Archive for Wednesday, March 8, 2006

U.S. hostage not among 3 on tape

March 8, 2006


— The American among four Christian Peacemakers activists kidnapped last year in Iraq was absent from a videotape broadcast Tuesday of the exhausted-looking men purportedly appealing to their governments to secure their release.

Al-Jazeera television, which aired the footage, could not provide explain why Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., was not shown.

In Toronto, the co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Doug Pritchard, said he drew some comfort from seeing three of his colleagues on video again.

"The fact that they're still well after more than three months says that the kidnappers have been concerned for their well-being," Pritchard said. "The fact that there are no demands made or timelines set is also hopeful."

But Allan Slater, a Canadian member of the group, said he was disturbed not to see Fox.

"We certainly are hopeful when we see three of our friends alive, but also it's very distressing that we didn't see Tom Fox, and I wouldn't want to hide that because I'm sure it's very distressful for Tom's family and friends as well," Slater told The Canadian Press from Baghdad.

The hostages seen in the brief video dated Feb. 28 were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74.

The news anchor said the men asked their governments and Persian Gulf countries to work for their release. Al-Jazeera's policy is to silence the audio on hostage tapes for broadcast.

The tape showed the three men sitting in chairs and speaking. One had white hair and a slight beard; the two others had dark hair and full beards.

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 reportedly 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.


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