American and British troops have rescued the three remaining peace activists who were being held hostage in Iraq by captors calling themselves the "Swords of Righteousness Brigades." The freed hostages were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and Briton Norman Kember, 74.
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.
The New York Times has further details:
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.
Ironically, the three volunteers were been in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations of abuse against Iraqi detainees by coalition forces.
The teams found one documented case of serious abuse: Their own kidnapping and that of their fellow volunteer Tom Fox, who was tortured by the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade" before he was killed and his body thrown away in the streets.
A co-director of the Christian Peacemaker Teams" continues down a misguided and even outrageous path in his public pronouncements:
"They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers," Pritchard said.
Notably absent is an mention of thanks to the U.S. and British troops who saved the lives of these three hostages.
He also called for coalition forces to leave the country.
"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," Pritchard said.
Is that so? Or could the "root cause" as well as the "immediate" cause of the kidnapping and "so much pain and suffering" be Islamic terrorism itself?
Outrageously, even the full press release posted at the Christian Peacemaker Teams' website makes no mention of the U.S. and U.K. troops who saved the three hostages' lives (other than to refer to them generally as a supposedly "illegal" "occupying" force), and claims misleadingly that the hostages were "released" rather than using the more correct, and obvious term -- that the hostages were rescued. The press release contains not a word of thanks to the soldiers who saved the hostages' lives.
I discussed this group's double standard in condemning America while giving terrorists a pass in my earlier post on the killing of Tom Fox: American Hostage Tortured and Killed; Activists Can't Work Up Any Moral Outrage
So let's recap: Four members of the "Christian Peacemaker Teams" go to Iraq for the express purpose of gathering evidence of "abuse" by U.S. soldiers. They are warned of the dangers by U.S. authorities. They ignore the warnings. They then find the case of abuse that they were looking for: Their own. They are illegally kidnapped, detained, tortured, and in one case, killed -- not at the hands of U.S. troops, but at the hands of the terrorists. They are then rescued by U.S. and British troops.
The group says in its press release that that out of Christian faith it refuses to "yield to a spirit of vengeance." Fine, but how about any words of condemnation for the kidnappers? The group is quick to condemn U.S. troops and America. Twice in this very press release, it refers to the so-called "illegal" "occupation" of Iraq and so-called "illegal" detention of "thousands" of Iraqis.
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 hostage Tom Fox?
Apparently Christian forgiveness, as practiced by this group, is a one-way street that only works in favor of the greater evil.
I realize that hearts and minds don't change overnight, and it's embarrassing to admit that your entire worldview is possibly upside down, but this is too much.
It is not asking too much to expect the official press release of the Christian Peacemaker Teams to contain at least one word of thanks to the rescuers.
This group has now forfeited any last remaining shred of credibility it had. In addition to a severe lack of common sense, the group also lacks common human decency. It is in no position to give either practical or moral advice to anyone.
This group should be ignored, shunned, and boycotted until it begins to show a speck of common human decency and a nickel's worth of common sense.
Update 3/24/06: At the CPT press release web page, CPT has added an "addenda" dated March 23 at 9 p.m. which states in part "We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues." It's a little late and rather faint, but it's better than nothing at all. Time will tell whether the group can continue to maintain even this much decency and whether it has learned anything from this experience.
Further Update 3/24/06: If the pictures of a Chicago CPT celebration posted at Freedom Folks are any indication, CPT and its most ardent supporters have learned nothing so far.
For more commentary, see Blue Star Chronicles, Sister Toldjah, Stop the ACLU, The Jawa Report, Murdoc Online, Little Green Footballs, Hyscience, Michelle Malkin, Publius Rendezvous and Stuck on Stupid. Point Five comments amusingly on the media double standard.