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Terrorists Follow Up On Threat, Kill US Hostage

From Canada's Canoe News:

A member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams holds a sign for American Iraq hostage Tom Fox during a memorial in the West Bank town of Heborn, Saturday, March 11, 2006. The FBI verified that a body found in Iraq Friday March 10, 2006 was that of Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., spokesman Noel Clay said.

U.S. hostage killed in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CP) – An American who was among four Christian activists kidnapped last year in Iraq has been killed, a U.S. State Department spokesman said Friday.

The FBI verified a body found in Iraq on 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, who include James Loney, 41, of Toronto and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, formerly of Montreal.

Clay said he did not know how Fox was killed but added 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."

Mark Brewer, Sooden's brother-in-law, gave The Canadian Press the family's reaction to the news of Fox's death from his home in Auckland, N.Z.

"I guess in a word, shock. We're obviously very concerned and thoughtful towards his family today."

"They're the ones we really should be thinking of at this time,"

"Well, obviously we're more anxious," Brewer said about his brother-in-law.

"Especially considering the fact all four were together and appeared in the same video. We're just certainly hoping he gets to come home safely soon."

Christian Peacemaker Teams spokesman Robert Holmes said in Toronto the unwelcome news about Fox has left the group fearful.

"It certainly is scary," he said Friday evening.

"We have no idea what that means to the others, so right now we're working with the situation."

On Tuesday, Al-Jazeera television aired footage of the three other activists reported to be appealing to their governments to secure their release.

The hostages seen in the brief video dated Feb. 28 were Loney, Sooden and Briton Norman Kember, 74.

The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades claimed responsibility for kidnapping the four workers, who disappeared Nov. 26.

The four had not been heard from since a videotape aired by Al-Jazeera on Jan. 28, dated from a week before. A statement reported accompanying that tape said the hostages would be killed unless all Iraqi prisoners were released from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. No deadline was set.

Christian Peacemaker Teams had been working in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations U.S. and Iraqi forces abused Iraqi detainees. Its teams host human rights conferences in conflict zones, promoting peaceful solutions.

They currently have five people working in Iraq – plus the captives.

"They don't want to leave at this point at all and they're continuing as they are able to do the work that they are a part of and that Tom was a part of," Doug Pritchard Christian Peacemaker Teams Toronto co-director, said at a hastily called news conference held late Friday.

"There's certainly a hope that if indeed Tom Fox was targeted because of his American citizenship and the role of the U.S. in leading this war, that perhaps the others would be spared," Pritchard said.

"It's certainly an emotional roller coaster because they were alive and well in that videotape that we saw earlier this week and we hope and pray that they are still alive and well and will be released soon," he added.

In an e-mailed statement Friday, the Christian Peacemaker Teams said they extended "our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have travelled so closely in these days of crisis."

The statement said: "We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember."

"In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done.

"In Tom's own words: 'We reject violence to punish anyone."'

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay issued a statement in Ottawa saying: "We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Fox."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. We regret the death of this innocent person who was providing humanitarian support to the Iraqi people."

"We remain concerned for the lives of James Loney, Harmeet Singh Sooden and Norman Kember. We continue to be in touch with the families of the Canadians."

"The Canadian government remains willing to listen to and speak with persons who may have information that will assist in the safe release of the hostages."

"This guy was not after martyrdom by any means," said Paul Slattery of McLean, Va., who was a member of Fox's U.S.-based support team.

"He actually believed in his heart that he would better them by his conviction and his beliefs and his skills and I think largely succeeded.

"What he leaves behind is a tremendous challenge for the rest of us and a guiding force."

Slattery said Fox worked on three major projects: helping families of incarcerated Iraqis, escorting shipments of medicine to clinics and hospitals in Fallujah and helping form Islamic Peacemaker Teams.

(Our northern correpsondent DW provided a link to the tidings.)

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, March 11th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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