Friday, March 24, 2006

Remaining CPT hostages rescued

You've probably heard the news by now:  James Loney, Harmeet Sooden, and Norman Kember were rescued yesterday after being held hostage in Iraq for 118 days.

The rescue began when US forces detained two Iraqis and learned where the hostages were being held. The house, located in west Baghdad, was raided within hours. The hostages were bound but apparently healthy. Their captors were not present.

It goes without saying that Loney, Sooden, and Kember are lucky — or blessed — to be alive. A fellow hostage, American Tom Fox, was killed earlier this month.

On Friday, an early evening mass will be held in Sault. Ste. Marie, Ontario (where Mr. Loney's parents live), to mark the safe release of the other three hostages.

Two of the former hostages are Canadians. According to the Ottawa Citizen, Canadian soldiers played a role in the rescue:
[Canada's] Department of National Defence yesterday would not disclose any role in the successful mission, saying they don't comment on the secret affairs of [Joint Task Force 2], which is based in Ottawa.

But British and American military sources yesterday, however, made a point of crediting Canada's key role in the mission. Pentagon and British military officials said that Canadian and special forces took the reins of the ground operation.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that a high-level squad of diplomats, soldiers and intelligence officials from the three countries had been working closely together for "weeks and weeks," along with civilians and Iraqis in order to secure the hostages' release.
Britain runs a special intelligence network, the Black Task Force, aimed at tracking hostages in Iraq. The unit was created after the deaths of kidnap victims Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan last year.

Kudos all around, then:  to the USA for gathering the intelligence that made this rescue possible; to Britain for the work of the Black Task Force; and to Canada's JTF2 unit for taking a lead role in the ground operation.

In the comment section of an earlier post, a few of us speculated about what story the captives might tell after their release. They are about to become pawns in the great public relations battle precipitated by the Iraq war.

When they joined the Christian Peacemaker Teams mission, they believed that Iraqis are the good guys and Americans are the bad guys. Do they see things differently after they were held hostage by Iraqis and rescued by the Americans (among others)?

They are going to experience some pressure to say the "right" thing whenever they talk to Western media. But of course, the "right" thing depends a great deal on your vantage point.

8 Comments:

At 5:58 PM, March 24, 2006, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

When they joined the Christian Peacemaker Teams mission, they believed that Iraqis are the good guys and Americans are the bad guys. Do they see things differently after they were held hostage by Iraqis and rescued by the Americans (among others)?

Would this be a good example of irony?
I find that the outcome of this scenario is the exact opposite of what these people had expected going into it.

 
At 9:28 PM, March 24, 2006, Blogger Mary P. said...

Irony, indeed.

I'm so relieved for the happy ending. I hope the hostages are allowed to get on with the healing - physical, spiritual, and psychological - they probably badly need.

 
At 9:47 PM, March 24, 2006, Blogger 49erDweet said...

I can't help commenting a little further on this. Belmont Club posted on this event yesterday in "The Widow's Mite", with a telling condemnation in the last two paragraphs of the hypocrisy demonstrated by the CPT. Read or don't at your pleasure. Most of the 50 or so comments to-date seemed fairly tame - and several interesting points were raised.

Kudos to the participating Canadian team (and the Brits) on the ground at the time. And nice to read they were actually sent there by the liberal administration. Well done all the way around.

Now, if only the CPT would admit they are more into politics than God's work, and drop "Christian" from the group's name. But that won't happen.

 
At 10:10 PM, March 24, 2006, Blogger LoryKC said...

I did hear about the rescue this week and am so glad that the hostages are safe.
I hope the media give them some time to recover and process their experience a little...but that might be another thing that won't happen.

 
At 4:11 PM, March 25, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

• Sadie Lou:
Definitely a good example of irony — the sort of thing a writer of fiction might dream up.

• Mary P.:
I'm so relieved for the happy ending.

When I started posting on this story, I admit I didn't expect any of them to come out alive. And maybe they wouldn't have if the situation had been allowed to drag on any longer than it already had.

• 49er:
Nice to read [the Canadian soldiers] were actually sent there by the liberal administration.

It's worth noting that this is the first time Canada has sent soldiers into Iraq. I'm sure they were sent in for the specific purpose of rescuing Loney and Sooden, not to carry out any other kind of mission.

If only the CPT would admit they are more into politics than God's work.

It bugs me when CPT is described as a missionary organization. To me, that's a slur on real missionaries.

• Lory:
I admit, I'm very curious what account they will give of their experience. But I agree, they should be given some privacy while they adjust to freedom again. I will be very surprised if the media grants them that.

 
At 11:49 AM, March 27, 2006, Blogger snaars said...

It bugs me when CPT is described as a missionary organization. To me, that's a slur on real missionaries.

Q, maybe I missed something in your previous posts on the subject, because I am confused by your statement and I am genuinely curious as to its meaning. Why are CPTers not real missionaries, for you?

I glanced breifly at the CPT's website and I can't figure out why you would find fault with them.

I'm not trying to start a debate or anything, because I haven't formed an opinion on the subject. I just want to know. Maybe you said it already and I missed it.

 
At 9:41 AM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Snaars:
Perhaps I spoke too strongly when I said, "when CPT is described as a missionary organization … that's a slur on real missionaries." But I remain unconvinced that CPT activities are appropriately described as "missionary" work.

It turns out that CPT itself rejects the label:
Q. Is CPT a missionary organization?
A. NO. CPT is a peacemaking organization focussed on reducing violence and protecting human rights in conflict zones. CPT does not participate in any missionary activities.

I suspect they mean, "We don't try to convert non-Christians to our religion." But preaching the Gospel is only one element of missionary work. Other traditional missionary activity includes education, healthcare, construction projects, etc.

I would sum up the "social gospel" element of missionary work by saying that it must be constructive. My suspicion about CPT is that they are against something more than for anything.

More than anywhere else, this comes through in CPT's motto: "Getting in the way". The motto suggests that CPT tries to block stuff from happening — an essentially negative mandate.

Their work in Iraq sounds partly laudable and partly absurd. For example:

• put a human face on Iraq, helping people in the U.S. understand that Saddam Hussein was not the only person living in Iraq [Americans didn't know that?];

• provide an alternative voice to the reporters "embedded" with Coalition forces [assumption: the mainstream media can't be trusted];

• use their bodies to protect critical civilian infra-structure such as water treatment facilities, electrical plants, and hospitals [because the Americans will stop the war if they think a single white guy might get killed];

• document abuse of detainees by Coalition forces; and
• support a variety of new and old Iraqi human rights groups which suddenly found themselves with space and freedom to operate.

That last point is especially interesting. I wonder: how did these Iraqi human rights groups suddenly find themselves with space and freedom to operate? Could it have anything to do with those evil Coalition forces who typically amuse themselves by abusing detainees?

Couldn't be! It must have happened spontaneously. Iraqi human rights groups just "suddenly found themselves with space and freedom to operate."

 
At 2:56 PM, March 29, 2006, Blogger snaars said...

Thanks for clarifying.

 

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