U.S. Hostage Tom Fox Killed in Iraq
Tom Fox has been killed in Iraq by his kidnappers.
An American who was among four Christian activists kidnapped last year in Iraq has been killed, a State Department spokesman said Friday. The FBI verified that a body found in Iraq 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. Clay said he did not know how Fox was killed but said 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.” “The State Department continues to call for the unconditional release of all other hostages” in Iraq, the spokesman said.
Fox’s organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, said Friday, “We mourn the loss of Tom Fox, who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.” Christian Peacemaker co-directors Doug Pritchard and Carol Rose said in a statement, “In response to Tom’s passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done.” “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.
A statement from the Christian Peacemakers (oddly, dated March 7*) appears on their website. In part, it says,
In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion. The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain. Tom Fox’s body was found in Baghdad yesterday.
Christian Peacemaker Teams extends our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have traveled so closely in these days of crisis.
We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.
We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember. Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus’ prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.
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. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.”
Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war.
A BBC profile from last November provides some background information on the CPTs.
The four men, from the UK, US and Canada who were kidnapped by a militant group in Iraq, are all associated with the North America-based ecumenical pacifist group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). The group, based in Chicago and Toronto, has long operated in the world’s troubled regions in an effort to reduce violence.
The group describes its work as “truth telling”, recounting the stories of ordinary individuals in areas of conflict. Many of these stories are relayed to a wider audience in the members’ home countries via e-mail, newsletters and public appearances. CPT is also active in lobbying government officials.
In Iraq, the group’s work has focused on the issue of Iraqi detainees held by US forces. This has involved taking testimonies from families of detainees and former detainees alleging human rights abuses. “We were the first to publicly denounce the torture of the Iraqi people held by occupation forces,” CPT co-director Doug Pritchard told the BBC. He said this was months before the Western media reported on abuses at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
The Rev. Donald Sensing had a long post on the CPT in December, in which he wondered,
Is Christian Peacemaker Teams really a Christian organization? It does not evangelize or do missionary work. It befriends and supports mass murders and tyrants for no apparent reason other than the United States opposes them. Perhaps you will call that “Christian” works, but I do not. Are they peacemakers? It seems the only peace they work to preserve is the peace of the grave.
Still, misguided or no, these men do not deserve to be murdered.
Update (3/11): Slain American Hostage Was Bound, Shot
The body of American Tom Fox, who was among four Christian peace activists kidnapped last year, was found near a west Baghdad railway line with gunshot wounds to his head and chest, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Saturday.
A U.S. military official in Baghdad confirmed that American forces picked up Fox’s remains on Thursday evening but had no condition on the body.
A police patrol was also on the scene, said Falah al-Mohammedawi, an official with the Interior Ministry, which oversees police. He said Fox was found with his hands tied and gunshots to his head and chest. There were also cuts on his body and bruises on his head, al-Mohammedawi said.
More updates at OTB News.
*The site has since been updated with the correct date. My guess is it was written early in anticipation of the inevitable. Last night’s version captured here.