Thursday, March 23, 2006

Free at last

Like many others, I felt a great rush of joy and relief at the news that the three surviving Christian Peacemaker Team members were freed early this morning. I look forward to hearing their stories, not only of their captivity, but also of what they saw and learned in Iraq before their kidnapping. Perhaps their momentary notoriety will gain a little more attention from the mass news media than they were given before.

I've also been noticing discrepancies regarding the circumstances of Tom Fox's death that the Peacemakers may be able to clear up. I read Martin Kelly's note that Tom's family members reported that his body showed no signs of torture as had been initially reported, and was reported again as late as yesterday's New York Times. I wonder sometimes at the way rumors and accepted truth gets promulgated even after reliable witnesses contradict it.

Then I read this in the on-line news.telegraph from the UK about the secret "SAS" team that freed the hostages and how they learned where they were:

In every such case there needs to be a break in order to put that information together and this time it came in a particularly tragic and unwanted way when the corpse of Tom Fox, the fourth member of the Christian Peacemakers team taken in November, was found two weeks ago.

An examination of his body led investigators to conclude that he had not been executed, as had been thought. There was no shot to the head as is usual in Iraqi executions.

Instead three bullet wounds were found in his arm and three in his chest. The bruising thought to be signs of torture was instead seen as evidence of a struggle.

Investigators concluded the kidnappers had not killed him simply because he was American. He had been killed possibly while trying to escape - which would explain the lack of a video of his murder that would usually accompanies a politically-motivated killing.

The kidnappers appeared to have lost control of the situation, and their unintended act had led to new leads. By last weekend hopes of a possible rescue were increasing. . . .
The article also refers to an Iraqi arrested the night before the rescue who "cracked" and gave away the hostages' location. I hope the word "cracked" was used loosely and not as a synonym for "tortured." That would be a cruel irony indeed.

Another is that, because of the arrest of their comrade, the kidnappers ran away to fight another day, leaving the Peacemakers to be rescued without a shot being fired. (All this according to the news.telegraph.)

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