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Terrorists Still Threatening Peacenik Hostages

No kidding. They really mean it this time.

From the terrorist cheerleaders at the Associated Press:

Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Four Activists

By SAMEER N. YACOUB
Jan 28, 1:49 PM EST

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Kidnappers threatened in a new videotape broadcast Saturday to kill four Christian peace activists unless all Iraqi prisoners were released, saying they were giving the U.S. and Iraqi governments a "last chance" to save the hostages.

The tape dated Jan. 21 and broadcast on Al-Jazeera showed the four men – two Canadians, an American and a Briton – standing near a wall, before cutting away to another shot in which they were seated and talking, but their voices were not heard.

The newsreader said the group issued a statement with the tape saying it was the "last chance" for U.S. and Iraqi authorities to "release all Iraqi prisoners in return of freeing the hostages otherwise their fate will be death." No deadline was set.

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

Also Saturday, a Sunni Arab leader condemned recent police crackdowns on Sunni neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital and demanded government protection from further raids – a day after police and insurgents fought pitched battles in southern Baghdad with about 60 people detained and three killed, apparently by insurgents.

At least nine people, including a prominent professor, were killed Saturday in other violence across Iraq.

Khalaf Al-Ilyan, a senior member of the Sunni Arab-coalition, the Iraqi Accordance Front, blamed the outgoing government of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, for launching attacks and not protecting members of his minority community.

"We condemn the treacherous and terrorist acts that have targeted and killed dozens of innocent people who were only guilty of rejecting the (U.S.-led) occupation," al-Ilyan said at a press conference. "Any government should defend its people, otherwise, why it should be called a government?"

Garwood reports the ordeal appears to be taking a toll on the hostages.

Sunni Arabs, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein but lost power after his ouster, are the driving force of the insurgency and the U.S. has been pushing to bring them into the political process to blunt the violence.

But many have accused Shiite-led security forces of torture and the indiscriminate detention of Sunnis, raising sectarian tensions.

Police Lt. Bilal Majeed said the bound and gagged bodies of two men in their 40s who had been shot in the head were found Saturday in southern Baghdad's Rustamiyah sewage plant, about three miles south of Baghdad.

Al-Ilyan said the Rustamiyah plant had "become the place where families go to search for the bodies of their sons killed by the government forces or militias."

Police also found the buried bodies of six laborers who had been bound, gagged and shot in the head 12 miles south of the southern city of Karbala, spokesman Rahman Mashawi said.

Meanwhile, a spate of shootings Saturday left at least four people dead in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, including an Iraqi Army soldier. A mechanic was gunned down in nearby Jihad, the scene of fierce fighting Friday.

University professor and political analyst Abdul-Razzaq al-Na'as, who often appeared on Arab TV talkshows to discuss Iraqi politics, also was shot to death in central Baghdad on Saturday, said police Lt. Nadum Nasser.

Gunmen in the northern city of Mosul killed a policeman 30 minutes before slaying another who had left the force, police said. A roadside bombing in the western city of Fallujah killed one policeman and wounded another Saturday.

Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., and Norman Kember, 74, of London, were seized Nov. 26 as they were working with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a Canadian-based organization that has investigated allegations of abuse against Iraqi prisoners.

Al-Jazeera editor Saad al-Dosari declined to say how the station obtained the tape, which was about 55 seconds long, all of which was aired.

"We're still very concerned but at least we have proof that they are alive," Loney's youngest brother, Matthew, said in a telephone interview from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Christian Peacemaker Teams, which has been working in Iraq since October 2002, released a statement saying it was encouraged to see the activists alive and calling on their kidnappers to release them unharmed.

The group blamed the continued U.S. and British military presence in Iraq for the abductions.

"Christian Peacemaker teams, all of us here, continue to be very disturbed by the abduction of our teammates," the statement said. "We pray that those who hold them will host them with the grace that so many of us in CPT have received as guests in Iraq."

The videotape, which could not be independently verified, was the third in which the four activists were shown being held captive, including another one that threatened their lives unless all prisoners were freed in Iraq by Dec. 10.

More than 250 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam, and at least 39 have been killed.

Among the hostages still unaccounted for is American reporter Jill Carroll, 28, who was abducted Jan. 7 in Baghdad. Her kidnappers have demanded the release of all Iraqi women in custody. The U.S. military said this week's release of five Iraqi women who had been in military custody was routine and not in response to the ultimatum.

U.S. Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers in western Iraq ended an almost two-week military operation on Friday that destroyed 45 weapons caches and detained 20 suspected insurgents, the Marines said in a statement.

Operation Wadi Aljundi started Jan. 15 north of the town of Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad. No U.S. or Iraqi casualties were sustained, according to the statement. Lt. Col. Drew Smith, a Marine commander, said Iraqi soldiers and coalition forces worked well together.

In another development, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Britain hopes to lower the number of troops it has in Iraq but only when the government is secure.

"We hope to do some of that during the course of this year," Straw said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, without specifying an exact date. Some 8,500 British troops are in Iraq.

You know what?

The group blamed the continued U.S. and British military presence in Iraq for the abductions.

To hell with them.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, January 28th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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