mililtary forces. The three rescued are Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden, and Briton Norman Kember.

Scroll down for updates.

American Tom Fox was found murdered on the streets of Baghdad last week by those the CPT claimed were simply 'insurgents' and who the CPT clearly believed were responding to Western aggression.

We are very happy to learn that at least three of the four hostages have been released and wish to congratulate our soldiers who took part in the raid. A job well done.

The Jawa Report's complete archives about these four hostages can be found here. For information about the other hostages still held in Iraq, including American Dean Sadek, please see our extensive hostage archives.

The CPT is a Leftist organization which claims to be pacifist and 'Christian,' but which focuses all of its efforts against Western governments. The four 'peacemakers' were taken hostage near the same mosque where Giuliana Sgrena had been abducted. Also, like the communist newspaper writer, the four activists were at the mosque to interview persons displaced by the Fallujah offensive and to document various 'war crimes' committed by U.S. troops.

Today, the CPT insulted the U.S. and other Coalition troops who daringly rescued the three peace activists by releasing this announcement. In it they compare the taking of hostages and their subsequent murders to Coalition Forces who detain suspected terrorists:

Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families. In the spirit of the prophetic nonviolence that motivated Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom to go to Iraq, we refuse to yield to a spirit of vengeance. We give thanks for the compassionate God who granted our friends courage and who sustained their spirits over the past months. We pray for strength and courage for ourselves so that, together, we can continue the nonviolent struggle for justice and peace.

Throughout these difficult months, we have been heartened by messages of concern for our four colleagues from all over the world. We have been especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. That support continues to come to us day after day. We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq.

During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?

The four hostages were abducted by a group calling themselves The Swords of Righteousness Brigade. However, as first revealed on The Jawa Report, the group has been linked to the Islamic Army in Iraq and is probably a brigade or front for the well known Islamist terror organization. The Jawa Report was also the first U.S. media outlet to release the names of the four hostages.

NY Times story about the raid:

The delegation coordinator for the group, Claire Evans, said by telephone that Mr. Loney, a 41-year-old Canadian, had contacted his family this morning from the Green Zone, the fortified compound in Baghdad where some American military forces, Iraqi government offices and the American Embassy are located.

"He said that they were all in reasonable health," she said, adding that the three men were undergoing medical checks.

The men were freed by multinational forces in a military operation.

The hostages were found when American-led forces raided a house in western Baghdad, acting on information from one of two detainees interrogated late Wednesday night, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a spokesman for the American military, said at a news conference in Baghdad. The kidnappers were not in the house. The men were in "relatively good condition," he said.

In London, the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said the mission had included British forces.

"It follows weeks and weeks of very careful work by military and coalition personnel in Iraq and many civilians as well," Mr. Straw said, adding that it involved a number of countries, including Canadian personnel.

Mr. Straw said that Mr. Kember was in "reasonable" condition and that the two Canadians had to have hospital treatment. He said he had spoken with Mr. Kember's wife. "Of course, it goes without saying that she is absolutely delighted, elated, with this news," Mr. Straw said.

The Loney family released a statement today saying that Mr. Loney had been released unharmed with his two companions.

"What a joyful day this is," the family's statement said. "We have just learned that James is coming home." The statement also expressed sympathy for Mr. Fox's family.

This post will be updated throughout the day as more information on the raid that freed these hostages becomes available. Traderrob's earlier breaking story is here and Vinnie's here.

Thank you for the dozens of people who e-mailed tips about this to us.

It would do well for us all to remember that the statements downplaying the hostages' rescue are coming from the CPT, and not from the hostages themselves. I have a feeling that the hostages, who were so critical of the U.S. and so praising of terrorists in the past, will have a different take now. The murder of Tom Fox is a good indication they weren't treated quite as well as Giuliana Sgrena.

Update: No Pasaran notices this from a British peace activist on the BBC:

Of course I would like to thank the Foreign Office and, ,b>if it was the military that helped free him, then them too. But the Muslim community has really behaved in a wonderful way.
Yes, Muslims have been so helpful....oh, and the military if it was indeed the military that rescued these guys. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

And via Small Dead Animals we are pointed to this from Relapsed Catholic who notices this little nugget:

In reaction Kember's friend, Bruce Kent (...) said the miltants holding the hostages 'must have been people of great faith.'
Indeed. They took the example of early associates of Muhammed who also practiced hostage taking and which tradition tells us the Prophet (PBUH) approved of. That's one fine & peaceful religion you got there.

12:30 Update: The Left (see for instance Body and Soul or A Lovely Promise) is already talking as if their release was negotiated. The implication being that it wasn't the military that should get the credit but, instead, diplomacy. However, had the Left removed their tinfoil long enough they would have realized that tips from detainees led to their rescue and that finding hostages alone is not necessarily uncommon. For instance, Roy Hallums was released in a similar manner. A tip led to our troops finding him and when the troops got their his captors had fled. Knowing cousin Achmed just got captured and then hearing the sounds of helicopters and the approach of an Abrams tank might be enough to send even the bravest of terrorists fleeing.

UPDATE 12:45: Families react

Ed Loney said his freed brother "sounded fantastic" when he telephoned their mother in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario - and had apologised for putting the family through such an ordeal.

"He told them that he was well and that he was concerned about us and the family and other people who were worried, which is pretty typical of Jim, to put others first," he said.

His parents issued a short statement saying: "What a joyful day this is. We have just learned that James is coming home... We would like to thank everyone for their support and prayers." ...

Mr Sooden's father, Dalip Singh Sooden, said he had talked to his son.

"It's like it's unbelievable. I just don't remember what I said to him and what he said to me," he said.

"I've seen him on video and he looked like he's probably lost 10kg or something, but it was traumatic today, it was good. I still can't believe it."

Mark Brewer, the brother-in-law of Mr Sooden, said from his home in Auckland, New Zealand, that relatives were planning to go to Baghdad to bring him home.

"We're just looking forward to getting hold of him, giving him a big hug and bringing him back home to his family," Mr Brewer said.

He told TV One News in New Zealand the ordeal had been "excruciating", particularly since the death of Mr Fox.

And for the hate the military crowd, more information on the rescue. It was intelligence work that led to their release, not negotiations. Reuters:
Weeks of intelligence work in lawless west Baghdad and a rapid response by special forces to information extracted from a prisoner led to British troops' rescue of three Christian peace activists in Baghdad on Thursday.

British and U.S. officials were reluctant to give details of the release of Canadians Harmeet Sooden and Jim Loney and Briton Norman Kember, not wishing to jeopardize efforts to free several other hostages believed still held around the capital.

"It was part of ongoing operations related to hostages," said British military spokesman Wing Commander Tony Radcliffe....

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "It follows weeks and weeks of very careful work by military Coalition personnel in Iraq and many civilians as well."

That suggested that the arrest of the man who provided the final tip was the product of detective work rather than chance.

Special police teams, apparently from Britain and possibly Canada, had been working on the ground since the four men were seized in west Baghdad on November 26, British officials said, stressing the role civilians played in the process.

The following part of the story sounds very smilar to the rescue of our friend Roy Hallums:
The dawn raid that found the three hostages tied up and unguarded in a house was led by British troops and involved others from the U.S.-led Coalition, officials said.

They were acting on intelligence obtained three hours earlier from one of two people arrested the night before.

Though not a shot was fired, it is likely the operation was led by special forces ready to quell resistance and, especially, get the captives out unharmed after four months in captivity: "It was a fairly clinical extraction," Radcliffe said.

Great job troops and any police officers involved!

Update 1:00 P.M.: More from CNN:

Iraqi police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said it was believed the operation took place in Mishahda, 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Baghdad, AP reported.
And from the Independent:
Maj Gen Lynch told reporters in Baghdad: "Late last night, coalition forces conducted an operation and it came up with two detainees.

"These two detainees provided actionable intelligence about the location of the Christian Peacemaker Team hostages.

"We got that information at eight o'clock this morning and we conducted the operation.

"We moved to the location in western Baghdad that was reported for the location of the Christian Peacemaker Team.

"We conducted an assault on the house and inside the house we found the three hostages, in good condition.

"There were no kidnappers there at the time. The three hostages were by themselves."

The hostages were then freed, debriefed and taken to a hospital for medical checks.

"The key point is it was intelligence-led. It was information provided by a detainee," he said.

"In this particular case, of those two detainees, one knew where the hostages were and provided that information.

"The operation was planned and executed and the effect was the safe return of the three hostages."

"There seems to be a kidnapping cell that has been robust over the last several months in conducting these kind of kidnappings.

"It was a coalition forces operation so it involved all sorts of members of the coalition.

"The size and magnitude of the operation I'm not going to walk you through, because we have got other operations that continue."...

The early morning operation took place in a rural area north west of Baghdad, between the towns of Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad, and the western suburb of Abu Ghraib, 12 miles from the city centre.

Update 1:15: Interesting. Canadian troops are in Iraq. This will come as quite a shock to most Canadians.
"The operation included representatives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, other agencies from Canada – and they did a terrific job – as well as the Americans and British staff and those from Iraq," said Straw....

Canadian military personnel were involved in the operation, according to Pentagon sources, but it's not clear how many took part or what their role was. There have been reports that members of Canada's top secret commando unit, Joint Task Force 2, have been working in Iraq.

Update 5:00: Via Beth (ps--thanks for sending your troll over Beth....), here is some more from a DOD press release. It mentions that the rescue was in downtown Baghdad.

Also:

Three members of a group of Christian peace activists have been released from a hospital, where they were taken after their rescue by U.S. and British forces in Iraq today.
Good to know the trio are alright.

Others (apologies for multiple trackbacks--something wrong on my side that I can't fix for some reason. Sorry. I know how annoying it can be.):

Exposing the Left: From reading the statement one might assume that they had escaped completely on there own. My suggestion....give them back.

Bluto: The really good news is that the rescue was effected without resistance, so soldiers weren't put at further risk by the this foolish group's irresponsible behavior.

Michelle Malkin notes: For crying out loud. Many readers note that the CPT statement refers to the hostages' "release" instead of their rescue.


Mr. T
: On Easter, will they thank Christ for rescuing them from their sins? Or will they give props to Satan for letting them go?

Stop the ACLU says: That in itself can be viewed as an admiral conviction to their faith, even if misguided, but in conjuction with absolutely no gratitude towards the brave souls that rescued them it comes across more like spit in the face.

CDR Salamander: I hope this gets the play it deserves

Lawhawk: Too bad their experience being kidnapped, held for more than four months, and potentially witnessing one of their fellow victims murdered has done nothing to disabuse them of their notions of a heroic insurgency seeking to overthrow the coalition's efforts at building a democratic government in Iraq.

Soldier's Angels Germany: Thank you to the US and British troops who risked their lives to help others. Well done and congratulations on a successful operation.

Beltway Blitz: You see, Iraq was a pretty peaceful place before the United States and its fellow Western pillagers showed up. Michael Moore told us so. He said kids got to fly kites before the evil Westerners showed up to depose Saddam. And as soon as they leave, it's going to be all better. Life in Iraq will be grand.

Church and State: This is so typical.

Darleen: Since these "Christian" peace terrorist-enablers won't thank the US and British forces for their lives, let me say to those brave soldiers - Gentlemen, ladies there are those who grateful for your dedication and your bravery. We salute you. Be assured we will not denigrate your efforts or spit on you upon your return home.

Sister Toldjah: As a Christian, it shames me to see fellow Christians who seem ungrateful towards the brave and courageous members of our military who rescued them.

Publius Rendezvous: Just as these activists are not grateful to their own rescuers, so are the same protesters who mock those that secure their rights and freedom.

Point Five: The AP, whose editorial guidelines and ’stylebook’ sets strict policy to avoid such controversy, more accurately reported late Wednesday the “abduction” of the three peace activists by US Military forces. “The three were seized in a raid in the early hours, when the house where they were peacemaking was stormed by members of the US Special Forces.”

Demonrats: The most bizarre part of this whole putting flowers in guns movement is that these weaselly chickenshits absolutely NEVER try to put the flowers in the guns of the enemies that we are fighting.

Martin's Musings: Memo to the Christian Peacemaker Teams: loving your enemies is perfectly fine, but the fact remains that you were kidnapped by terrorists with no intentions of releasing you.

Paxalles: Could this be a cover for the total failure of their [CPT's] naive mission?

Inigo Montoya: "Released"? I do not think that word means what you think it means...

Gina Cobb: So if it's fair game to point out what's "illegal," why not a single word about the illegal and barbarous kidnapping and detention of four members of the CPT and the illegal torture and murder of Tom Fox?

Clarity and Resolve: Way to give evil a pass, Mr. Pritchard. Tom Fox is dead—a bullet in his head and heart, following torture. There is no excuse for such savagery. God's work was not done here.

Hyscience:These people would be a joke, were they not so dangerous! Somehow the Left always sides against America. Remember when the Daily Kos suggested that the kidnapping of these leftists was part of a "Strategic Psychological Operation" to portray the "enemy" as barbarians who defile the Koran and slaughter pious Christians or that the kidnappers might be hired by the Iraqi police?

Blogfather: Lots of groveling to the Islamic world and overly demonstrative “sympathy” for the Iraqi people, but not one word of gratitude to the soldiers who freed their fellow moonbats.

Llama Butchers: Their willful blindness to the evil around them brings to mind Lenin's characterization of the Fabian Socialists: "useful idiots"- which is probably how the insurgents see them.

James Joyner: I suspect they wouldn’t like the interrogation techniques that led to the intel that made their rescue possible, either.

Say Anything: When you don't believe that a war is just you can't ever see your way clear to appreciate what our troops are doing. Not even when they rescue you from people who were hold you captive and murdered your friend.

Six Meat Buffet: Do people still talk this way? Is al Zarqawi just a deeply insecure fellow who works out his issues on the necks of people?

Slublog: they couldn't even fit a simple 'thanks' into the release?

Dinocrat: Our rage is boundless as we read the lies of our supposed moral superiors

Gay Patriot: Remember: There can be no peace with out freedom. Iraq was not at peace under Saddam.

Ace: They're not for peace, they're just on the other side of assholish manners.

Others : Stuck on Stupid

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:14 AM | Comments |