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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    I said this a week ago, James, and it’s still applies; I drew a comparison to “Young Frankenstein:

    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Love is the only thing that can save this poor creature, and I am going to convince him that he is loved even at the cost of my own life. No matter what you hear in there, no matter how cruelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door or you will undo everything I have worked for. Do you understand? Do not open this door.
    Inga: Yes, Doctor.
    Igor: Nice working with ya.

    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein goes into the room with The Monster. The Monster wakes up and…

    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Let me out. Let me out of here. Get me the hell out of here. What’s the matter with you people? I was joking! Don’t you know a joke when you hear one? HA-HA-HA-HA. Jesus Christ, get me out of here! Open this goddamn door or I’ll kick your rotten heads in! Mommy!

    Why is it the rest of us are supposed to take pity on these fools when they’re finally faced with the reality that their assessment of the situation was completely backwards? I mean, forgive me for being cold about this, but I’m getting a little tired of seeing people risking their lives to go in and save these bloody fools. I’d take their continuance at these attempts as solid explanation for why people continue to believe, as an example, that communism can work. ( And it’s no accident, I suppose, that the majority of the people involved with these kind of ventures are invariably from the left end of the political spectrum. )

    No amount of dead bodies behind the monster , can change the image in the minds of these idiots as they mouth the immortal words… (from the movie) “This is a good boy. This is a mother’s angel. You are not evil. You are good. ”

    This is precisely the same kind of fool that believes …(Note I didn’t say “thinks”)… that by going over to the radical Islamic nations and professing brotherly love, that they’re going to solve the situation. The reality is, that all they do was set themselves up as targets, along with anyone who comes in behind them trying to save their sorry butts, and I’m getting damned sick of it.

    again, forgive me for sounding cold about this, but maybe eventually enough of this happening, will make these morons understand that this is a real, live, enemy we are up against. Not all cultures are equal. Not all cultures are good. In this case they had the bad guy labeled as the United States. And then surely, Tom fox found out differently.

    The question after every event like this always is will the similarly minded morons figure this stuff out? Alas, as I suggested, they never do.

  2. Herb says:

    Bithead:

    I totally agree with you on this one. I doubt that some of these folks will ever understand that they are only pawns in the islamic game of killing. They could care less about who is trying to aid or help them.

    While the attempt is made to provide aid, it is all for naught and these four people should have recognized that.