Video: Iraq Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Hostages

The other shoe has dropped: The Swords of Righteousness Brigade terrorists holding four members of the so-called Christian Peacemaker Teams* have threatened to kill them unless all prisoners are released from U.S. and Iraqi detention centers on a video shown on Al-Jazeera.

Iraq kidnappers threaten to kill hostages (AP/USA Today)

Photo: The hostages, clockwise from top left: Tom Fox, 54; Norman Kember, 74; Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and James Loney, 41. 	Christian Peacemaker Teams via AFP/Getty ImagesThe kidnappers of four Christian peace activists threatened to kill the hostages unless all prisoners in U.S. and Iraqi detention centers are released, according to a videotape broadcast Friday by Al-Jazeera television. The tape showed what the broadcaster said were two Canadian hostages. An American and a Briton are also being held. The kidnappers gave the two governments until Dec. 8 to meet their demands, Al-Jazeera quoted a statement delivered with the tape as saying.

The Canadians were shown eating from plates of what appeared to be Arabic sweets. In a second clip, the British and American hostages were shown to talking to the camera but no audio was transmitted. All four men appeared frightened.

The hostages called on the U.S. and British governments to withdraw from Iraq, Al-Jazeera reported, quoting a statement from the kidnappers, who earlier identified themselves as the Swords of Righteousness Brigade — a previously unknown group. The group has claimed that its hostages — from the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams — were spies working under the cover of peace activists. The group denied spying.

The activists were seized Saturday near Baghdad University. A car blocked their car, gunmen got out, threw the driver and translator out and drove away with the four captives, security officials said Thursday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media. The men were kidnapped at the same place where Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, was seized Feb. 4 and held for a month by a group calling itself Mujahedeen Without Borders. That group had not been known before and has not been heard from since, but may be using a different name.

The Christian activists — Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va.; Norman Kember, 74, of London; James Loney, 41, of Toronto; and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, of Canada — had been repeatedly warned by Iraqi and Western security officials that they were taking a grave risk by moving about Baghdad without bodyguards.

A German archaeologist, Susanne Osthoff, 43, also disappeared recently. On a video made public Nov. 29, kidnappers threatened to kill her unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government. Osthoff, who speaks Arabic, had helped distribute aid in Iraq.

The cycle of taking of hostages, followed by the release of videos making absurd demand, followed by videos of the hostages being beheaded sickened the world when it started in May 2004 with the murder of Nick Berg had seemed blessedly over, as the media tired of covering the stories and even much of the Muslim world recoiled in horror. One hopes this is just a publicity stunt and the hostages will be released.

As always, Rusty Shackleford is on the story.

Political Teen Ian Schwarz and Shawn Wasson have the video available for download.

*See Rev. Don Sensing‘s thoughts on this term.

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    I assume the peace activists were trying to become martyrs, so I’m not really sure what to hope for here ….

  2. luke says:

    “if they ever encounter them they should be shot dead on the spot never bother with a trial these are ruthless monsters” hmmm sounds like something from some one that leans far right politically, and prolly supports the war and thinks that america being there is helpful. Well if you were to shoot the kidnappers dead with out a trial then you are bringing your self down to their level and ultimately deserve the same fate. See I really don’t feel that any american has to right to accuse any one of being a terrorist or has any athority to “rid the world of terror” considering George Washington was a terrorist, and America was built by, in effect terrorists. So what I am saying is that the founding fathers are not much different from todays freedom fighters in iraq.