March 22, 2007

"Christian" Hostage Wants Clemency for His Captors

A former British peace activist held hostage in Iraq wants to defend his captors in court. He's not just trying to shield them from the death sentence, but also from a "long prison sentence". He even believes that if they were released, that they may become hostage takers again.

As I've said from time to time on these pages, this is one of the logical outcome of Christian fundamentalism and New Testament literalism. Pacifism is a form of Christian fundamentalism and literalism.

I hope the reason I bring this up is obvious. But, to state the obvious to the clueless: When was the last time you met a Muslim literalilst or fundamentalist who was a pacifist? All religions, my friends, are not the same.

Christians face the problematic of justifying violence when pacifism, in my mind, is clearly an immoral position. As history shows, Christians have not had that hard of a time figuring out a way to justify violence when necessary (and often, when not necessary). But, most of the violence committed in Christianity's name comes only after the Church rejected a core literalist tennet: seperation of church and state.

Muslims, on the other hand, have quite the opposite problem. The Quran and the hadiths clearly show that violence is God's way of not only defending the faith, but also in spreading the faith and in enforcing its moral codes. Thus, for the Muslim, the problematic is justifying peace when the Quran, the sayings of Muhammed (hadiths), and Mohammed's example (sunna), when taken literally, indicate that "God" wants his "submitters" to act immorally.

And, like Christians who rejected a literal interpretation of Christ's "turn the other cheek" or Paul's invitation to soldier converts to "do no violence", because doing so in every situation would clearly be immoral (eg, allowing genocide), so too have many Muslims, over the years, worked out ways of justifying peaceful coexistence with infidels (eg, India--at least, from time to time) or in rejecting sharia as nothing more than a set of values not to be enforced by state power (eg, "liberal" or "secular" Muslims). Because human beings have a way of finding the moral thing to do, even when Allah commands them to "strike the neck of the unbelievers".

But just because we have the capacity to see the immorality of pacifism or of jihad & sharia, this does not mean that people always follow their conscience. Ideas can have powerful effects on killing our innermost humanity. Marxism is the main example that comes to mind. An idea so powerful that it lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people.

In any event, there is something deeply troubling about a man who takes his reading of the New Testament so literally that he wishes to translate his personal forgiveness of his hostage takers into a public policy stance which would set them free, only to take more people hostage. Of course, Norman Kember's forgiveness stance is much less troubling than Osama bin Laden's kill the infidel stance. Both are problematic, but only one leads to mass murder.

Reuters:

A year after his release from almost four months of captivity when he was chained to fellow hostages, deprived of daylight and denied contact with the outside world, Norman Kember wants to defend his captors.

The British peace activist, seized in Baghdad with two Canadians and an American in November 2005 and held hostage for 118 days, says he will plead for the lives of the men accused of holding him and killing his American friend Tom Fox even though he fears they could kidnap or murder again.

"It's certainly part of Christianity and it's part of other religions, that forgiveness and an attempt to restore people who have done you wrong is the most positive outcome of something like this," Kember said in a telephone interview.

Let me just add one more thing. Pacifism has been an essential part of a number of fundamentalist and literalist Christian sects for quite some time. But what is troubling about many of these so-called "Christian pacifists" is their relentless focus on stopping Western countries from war, but their total (or seemingly so) lack of interest for non-Westerners killing each other. Thus, their pacifism is really a form of anti-Americanism or anti-Westernism. Not all pacifists, of course, but a healthy number of them. For instance, how come there are no "Christian" human shields lining themselves up to protect Jews in Israel from attacks from Palestinian terrorists? Similarly, how come we don't see these so-called "peace activists" lining up for human shield duty at predominately Shia markets in Iraq?

For more, see our Norman Kember archives here.

PS-for the record, I am a "Christian" and a "fundamentalist" (ie, back to the basics) but not a Biblical "literalist". I go to church every week, in fact. I am a believer. Or, at least, a "suspecter". Which is what Orson Scott Card describes as, to paraphrase, something more than a "hoper" but something a little less than full of faith.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 09:02 AM | Comments |

November 08, 2006

Ex-Peacenick Hostage Won't Testify Against Terrorist Captors

I don't know whether to admire former hostage in Iraq Norman Kember for his principled stand or to think the worst about him for believing in those same principles which I think are misguided at best and evil at worst. The thought that one shouldn't testify against terrorists because they might receive the death penalty is so foreign to me that I'm speechless.

BBC News:

Former British hostage Norman Kember has said he is unlikely to testify at any trial over his kidnapping in Iraq....

Mr Kember told Channel 4 News he had been informed there had been arrests but said he faced a "moral dilemma" as he was against the death penalty.

The 74-year-old, who was opposed to the US-led action in Iraq, said he "can understand" what motivated the gang.

I take that back. Norman Kember is a first rate asshole. Clearly the modern peace movement is less about peace and more about hatred of the West and all it stands for.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:12 AM | Comments |

August 26, 2006

Murdered Hostage Families Sue Syria

The families of Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley--both civilian hostages murdered by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in Iraq--are suing the Syrian government.

AP:

Survivors of two civilian contractors taken hostage and beheaded in
Iraq filed a federal lawsuit Friday against Syria, which they claim supported the group who murdered him.
I feel sorry for the families, but I'm not clear just how Syria helped al Qaeda in Iraq? I'm sure that they are in contact with ex-Baathists terror organizations--such as the 1920s Revolution Brigade--but al Qaeda?
This is a step they can take to deter states who sponsor terrorists," said John Salter, an attorney for Jack Hensley's widow, Pati Hensley, and their teenage daughter, Sara.

The plaintiffs also include Francis Gates of Michigan and Holly Pettis, now living in Canada. They are the mother and sister, respectively, of Eugene "Jack" Armstrong, who was taken hostage and slain along with Hensley and a British co-worker.

The families are also seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. "The trick is collecting," Salter said.

Salter said the lawsuit is based on the attorneys' investigations that show Syria was responsible for supporting and harboring the group that killed the men in September 2004.

Wow, I'd like to see that evidence. It is clear that Syria is a state sponsor of terror, but they don't support all terror.

The lawsuit also names Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and a Syrian Air Force general. Keep an eye on this one. We may learn a thing or two about the Syria-insurgent connection through it.

Hat tip: Hostage watcher.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:54 PM | Comments |

April 15, 2006

Norman Kember is Thankful to Be Free


Peace Activist Norman Kember has given an interview to BBC. Kember is one classy peace activist. Norman was on eof the four CPT hostages. Kember also speaks well of Tom Fox who was murdered by the terrorists who held them.

Via BBC :Peace campaigner Norman Kember has given an emotional account of his ordeal as a hostage in Iraq.

Mr Kember, 74, of Pinner in north west London, was held in Baghdad for four months before his rescue on 23 March.

American peace worker Tom Fox, 54, was killed weeks before the rescue. When asked about his fellow hostage, Mr Kember said he was a "remarkable man".

His voice breaking with emotion, he spoke of the moment his rescuers arrived.

"We had this sort of futon thing on the floor, and we were lying there, and suddenly we heard noise outside and then somebody calling out and then the breaking of glass and then up the stairs came these SAS gents," he said.

"It's unbelievable because it was so sudden and first of all, because they were British, they wanted to know if 'Mr Kember' was there, and I said, 'Yes' and then they said, because I was the person at that stage chained to the door, 'This is a bolt-cutter job,' so they went down and cut the padlock and released me."

Mr Kember said he "continues to thank" his rescuers.

"They were brave. I disagree with their profession, but it is ironic isn't it - you go as a peace activist and you are rescued by the SAS, which is perhaps the most violent of all the British forces.

"Anyway I am grateful to them. I met one of them by chance on the way out of Baghdad and he was quite happy to chat to me and I was happy to chat to him."

We are glad you are safe too Mr. Kember.

Norman Kember Acrchive here.

The Jawa Report's Hostage Archive Here.

Don't forget hostage Jeffrey Ake and many others are still missing.

By Howie at 10:51 AM | Comments |

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 |

Troops free three Western hostages in Iraq

Once again coalition soldiers risk their lives to rescue those who would spit on them.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and British troops Thursday freed three Christian peace activists in rural Iraq without firing a shot, ending a four-month hostage drama in which an American among the group was shot to death and dumped on a Baghdad street.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the U.S. military spokesman, said the hostages were being held by a “kidnapping cell,” and the operation to free the captives was based on information from a man captured by U.S. forces only three hours earlier.

Read rest and a statement by Christian Peacemaker Teams, it's unbelievable.

Updates posted here: Western Hostages Rescued by Coalition Forces

By at 09:58 AM | Comments |

CPT Hostages Rescued

By US and Brit Special Forces.

Now that they've been rescued unharmed, I feel no reason to have any more sympathy for them, the ungrateful bastards.

stein hoist 6MB

UPDATE: backtiming this because traderrob scooped me and should get the top billing and all the nice comments.

Updates posted here: Western Hostages Rescued by Coalition Forces

By Vinnie at 09:57 AM | Comments |

March 10, 2006

American CPT Hostage Tom Fox Murdered


Tom was not seen in a video from the 'Swords of Righteousness Brigade' released March Seventh by Al-Jazeera. Today the FBI says that Tom was murdered.

Yahoo News :The FBI verified that a body found in Iraq Friday morning was that of Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., spokesman Noel Clay said. He said he had no information on the other three hostages.

Clay said he did not know how Fox was killed but said additional forensics will be done in the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is investigating, he said.

Fox's family has been notified, Clay said, and "our heartfelt condolences go out to them."

Yes what kind of group could possibly murder in cold blood a good peaceful Christian like this. He never hurt a fly. These terrorists cannot appeased or reasoned with. They have no respect for the kindness Tom surely showed the people of Iraq. May he rest in peace and may God keep him always. Again we must call for the release of all the remaining hostages.

Full details on the CPT hostages here

Jawa Report archives on all hostages in general here.

Rather sad Hat Tip : Jesusland Carlos and George Ramos.

Update : Tom was Tortured before his Murder.

Yahoo News : Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said Fox was found with his hands tied and gunshot wounds to his head and chest. There were cuts on his body and bruises on his head, indicating torture, he said. The corpse was dressed in Iraqi-made clothing.

Fox's body was found near a railway line in Dawoudi, a mixed Sunni-Shiite area that has been largely shielded from violence. Shocked local residents on Saturday condemned Fox's abduction and killing.

"These acts are terrorist ones and will hinder the political process and distort the reputation of Iraq," said Dhamir al-Samaraie, who had come to see where Fox was found.

So they Cut, Beat and Murdered an old man. That ought to please Allah.


By Howie at 09:53 PM | Comments |

March 07, 2006

New Christian Peacemakers Hostage Video


102 days into their captivity, a video has been broadcast by al Jazeera showing three of four activists held hostage in Iraq. Not shown in the video is American Tom Fox.

The video (no sound) can be seen here.

The video shows Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden, and Briton Norman Kember sitting on chairs. Although no audio was broadcast, al Jazeera reports that the three plead for their governments to help secure their release. The three also ask that Gulf States help them--a less than cryptic message asking for a ransom.

This video is the first in which such a request is made and confirms speculation that 'The Swords of Righteousness Brigade' is after money. The group has been linked to the Islamic Army in Iraq. It is not uncommon in Iraq for 'insurgents' to use ransoms paid for hostages to fund their terroristic activities.

It is not clear what significance, if any exists, there is to the fact that the sole American is not shown on the video. We hope and pray that he remains in good health.

As always, the Left-wing 'Christian' group used the opportunity to highlight their political agenda. In a press statement, the CPT attempted to highlight 'abuses' by the Multinational forces in Iraq. Further, they claim that the 'root cause' of the hostage taking "is the U.S. and British-led invasion and occupation of Iraq."

It's sad and disgusting that supposed 'Christians' would attempt to find fault with those who are trying to rescue the four hostages, rather than with those who are holding them.

We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the four hostages. Those who are holding them bear 100% of the responsibility for this depraved and barbaric act.

For more information on this see our extensive Christian Peacemakers hostage archives. For general information on hostage taking in Iraq see our Religion of Peace hostage archives.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:32 AM | Comments |

March 06, 2006

Christian Peacemakers: 100 Days in Captivity & Still No Word

Yesterday marked the 100th day of captivity for Norman Kember, 74, of England; Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and American Tom Fox, 54. The four pacifists are being held by terrorists linked to the Islamic Army in Iraq.

It is sad that Left wing organizations continue to use the hostage situation for their own political goals.

We pray for their immediate and unconditional release.

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

January 28, 2006

New Hostage Video of Four Western Peace Activists

four_peace_activists_hostage_new_video.jpgA new video has emerged of four Western peace activists being held hostage in Iraq. The hostages are: Norman Kember, 74, of England; Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and American Tom Fox, 54. Background information on the four peace activists held hostage in Iraq can be found here.

The video is a very bad sign. While al Jazeera chose not to air the audio from it, the video is said to demand the release of all Iraqi prisoners or the four Western hostages will be murdered. Up to this point, speculation has abounded that the 'Swords of Righteousness Brigade', the organization behind the hostage crisis, was a criminal organization interested in ransoming the hostages for money.

However, The Jawa Report was the first media outlet to reveal the 'The Swords of Righteousness Brigade' may be a front for the radical Islamist terror organization, The Islamic Army in Iraq. Analysts working for major MSM outlets later confirmed our initial reports.

The Islamic Army in Iraq has murdered foreign hostages in the past, including Italian Red Cross worker Enzo Baldoni, and has worked with Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq in the past.

More recent reports indicate that The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) has broken any ties it had with al Qaeda. There is even some indication that IAI and al Qaeda are openly fighting in some areas.

Thanks to George for sending this link LTV:

Al-Jazeera television broadcast the video Saturday showing the four hostages standing against a wall. The four have been held hostage since November 26, 2005 and is the only evidence of the four peace workers still being alive after the first deadline passed in early December.

The kidnappers, a group calling themselves the Swords of Righteousness, believe the men were spying for U.S.-led forces and threatened to kill them if Iraqis were not released from U.S. and Iraqi prisons.

The group issued a statement saying this was the "last chance" for authorities to release all Iraqi prisoners or "the hostages will be killed."

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:57 PM | Comments |

December 16, 2005

Hostage Negotiator Taken Hostage in Iraq

Reports are trickling in that a hostage negotiator who had made contact with the 'Swords of Righteousness Brigade' in an effort to free four Western peace activists has himself been taken hostage. The hostage negotiator is a local Iraqi who has previous experience in high-profile abductions. The man is said to have been missing since December 8th.

Norman Kember of England, American Thomas Fox, and Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were taken hostage by an unknown group calling themselves 'The Swords of Righteousness Brigade'. 'As first revealed at The Jawa Report, The Swords of Righteousness Brigade' has been linked to the Islamic Army in Iraq. The Islamic Army in Iraq is an al Qaeda linked Salaafist jihadi group that has murdered foreign hostages in the past.

Curiously, the Islamic Army in Iraq website has been silent on the fate of the four hostages. Even more curious is the fact that although the group claimed responsibility for the murder of American hostage Ronald Schulz at an online forum frequented by jihadis, the Islamic Army in Iraq website has made no mention of it nor have they released the usual hostage snuff video.

The fact that the negotiator sent in to obtain the release of the four hostages may have been taken hostage himself is a bad sign. Hope for the best, pray for a miracle, but be prepared for the worst.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:37 PM | Comments |

December 13, 2005

Islamic Army in Iraq Link to Peace Activist Hostages Confirmed

The Jawa Report was the first media outlet to report that there was a possible connection between the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, the group responsible for kidnapping four Western peace activists in Iraq, in a November 29th posting. In fact, what is said by the director of the SITE Institute in this Canadian National Post article comes awfully close to plagiarism.

The kidnappers holding four Christian activists hostage are connected to the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI), one of the country's leading insurgent groups, a U.S. researcher said yesterday.

Although the previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades has claimed it kidnapped the two Canadians, one Briton and one American, the SITE Institute said it had found ties to the Islamic Army. At least two of the videotaped statements issued by the hostage-takers were uploaded on to a hidden directory on the IAI Web site prior to broadcast, suggesting a link to the insurgent group, Rita Katz said.

"I would say that there is a strong connection between the hostage-takers and the Islamic Army," said Ms. Katz, director of SITE, a U.S. terrorist research organization that monitors jihadist Internet activities.

If correct, the link is worrisome because the Islamic Army has killed most of the hostages it has taken, including Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni. A statement from the group last week claimed that American consultant Ronald Allen Schulz had been executed....

The SITE Institute came across the IAI link last week, when the kidnappers issued a videotaped statement extending the deadline for meeting its demands until Saturday.

You'll notice that SITE came across the link a week ago, while The Jawa Report (with thanks to Tribeca and OVO) was reporting on the connection before they even discovered it:
The video showed Canadian hostages James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, as well as U.S. hostage Tom Fox, 54, and Briton Norman Kember, 74. All are members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Ms. Katz said the video was hidden on a part of the Islamic Army Web site that only those in contact with the administrator would have been able to access. The research group later discovered that another video issued by the kidnappers had also been uploaded on to the Islamic Army site. "Apparently the first video that was received was also posted on that same hidden directory," she said.

That hidden directory was first discovered by Tribeca, a mutual friend of Infovlad and The Jawa Report. The directory has been since deleted.
She did not go public with the information at the time, fearing it could prompt the kidnappers to kill the hostages. Instead, she alerted U.S. investigators in Iraq.
I also alerted the Feds on this, and now that this is in the open, that was why I deleted a certain mysterious post.
But she said now that the deadline has passed without word of the fate of the hostages, she felt it was time to make public the link to the major insurgent group, the second- or third-largest in Iraq....

The nature of the relationship between the hostage-takers and the Islamic Army remains unclear, but is being investigated by U.S. authorities. One expert speculated the Swords of Righteousness could be nothing more than a front for the Islamic Army, possibly set up to raise money through ransom while distancing itself from the unsavoury act of kidnapping for money.

Here is how we first reported the connection:

My sources indicate that "The Swords of Righteousness Brigade" may be an offshoot of The Islamic Army in Iraq. The announcement and video were posted on that group's website earlier today. The Islamic Army in Iraq has murdered foreign hostages in the past, including Italian Red Cross worker Enzo Baldoni, and has worked with Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq in the past. This is bad news for the hostages if confirmed.

The original announcement in Arabic can be downloaded here if some one would like to offer a better translation.

We love the SITE Institute and fully support their mission. What bothers me about this is that I sent this to SITE. I also notified the FBI about the connection. Further, I've said the same thing several times in other posts with no one in the MSM taking what I've said seriously. For instance:
The Islamic Army in Iraq has also been implicated in the kidnapping of four Western peace activists. Norman Kember of England, American Thomas Fox, and Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were taken hostage by an unknown group calling themselves 'The Swords of Righteousness Brigade'. However, that group has released its hostage videos on internet sites affiliated with The Islamic Army in Iraq.

Further, an examination of the document announcing that 'The Swords of Righteousness Brigade' would extend the hostage deadline reveals that the same author also prepared the Ronald Schulz announcement (thanks to Jay 87 and OvO). It is nearly certain, then, that some kind of relationship exists between The Islamic Army in Iraq and 'The Swords of Righteousnes Brigade'.

The Islamic Army in Iraq has known ties to al Qaeda and has worked with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al Qaeda offshoot in the past. The group has murdered dozens of hostages on video in the past, including Italian journallist and Red Cross worker, Enzo Baldoni.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:53 AM | Comments |

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:

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)

A statement accompanying the video said the following (translated by Laura Mansfield):
In response to the statements of the British Foreign Secretary

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the World, and prayers and peace to the Honest Prophet, and to his Family and his Companions:

And then:

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

This 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.

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.

BBC:

New video footage has emerged in which British hostage Norman Kember calls for UK troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

"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.

Developing

thomas_fox_3rd_hostage_video_1.jpg

thomas_fox_3rd_hostage_video_2.jpg

Norman_Kember_video_3rd_hostage_1.jpg

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:18 PM | Comments |

December 05, 2005

Hostage Video: "We are being treated well"

We have finally obtained portions of the unedited hostage video of four Western peace activists. The names of the four activists are American Thomas Fox--who is also a blogger, Canadians Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney, and British citizen Norman Kember. The Jawa Report was the first media outlet to reveal the names of the hostages.

You can watch the video here (hat tip: Shawn at Bareknucklepolitics, Ian at Political Teen, and Doubletap at Infovlad--all of whom e-mailed me)

Here is a transcript of the video, via Doubletap at Infovlad:

Thank you very much we are being treated well and we hope to be out of here soon.

Um We are being treated well we are both well all of us are well.

We are all being treated well we are sleeping ok um and um we would like to thank the people holding us for that and hopefully we will be home soon.

I ask Mr Blair to take British troops out of Iraq and leave the Iraqi people to come to their own decisions on their government.

As a representative of Christian Peace Maker Teams we feel that continued British and American occupation is not in the best interest of the Iraqi people.

The peace activists seem much more reluctant than Giuliana Sgrena to pour out their emotions.

We will be following this hostage crisis carefully.

Developing.......

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:16 AM | Comments |

December 02, 2005

New Video: Peace Activists Threatened With Death

UPDATE: We have the video. Links and transcript here.

UPDATE: Confirmed by MSM sources. We are working on obtaining the raw video.

According to Matt Drudge, Al Jazeera has broadcast a video which purportedly threatens the life of four Western peace activists in Iraq. The names of the four activists are American Thomas Fox--who is also a blogger, Canadians Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney, and British citizen Norman Kember. The Jawa Report was the first media outlet to reveal the names of the hostages.

Because of the many similarities between the kidnapping of anti-American journalist Guliana Sgrena, it has been widely speculated that the terror organization never planned to kill the hostages, but are using the four peace activists as tools to drum up antiwar sentiment. However, because the orignial hostage video was first released on a website (contrary to media reports that al Jazeera first released the video) that belonged to a known terrorist organization the threat may very well be real.

The Jawa Report will post images and links to the video as soon as they are available.

UPDATE: Ian at the Political Teen has the al Jazeera video and has it posted here as does Bareknucklepolitics. Both are of a CTV report, and the latter has audio. We are still working on getting the original video before it went through the al Jazeera editing process.

Breitbart:

Al-Jazeera television broadcast a videotape Friday in which kidnappers of four Christian peace activists threatened to kill their hostages unless all prisoners in U.S. and Iraqi detention centers are released. The kidnappers gave the two governments until Dec. 8 to meet their demands, Al-Jazeera quoted a statement delivered with the tape as saying....

All four appeared frightened.

The Canadians were shown eating from plates of what appeared to be Arabic sweets. In a second clip, the British and American hostages were shown to talking to the camera but no audio was transmitted.

The two were calling on the U.S. and British governments to withdraw from Iraq, Al-Jazeera reported, quoting a statement from the kidnappers, who earlier identified themselves as the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.

Yes, very much like the Sgrena video indeed.

Developing....

More links at Pajama Media and in trackbacks below.

Please send tips to mypetjawa-at-gmail-dot-com and feel free to drop links to related stories in comments section.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:53 PM | Comments |

December 01, 2005

Peace Activists Kidnapped in Same Mosque as Giuliana Sgrena

When we first noticed the eary similarities between the Giuliana Sgrena kidnapping and the kidnapping of the four Western peace activists in Iraq, we had no idea just how uncanny the two situations would become. It turns out that American Thomas Fox, Canadians Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney, and British citizen Norman Kember were kidnapped in the exact same spot as Giuliana Sgrena.

Up to this point we have refrained from speculating that this hostage crisis could have been staged by the terror organization so that they could later release the hostages in a show of 'goodwill'. Our many readers and fellow bloggers have not been so restrained. However, in light of this new information...well, consider it a thought in the back of our collective heads which we just can't help thinking. In no way would this have to mean that the hostages were in on the hoax, only that the threat against their lives might not be real--especially if they were known by the terrorists to sympathize with their cause.

Why would terrorists do this? Well, look what happened during the Giuliana Sgrena crisis. Sgrena, who's sympathies were with the terrorists anyway, was more than happy to cry on cue and demand that Italy withdraw immediately from Iraq. The reaction from the Italian Left was overwhelming and the pressure mounted on the Burlesconi government to leave. Terrorists are not stupid. They choose tactics that they believe work. If it seemed to work once.....

If this is the case, then it is good news for the hostages as their eventual release is almost gauranteed. For the sake of the hostages, we hope this is so.

Guardian (hat tip Alicia):

Four Christian peace activists held hostage in Iraq were kidnapped at the same place where an Italian journalist was abducted, raising the possibility one group carried out both attacks, police said Thursday.

The style of the abduction also was similar: The activists were seized Saturday in the vicinity of a mosque near Baghdad University. A car blocked their car, gunmen got out, threw the driver and translator out and drove away with the four captives, security officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media....

While in captivity, Sgrena also appeared in a video. She begged for her life and warned foreigners to leave the country.

Iraqi police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said Thursday that the activists were kidnapped in the same place as Sgrena, whose release on March 4 touched off a tragic friendly fire incident that strained relations between Italy and the United States.

Of course, the major hitch in this theory is that I first found the hostage video after a friend of mine pointed out that it was posted on a terrorist website.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 07:29 PM | Comments |

Blogger Held Hostage in Iraq

The American hostage in Iraq, Thomas Fox, who's name was first revealed on The Jawa Report on Nov. 29th, is also a blogger.

His blog, Waiting in the Light, was last updated on November 9th. In his last entry, Tom Fox, now held by Sunni insurgents with links to those who fought the U.S. in Fallujah, decries the U.S. led assault on that city. Despite the fact that Fallujah was run by a form of strict Islamic law before the U.S. liberated that city--in which civilians were murdered for appearing too 'Western'-- Fox's entry decries the U.S. occupation with no words of criticism of the 'resistance' that fought his fellow countrymen.

Further, Fox seems to believe a Muslim cleric's version of the Fallujah narrative over those of the Marines and soldiers that liberated that city. Perhaps Fox was unaware that the cleric was possibly a member of the Shura council which ran Fallujah and which meted out death sentences to prostitutes, collaborated and gave refuge to al Qaeda linked terrorists (possibly some of the same terrorists holding Fox hostage now), and which saw even the possession of Western media a sign of apostasy?

It is tragic irony that those now holding Fox hostage are those that he found difficult to criticize, and that the U.S. Marines and soldiers which he found so easy to fault are his best bet on surviving his ordeal alive.

His entries are a mix of personal reflection and first-hand reporting from Iraq. His blog also reveals that Fox was a truly committed pacifist, willing to die rather than do violence to others. There is much to be admired in a man willing to die for his beliefs.

However, it remains unclear why it is that Western pacifists seem so eager to take on the U.S. and Israel and so willing to overlook the violence and aggression of Jihadis and Palestinians? If all violence is equally bad, then why the focus on Western violence and not on those who are the enemy of the West?

Unless of course the pacifist really doesn't believe his tactics would work in totalitarian states or among violent religious fanatics? Which, I think, is quite revealing.

Regardless of his naivite and poor judgement, we pray for his and the other hostages release and that those responsible will meet a swift and deadly justice. Fox is an innocent and a victim, and those who are holding him captive are guilty and aggressors. At The Jawa Report, we will not equivocate between the two and hold that the value of the life of an innocent is greater than the value of the life of those guilty of hostage taking.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 06:19 PM | Comments |

Blogger Held Hostage in Iraq

The American hostage in Iraq, Thomas Fox, who's name was first revealed on The Jawa Report on Nov. 29th, is also a blogger.

His blog, Waiting in the Light, was last updated on November 9th. In his last entry, Tom Fox, now held by Sunni insurgents with links to those who fought the U.S. in Fallujah, decries the U.S. led assault on that city. Despite the fact that Fallujah was run by a form of strict Islamic law before the U.S. liberated that city--in which civilians were murdered for appearing too 'Western'-- Fox's entry decries the U.S. occupation with no words of criticism of the 'resistance' that fought his fellow countrymen.

Further, Fox seems to believe a Muslim cleric's version of the Fallujah narrative over those of the Marines and soldiers that liberated that city. Perhaps Fox was unaware that the cleric was possibly a member of the Shura council which ran Fallujah and which meted out death sentences to prostitutes, collaborated and gave refuge to al Qaeda linked terrorists (possibly some of the same terrorists holding Fox hostage now), and which saw even the possession of Western media a sign of apostasy?

It is tragic irony that those now holding Fox hostage are those that he found difficult to criticize, and that the U.S. Marines and soldiers which he found so easy to fault are his best bet on surviving his ordeal alive.

His entries are a mix of personal reflection and first-hand reporting from Iraq. His blog also reveals that Fox was a truly committed pacifist, willing to die rather than do violence to others. There is much to be admired in a man willing to die for his beliefs.

However, it remains unclear why it is that Western pacifists seem so eager to take on the U.S. and Israel and so willing to overlook the violence and aggression of Jihadis and Palestinians? If all violence is equally bad, then why the focus on Western violence and not on those who are the enemy of the West?

Unless of course the pacifist really doesn't believe his tactics would work in totalitarian states or among violent religious fanatics? Which, I think, is quite revealing.

Regardless of his naivite and poor judgement, we pray for his and the other hostages release and that those responsible will meet a swift and deadly justice. Fox is an innocent and a victim, and those who are holding him captive are guilty and aggressors. At The Jawa Report, we will not equivocate between the two and hold that the value of the life of an innocent is greater than the value of the life of those guilty of hostage taking.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 04:25 PM | Comments |

November 30, 2005

Islamic Site: Pentagon Behind Western Kidnappings

The 'news' site uruknet blames the CIA:

One look at the CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams) in Iraq website and it becomes obvious who abducted Kember and his associates and why....No doubt all of this Christian activity sincerely upsets the Pentagon and the Bushcons.
Uruknet conveniently leaves out the fact that the video WAS NOT first released on al Jazeera as has been reported in the MSM. Rather, the video was released on a well known terrorist website linked to the Islamic Army in Iraq.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:40 AM | Comments |

November 29, 2005

The Plot Sickens Even More

Now this is fascinating. From the CPT History/Mission page:

Iraq – a Baghdad-based presence since October 2002. Team members accompanied the Iraqi people through the U.S.-led 2003 war and continue during the post-war occupation to expose abusive acts by U.S. Armed Forces and support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance.

This organization went into Iraq while Saddam Hussein was still in power.

Yet, I still hope for the hostages safe release.

UPDATE: Geez, 18 comments on this post and no one noticed that I spelled "history" as "hisory." With friends like you, who needs enemas?

By Vinnie at 06:36 PM | Comments |

'Peace' Group Blames U.S. for Terrorist Kidnappings

The 'Christian Peacemaker Teams' organization has confirmed the identities of four Westerners kidnapped in Iraq after The Jawa Report first revealed their names earlier today. In addition, the group blamed the U.S. and U.K. governments for the terrorist abductions of their team members. Like many Left wing 'peace' activists, the group decided to condemn the unintended consequences of the U.S. invasion while overlooking the very intentional acts of violence against civilians by terrorists.

Sources tell The Jawa Report that the "The Swords of Righteousness Brigade" may be an offshoot of The Islamic Army in Iraq. The announcement and video were posted on that group's website earlier today. The Islamic Army in Iraq has murdered foreign hostages in the past, including Italian Red Cross worker Enzo Baldoni, and has worked with Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq in the past. The group routinely murders those suspected of being 'collaborators', 'apostates', and 'spies'.

This is bad news for the hostages if confirmed. If the mesage from the Christian Peacemaker Teams is meant to garner sympathy from the Salafist terror organization, then they are barking up the wrong tree. The only hope for the four Westerners is if the U.S., British, or Iraqi armies find them and liberate them--as they did former hostage Roy Hallums. Ironic, since these are the very people who are risking their lives yet who are blamed by the pacifist organization for the plight of their representatives.

Despite the misguided efforts of the pacifist organization, these four activists are victims of Islamist aggression. We condemn the hostage takers and pray for the immediate release. And, unlike the 'Christian Peacemaker Teams', we hope that the terrorists die at the hands of an angry Marine.

Their press release is below:

"Update on Missing Persons in Iraq"

We were very saddened to see the images of our loved ones on Al Jazeera television recently. We were disturbed by seeing the video and believe that repeated showing of it will endanger the lives of our friends. We are deeply disturbed by their abduction. We pray that those who hold them will be merciful and that they will be released soon. We want so much to see their faces in our home again, and we want them to know how much we love them, how much we miss them, and how anxious and concerned we are by what is happening to them.

We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the U.S. government. We were the first people to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi people at the hands of U.S. forces, long before the western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib. We are some of the few internationals left in Iraq who are telling the truth about what is happening to the Iraqi people We hope that we can continue to do this work and we pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates.

We can confirm the identities of those who are being held as follows:

Tom Fox, age 54, is from Clearbrook, Virginia and is a dedicated father of two children. For the past two years, Mr. Fox has worked with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to promote peace. Mr. Fox has been faithful in the observance of Quaker practice for 22 years. While in Iraq, he sought a more complete understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S. policies and practices.

Mr. Fox is an accomplished musician. He plays the bass clarinet and the recorder and he loves to cook. He has also worked as a professional grocer. Mr. Fox devotes much of his time to working with children. He has served as an adult leader of youth programs and worked at a Quaker camp for youth. He has facilitated young people's participation in opposing war and violence. Mr. Fox is a quiet and peaceful man, respectful of everyone, who believes that "there is that of God in every person" which is why work for peace is so important to him.


Norman Kember, age 74, is from London, England.He and his wife of 45 years have two married daughters and a 3-year old grandson. He has been a pacifist all his life beginning with his work in a hospital instead of National Service at age 18. Before his retirement he was a professor teaching medical students at St Bartholemew's Hospital in London. He is well-known as a peace activist, and has been involved in several peace groups. For the past 10 years he has volunteered with a local program providing free food to the homeless. He likes walking, birdwatching, and writing humorous songs and sketches. In his younger days he enjoyed mountaineering.


James Loney, 41, is a community worker from Toronto, Canada. He has been a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams since August 2000, and is currently the Program Coordinator for CPT Canada. On previous visits to Iraq, his work focused on taking testimonies from families of detainees for CPT's report on detainee abuse, and making recommendations for securing basic legal rights. James was leading the November 2005 delegation in Iraq when he went missing.

James is a peace activist, writer, trained mediator, and works actively with two Toronto community conflict resolution services. He has spent many years working to provide housing and support for homeless people.

In a personal statement from James to CPT, he writes: "I believe that our actions as a people of peace must be an expression of hope for everyone. My hope in practising non-violence is that I can be a conduit for the transformative power of God's love acting upon me as much as I hope it will act upon others around me."


Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 is a Canadian electrical engineer. He is studying for a masters degree in English literature in Auckland University in New Zealand to prepare for a teaching career. He enjoys art, is active in squash and worked part time as a local squash coach. His family describes him as peaceful and fun-loving and he is known to be passionate about the plight of the underprivileged around the globe. He works tirelessly in his spare time to educate and help others.

God speed to these and all other hostages still being held and who have been forgotten by the world in Iraq.

More on the forgotten plight of hostages in Iraq here.

Update: Ex-wife of former hostage Roy Hallums chimes in:

I was deeply saddened to hear that more hostages were taken. These men were good Christian men trying to help promote peace in Iraq. I will pray for their safe release and for their families. There is such devastation to the families , I know this horror... I pray for them , I wish I could help in some way.

-Susan Hallums

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 05:57 PM | Comments |

The Plot Sickens

The Christian Peacemaker Teams organization to which the 4 hostages belong just recently suspended their Adopt-a-Detainee program.

You read that right. Adopt-a-Detainee:

After a year and a half of coordinated advocacy for Iraqis detained by U.S. and other occupying forces, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is ending its Adopt-a-Detainee Letter-Writing Campaign. CPT's Iraq project will, however, continue to monitor the situation of Iraqis captured by the Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF) and by the new Iraqi Forces.


The Adopt-a-Detainee Letter-Writing Campaign, beginning in March 2004, matched individual detainees with congregations, mosques, synagogues, and peace groups in North America and around the world. These groups wrote letters to U.S., Iraqi and other relevant officials on the detainees' behalf. The campaign grew out of CPT's investigation of and reporting on abuses within the U.S.-run detention system in Iraq during the fall of 2003. The Adopt-a-Detainee Letter-Writing Campaign included a total of twenty-seven detainees, nine of whom U.S. officials released during the campaign, ten of whom were still detained at last word, and seven of whom U.S. officials never confirmed as detained (i.e., the "disappeared.")

They're still running the Campaign For Secure Dwellings though:

Since 1995 the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron has provided a violence-reduction presence with street patrols, responding when we hear word of trouble, and staying with people in tense times and places. The team also supports Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers in their work. It is clear to us that there can be no security for Israelis or Palestinians as long as the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continues.

Hm, guess no one bothered to tell them about the Gaza withdrawal earlier this year.

I still hope the hostages are released unharmed.

By Vinnie at 05:54 PM | Comments |

(Updated) Hostage Video Released, Hostages Identified (Images/Video)


**Jawa Report Exclusive**

***The Jawa Report releases names of four Western hostages.***

A hostage video has been released of the four Western peace activists taken hostage in Iraq. The Jawa Report has obtained a copy of the video. Images from the video and links to video posted below. The video shows American Thomas Fox of Clear Brook Virginia, Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden, who resides in Auckland, New Zealand, British citizen Norman Kember, and some one who appears to identify himself as James Loney(spelling confirmed) of Canada.

Previously only Norman Kember had been identified. The Christian Peacemaker Teams organization has confirmed to The Jawa Report in an e-mail that the four hostages were working for that group.

The copy of the video I have makes no ransom demands, although a voice can be heard directing the hostages in the background. UPDATE: Ian at the Political Teen is hosting a segment of the video here.

Here is a transcript of the video:

My name is Norman Kember. I am 74. I am a member of the Christian Peacemaking team in Iraq.

My name is Harmeet Sooden. I am 32 and I am working..I'm a volunteer for the CPT in Iraq.

My name is James Loney. I am 41 years old. I am from Canada and I am part of the Christian Peacemaker team in Iraq.

My name is Tom Fox and I am 54 years old. I am from the United States and I am a member of the Christian Peacmakers team in Iraq.

Hat tip: Doubletap who e-mailed me the video.

Here is a rough translation of the statement accompanying the video--again, thanks to Doubletap:

foreign arrest of four spy

Praise be to God god of the scientists and the prayer and the faithful peace on the prophet, and on his family and accompanied him ['ajme'yn]

As for after. Losing managed your brothers in secrecy of swords the truth from arrest of four spy is foreign forces of the occupation under cover do for what Christian team the peace rises in, [wllh] the praising god of the scientists.

Secrecy swords of the truth

Swords of Righteousness Brigade is how some MSM outlets are translating the announcement. The group accused the four peace activists of "masqerading" as peace activists and of really being spies. Update: My sources indicate that "The Swords of Righteousness Brigade" may be an offshoot of The Islamic Army in Iraq. The announcement and video were posted on that group's website earlier today. The Islamic Army in Iraq has murdered foreign hostages in the past, including Italian Red Cross worker Enzo Baldoni, and has worked with Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq in the past. This is bad news for the hostages if confirmed.

The original announcement in Arabic can be downloaded here if some one would like to offer a better translation.

UPDATE: Flip from Suitably Flip has a different machine translation here which is a little clearer.

UPDATE II: Shawn of Bareknucklepolitics points us to these dispatches from Iraq written by hostage Thomas Fox who wonders if Americans are inheritly racists and have colonialist attitudes. We pity people like Tom who have such low regard for the men who will now risk their lives to save his.

UPDATE: Jawa Report revelations force CPT to confirm identities of hostages.

We can confirm the identities of those who are being held as follows:

Tom Fox, age 54, is from Clearbrook, Virginia and is a dedicated father of two children. For the past two years, Mr. Fox has worked with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to promote peace. Mr. Fox has been faithful in the observance of Quaker practice for 22 years. While in Iraq, he sought a more complete understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S. policies and practices.

Mr. Fox is an accomplished musician. He plays the bass clarinet and the recorder and he loves to cook. He has also worked as a professional grocer. Mr. Fox devotes much of his time to working with children. He has served as an adult leader of youth programs and worked at a Quaker camp for youth. He has facilitated young people's participation in opposing war and violence. Mr. Fox is a quiet and peaceful man, respectful of everyone, who believes that "there is that of God in every person" which is why work for peace is so important to him.


Norman Kember, age 74, is from London, England.He and his wife of 45 years have two married daughters and a 3-year old grandson. He has been a pacifist all his life beginning with his work in a hospital instead of National Service at age 18. Before his retirement he was a professor teaching medical students at St Bartholemew's Hospital in London. He is well-known as a peace activist, and has been involved in several peace groups. For the past 10 years he has volunteered with a local program providing free food to the homeless. He likes walking, birdwatching, and writing humorous songs and sketches. In his younger days he enjoyed mountaineering.


James Loney, 41, is a community worker from Toronto, Canada. He has been a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams since August 2000, and is currently the Program Coordinator for CPT Canada. On previous visits to Iraq, his work focused on taking testimonies from families of detainees for CPT's report on detainee abuse, and making recommendations for securing basic legal rights. James was leading the November 2005 delegation in Iraq when he went missing.

James is a peace activist, writer, trained mediator, and works actively with two Toronto community conflict resolution services. He has spent many years working to provide housing and support for homeless people.

In a personal statement from James to CPT, he writes: "I believe that our actions as a people of peace must be an expression of hope for everyone. My hope in practising non-violence is that I can be a conduit for the transformative power of God's love acting upon me as much as I hope it will act upon others around me."


Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 is a Canadian electrical engineer. He is studying for a masters degree in English literature in Auckland University in New Zealand to prepare for a teaching career. He enjoys art, is active in squash and worked part time as a local squash coach. His family describes him as peaceful and fun-loving and he is known to be passionate about the plight of the underprivileged around the globe. He works tirelessly in his spare time to educate and help others.

Update: Ex-wife of former hostage Roy Hallums chimes in:
I was deeply saddened to hear that more hostages were taken. These men were good Christian men trying to help promote peace in Iraq. I will pray for their safe release and for their families. There is such devastation to the families , I know this horror... I pray for them , I wish I could help in some way.

-Susan Hallums

Developing.....

Images below.

Image of Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden--also a resident of New Zealand-- from the hostage video.

christian_peacemakers_hostage_video_Harmeet_1.jpg

Image of James Loney, also of Canada.

christian_peacemakers_hostage_video_James_1.jpg


Image of Thomas Fox, an American from Virginia, from the hostage video.

christian_peacemakers_hostage_video_Tom_FOX_1.jpg

Image of Briton Norman Kember from the hostage video.

christian_peacemakers_hostage_video_norman_kember_2.jpg

Video has been uploaded here by Doubletap.

Background in the Norman Kember archives.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:14 AM | Comments |

Brit, American, & Canadian Hostages Worked for anti-war Christian Peace Organization

norman_kember_hostage_iraq.jpgUPDATE: Jawa Report Exclusive--names of hostages released. Names, images, and video of the hostages here.


The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) organization has confirmed to The Jawa Report in an e-mail that Norman Kember, an unidentified Canadian, and two unidentified Americans were abducted from that group's Iraq peace delegation.

The Christian pacifist organization declined to name the three other hostages at this time.

In a seperate statement released today by the organization, the CPT said:

CPT has been present in Iraq since October, 2002. The Team's work has focused on documenting and focusing public attention on detainee abuses and connecting citizens of Iraq to local and international human rights organizations. Iraqi friends and human rights workers have welcomed the Team as a non-violent, independent presence and asked that the Team tell the stories of Iraqis.

In a "Statement of Conviction," the long-term Team members stated that they "are aware of the many risks both Iraqis and internationals currently face," and affirmed that the risks did not outweigh their purpose in remaining. They express the hope that "in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening non-violently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation."

CPT does not advocate the use of violent force to save our lives should we be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a conflict situation.

So, the CPT would stand on principle and allow their representatives in Iraq to die rather than risk the lives of the terrorists that took them in a rescue operation? A perverse sense of Christian morality in my book.

Advice to CPT from a long-time hostage activist: trying to convince the hostage takers that you are on their side may work, depending on what type of group abducted your representatives. Arab nationalist, non-Salaafist jihadis, and Shia jihad groups may be convinced using this method but only if a simultaneous public campaign from clerics is undertaken. To do this you must release the names of the other victims.

Of course, if this was simply a criminal act then the above should be undertaken in addition to ransom negotiations. Many criminals who engage in hostage taking of Westerners do so with the justification (backed by certain Islamic traditions) that the ransoming of infidels is permitted. Shame from influential clerics can go along way in convincing criminals to release hostages.

However, if it was Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna, or any related Salaafist jihad organization then this will have no effect. The only hope would be a rescue. Fortunately if the hostages are located a rescue will be attempted, even over the objections of CPT.

UPDATE: Via Captain Ed, we learn that Norman Kember was a family friend of blogger Hammerswing. As mentioned in our earlier post, we join Hammerswing with our prayers for Kember, even if we think he was a misguided idealist.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 09:04 AM | Comments |

November 28, 2005

The Fruits of Anti-American Peace Activism: Kidnapping and Hostage Taking

norman_kember.jpgBackground on the hostage taking here.

What do Giuliana Sgrena and abducted 'humanitarian' worker Norman Kember (pictured right at a Hiroshima memorial) have in common?

Both went to Iraq to promote "peace".

Both decided to work for "peace" by documenting allegations of prisoner abuse and mass-murder by American forces in Fallujah.

Both thought it would be a good idea to meet with 'victims' of America and that their sympathies with the 'resistance' would make them immune.

Both ended up being taken hostage by the 'resistance'.

Our deepest sympathies are with Norman Kember and the American and two Canadians taken hostage with him. But, wasn't it a little foolish to believe your own rhetoric? The U.S. military is in Iraq to help the Iraqis. If civilians are killed or innocents detained by the U.S., these are regretful mistakes. Errors made in the fog of war.

But when the so-called insurgents kill civilians and take hostages--only to murder them later by proclaiming them guilty of violating Islamic law--they do this on purpose.

It is the policy of the United States of America and Great Britain to avoid civilian casualties when possible. It is the policy of al Qaeda and other mujahidin forces in Iraq to kill civilians, on purpose, when such civilians are deemed too eager to help rebuild that country.

For the peace activists of the Left, there is no distinction between an American soldier and an al Qaeda in Iraq suicide-bomber.

That distinction should be clear now to Norman Kember and the other victims of jihadi fanaticism in Iraq.

We pray for their safe return.

Norman Kember archives here.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 06:36 PM | Comments |

Deep Thoughts By Jack Straw

Interesting quote of British Foreign Minister Jack Straw:

“We are working on the basis that it is indeed a kidnapping. But we have no further confirmation,” he said.

I never have, and never will be a conspiracy theorist, but this is interesting as well:

Pat Kember said that her husband was representing a number of different organisations when he was taken. Yesterday she was seen leaving the family home in North London escorted by police.

I figure there's a 99.9% chance that this is SOP.

But after reading Rusty and Bluto, I have to admit that something smells Vichy around here.

By Vinnie at 06:30 PM | Comments |

(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
-----------------------------

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 |

It Ain't Gonna Work This Time Either, Fellas

2 Canadians, 1 American, and 1 Brit taken hostage:

Nov 27, 2005 — BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Four Western aid workers, two believed to be from Canada, one from Britain and one from the United States, have been kidnapped in Iraq, the organization they were working for said on Sunday.

The only hostage identified positively is the Briton:

It is understood Professor Norman Kember was snatched in Baghdad along with two Canadians and an American. The Foreign Office is investigating.

Professor Kember, from north-west London, was said to be representing a number of humanitarian aid groups.

His wife Pat, at home in Pinner, said: "People are being very, very good to me and I'm being supported."

I'm sure we'll update this as the others are named. In any case, we wish their families the very best and pray for their safe return.

By Vinnie at 12:00 AM | Comments |