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Posted: 3/23/2006 8:28:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/23/2006 8:42:27 PM EDT by thompsondd]
U.S., U.K. Forces Rescue Christian Peacekeepers uh, I mean Hostages in Iraq



www.leadingthecharge.com/stories/news-00163598.html


U.S., U.K. Forces Rescue Hostages in Iraq
Staff and agencies
24 March, 2006

By BASSEM MROUE, 5 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Without firing a shot, U.S. and British forces stormed a house Thursday and freed three Christian peace activists who were bound but unguarded, ending a four-month hostage ordeal that saw an American in the group killed and dumped along a railroad track.

The military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, said the 8 a.m. rescue of the Briton and two Canadians from a "kidnapping cell" was based on information divulged by a man during interrogation only three hours earlier. The man was captured by U.S. forces on Wednesday night.

A senior Iraqi military officer told The Associated Press, however, that the operation had been under way for two days in the Abu Ghraib suburb west of Baghdad, site of the notorious prison. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position, said U.S. and British forces refused to give him other details.

But the joyful news was tempered by violence that raged throughout Iraq as the day wore on. Fifty-eight people were killed in execution-style slayings, bombings and gun battles. For the third straight day, Sunni insurgents hit a major police and jail facility — this time with a suicide car bombing that killed 25 in central Baghdad.

No kidnappers were present when the troops broke into the house where the peace activists were discovered with their hands tied.

The freed men were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and Briton Norman Kember, 74. The men — members of the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams — were kidnapped Nov. 26 along with an American colleague, Tom Fox, 54.

"We remember with tears Tom Fox," group co-director Doug Pritchard said in Toronto. "We had longed for the day when all four men would be released together. Our gladness today is bittersweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join his colleagues in the celebration."

British Embassy spokeswoman Lisa Glover said the men would be flown out of Baghdad in the next few days. She said Kember was in "reasonable condition" and spent the day "relaxing and talking to British authorities."

"He was very, very pleased to be free, but he was very emotional in talking to me. I think he must be very worried about me and the family," she told New Zealand‘s Radio Live in an interview replayed by the British Broadcasting Corp.

Loney‘s brother, Ed, told CBC television that his mother had spoken with James on the phone and that he sounded "fantastic" though "he‘s lost quite a bit of weight."

"He‘s alert and he was asking how we were doing and said he was sorry for the whole situation," Ed Loney said. "My mom said, ‘Don‘t worry about it — just get home and we‘ll talk about all that stuff when you get here.‘ "

He told CNN that he later spoke directly with his brother, who was "having a lovely chicken dinner with potatoes and a nice soup" and "told me about being rescued and seeing the light of day and smelling the outside air."

Ed Loney also said his brother told him he was well taken care of.

"He was always warm and always fed and things like that. He was more worried about boredom. ... I think that was probably the worst part of it, from what he said."

The Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteers have been in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations of abuse against Iraqi detainees by coalition forces. The group says its teams promote peaceful solutions in conflict zones.

Pritchard 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," he said.

The kidnapped men were shown as prisoners in several videos, the most recent a silent clip dated Feb. 28 in which Loney, Kember and Sooden appeared without Fox, whose body was found March 10.

The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

"As we study who could conduct these kinds of operations there seems to be a kidnapping cell that has been robust over the last several months in conducting these kind of kidnappings," Lynch said.

While many insurgent groups and the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist organization have kidnapped and often killed foreigners in Iraq, there also is a heavy criminal element involved in such crimes. Thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped for ransom and some Westerners are believed to have been grabbed by those criminal gangs as well.

Often, it is believed, kidnappers take hostages only for the purposes of selling them into captivity to larger, more organized criminal gangs or insurgent organizations.

The last hostage to be freed in a military operation was Douglas Wood, an Australian rescued in west Baghdad by U.S. and Iraqi forces on June 15, 2005, after 47 days in captivity.

Lynch said there was no new information on Carroll that "I can discuss at this time." But, he said: "There are other operations that continue probably as a result of what we‘re finding at this time. So you‘ve got to give us the opportunity to work through that."

Carroll has appeared in three videotapes delivered by her kidnappers to Arab television stations, and the deadline her captors set for killing her passed weeks ago without word about her fate.

"My expectation and hope is that the released hostages and the associated activities, in terms of information gathered, could help us bring about her release as well," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said in an interview with Fox News.

The Islamic Army in Iraq confirmed Thursday it had killed Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, claiming he was a spy. Baldoni had been reported killed on Aug. 26, 2004.

"He was a spy. We knew that from the first hour," Rami al-Shammari, a spokesman the insurgent group, told Al-Jazeera television in an interview.

Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:30:03 PM EDT
www.manchesteronline.co.uk/men/news/s/208/208788_kember_its_great_to_be_free.html


Kember: 'It's great to be free!'

NORMAN Kember said today that it was "great to be free" after more than four months in captivity.

In his first public statement since his release, he said: "It's great to be free. I am looking forward to getting back to the UK."

Mr Kember was speaking via an official at the British Embassy in Baghdad as preparations began for his return home.

His family showed their happiness at the news in a series of comments and statements.

Mr Kember's brother Ian was overcome with emotion at the news of the release.

Speaking from his home in Taunton, Somerset, Ian Kember said: "It's fresh news to me, I haven't got my thoughts together yet.

"It's a wonderful thing, and it's obviously a great relief, but beyond that I haven't come to terms with it yet.

"This has been the news we have been waiting for for a long time."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London released a statement on behalf of Mr Kember's family.

It read: "We are very pleased that Norman and his friends are safe.

'Support'

"We are grateful for all the support we have had from so many people since Norman was taken hostage.

"We also thank everyone who has worked so hard for him to be set free. We request that our privacy be respected at this time."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he had spoken to Mr Kember's wife Pat, of Pinner, north west London, several times.

Asked how Mrs Kember had reacted when he told her of her husband's release, Mr Straw said: "I think she was still trying to digest the news.

"I have had a number of conversations with her and my staff have kept in very close touch with her. She has shown the most extraordinary fortitude throughout this."

He added that Mrs Kember has shown "the most wonderful Christian fortitude" and that he was "so pleased" she would be reunited with him.

Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:34:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:44:02 PM EDT
No kidnappers there. It sounds like either they knew we were coming at the last minute and just left or they were allowed to be found.

Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:48:32 PM EDT
Notice how the words used are "freed" and "set free" as if they were let go?

I figure the operative term would be "rescued", but that would make the soldiers out t be good guys, and we can't have that now, can we?
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:14:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PromptCritical:
Notice how the words used are "freed" and "set free" as if they were let go?

I figure the operative term would be "rescued", but that would make the soldiers out t be good guys, and we can't have that now, can we?



I was noticing that too.... but not only that, after they say the hostages were freed, they go on to tell about how there were bombings/killings/executions/murder in the rest of Iraq as if the rescue is insignifigant to the "chaos" that is goin on in the rest of the country. Its just sad that some people cant bring themselves to admit that the U.S. Military actually does things that are good over there.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:44:33 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Desert_Cowboy:

Originally Posted By PromptCritical:
Notice how the words used are "freed" and "set free" as if they were let go?

I figure the operative term would be "rescued", but that would make the soldiers out t be good guys, and we can't have that now, can we?



I was noticing that too.... but not only that, after they say the hostages were freed, they go on to tell about how there were bombings/killings/executions/murder in the rest of Iraq as if the rescue is insignifigant to the "chaos" that is goin on in the rest of the country. Its just sad that some people cant bring themselves to admit that the U.S. Military actually does things that are good over there.



The DOD version is a little better:

www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2006/20060323_4582.html


Coalition Operation Frees Hostages Held Since November
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2006 – Coalition forces rescued three hostages held by terrorists in Iraq since November in an early morning raid today, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said.

"Based on intelligence that we recovered over the last 36 hours, an operation was planned and conducted, and those three hostages were rescued," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said during a briefing from Baghdad. "I'm happy to report all three are in good condition."

The hostages, Christian peace activists, have undergone medical screening and are anxious to be reunited with their families, Lynch said. A fourth hostage, and the only American in the group, Tom Fox, was found dead about two weeks ago.

The kidnappers were not present during the rescue that took place west of Baghdad, Lynch added.

Despite Fox's killing and a car bomb that exploded in Baghdad today, the perception of an Iraq rife with violence is not accurate, Lynch said. "The idea that Baghdad is the center of gravity for the enemy's operations (is) indeed a valid idea," he said. "But the concern that all of Iraq is experiencing widespread violence is incorrect."

Fifteen Iraq provinces average fewer than six attacks a day, and 12 of those provinces see fewer than two attacks a day, he said. The other three provinces, Baghdad, Anbar and Salah Ad Din bear the brunt of the attacks, Lynch said.

Though those three provinces account for 75 percent of all attacks in Iraq, incidents in Baghdad between March 11 and 17 were down 10 percent, the general told reporters. Car bombings also decreased 50 percent during that period, to eight from 17 the previous week, Lynch said.

The enemy, however, continues to try to derail democracy and discredit the Iraqi government, he said. Insurgents couldn't stop elections or the drafting and ratification of the new constitution, Lynch said, so enemy fighters have refocused their efforts on inflaming sectarian violence.

Iraqi civilians are increasingly targets of this violence, accounting for 65 percent of casualties across the country, he said. "There is, indeed, a spike in what we term 'ethno-sectarian' incidences," he said. "During this reporting period (of) 12 to 19 March, we found across Iraq about 100 events that we would label as an ethno-sectarian incident."

Lynch described "ethno-sectarian" events as attempts to inflame sectarian violence. These acts have been aimed at all sectors of the Iraqi population -- Shiite, Sunni and Kurd -- he said.

Eighty-two incidents between March 12 and 19 are suspected of being ethno-sectarian in nature, Lynch said. In 58 incidents, individuals clearly were executed, he added.

"The enemy's still out there," Lynch said. "We're in a specifically vulnerable period right now as the national unity government forms and (the enemy) continues to conduct operations and inflame sectarian violence and drive a wedge between the Iraqi population."

A joint effort between Iraqi security and coalition forces is under way to ensure the enemy doesn't succeed, he said. Operation Scales of Justice is designed to counter the enemy's attempts to create a sectarian divide inside Baghdad, he said.

The operation, started on March 12, brought in a total of 3,700 additional security forces, including a coalition battalion from Kuwait, Lynch said. This increase allows for 300 patrols -- 100 more than before -- in the city. Iraqi and coalition forces also are manning about 130 checkpoints, he said. The operation's goal is to keep car bombs and suicide attacks from occurring in the city.

That goal was achieved for the past five days, during which there were no attacks using those methods, he said. The reprieve was short-lived, however, as today's Baghdad car-bomb attack indicates, Lynch said.

Another ongoing joint operation in Baghdad, Northern Lights, began March 21. It has resulted in the discovery of eight weapons caches and the detention of 18 suspects, including one considered a high-value target, Lynch said.

Operation Swarmer, an Iraqi-led operation, began a week ago in Salah Ad Din province and has resulted in the detention of 95 suspected terrorists and the discovery of 24 weapons caches, he added.

"What I continue to be amazed with is the number of operations, company level and above, that are planned and executed by the Iraqi security forces," Lynch said. "We're at a point now where a third of the operations during (March 11 to 17) were independent Iraqi security force operations."

Between March 11 and 17, 512 operations were conducted across Iraq, he added. The Iraqi forces that participated in Swarmer are a small portion of the 241,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security forces working operations across the country, Lynch said.

Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:50:45 PM EDT
Just another opportunity to push the terrorist sympathizer propaganda...


Statement By Christian Peacemaker Teams:

“Our hearts are filled with joy today as we heard that Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember have been safely released in Baghdad. Christian Peacemaker Teams rejoices with their families and friends at the expectation of their return to their loved ones and community.

"Together we have endured uncertainty, hope, fear, grief and now joy during the four months since they were abducted in Baghdad.

“We rejoice in the return of Harmeet Sooden. He has been willing to put his life on the line to promote justice in Iraq and Palestine as a young man newly committed to active peacemaking.

“We rejoice in the return of Jim Loney. He has cared for the marginalized and oppressed since childhood, and his gentle, passionate spirit has been an inspiration to people near and far.

“We rejoice in the return of Norman Kember. He is a faithful man, an elder and mentor to many in his 50 years of peacemaking, a man prepared to pay the cost.

“We remember with tears Tom Fox, whose body was found in Baghdad on March 9, 2006, after three months of captivity with his fellow peacemakers. We had longed for the day when all four men would be released together.

"Our gladness today is made bittersweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join in the celebration. However, we are confident that his spirit is very much present in each reunion.

“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?

“With Tom’s death, we felt the grief of losing a beloved friend. Today, we rejoice in the release of our friends Harmeet, Jim and Norman. We continue to pray for a swift and joyful homecoming for the many Iraqis and internationals who long to be reunited with their families.

"We renew our commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq as a way to continue the witness of Tom Fox. We trust in God’s compassionate love to show us the way.

“Living through the many emotions of this day, we remain committed to the words of Jim Loney, who wrote:

"With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies. With the love of Christ, we will resist all evil. With God’s unending faithfulness, we will work to build the beloved community."

Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:52:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Desert_Cowboy:

Originally Posted By PromptCritical:
Notice how the words used are "freed" and "set free" as if they were let go?

I figure the operative term would be "rescued", but that would make the soldiers out t be good guys, and we can't have that now, can we?



I was noticing that too.... but not only that, after they say the hostages were freed, they go on to tell about how there were bombings/killings/executions/murder in the rest of Iraq as if the rescue is insignifigant to the "chaos" that is goin on in the rest of the country. Its just sad that some people cant bring themselves to admit that the U.S. Military actually does things that are good over there.



thinking the exact same things as you guys...
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