Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kidnappers release new film of British peace activist

By Colin Freeman
(Filed: 29/01/2006)

Fresh footage of Norman Kember, the kidnapped British peace activist, was broadcast yesterday as his captors renewed their threat to kill him unless all Iraqi prisoners were freed.

Not likely to happen.

The demand, broadcast on Al Jazeera, the Arabic television channel, was the first public communication from the gang holding Mr Kember, 74, in nearly two months. In a statement accompanying the video, they gave no deadline for their demands to be met but said it was the "last chance" for the American and Iraqi authorities to save Mr Kember and his three fellow hostages.

How many last chances? 2 so far.

The appearance of the tape, dated January 21, seems to confirm that the kidnappers did not go ahead with their previous threat to murder the men in early December.

In the video, Mr Kember, from Pinner, north-west London, looked haggard and drawn but not visibly distressed. He was lined up with his fellow captives: the American, Tom Fox, 54; and James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both Canadian. Although the hostages appeared to be talking into the camera, there was no soundtrack on the video.

Probably have already decided that they are going to die anyway.

The broadcast of the video follows the release last Thursday of five female Iraqi prisoners from US military custody. Coalition commanders insisted that the women, who were suspected insurgents, were not being used as bargaining chips for the release of Jill Carroll, an American journalist who was kidnapped on January 7, or any other hostages.

They better not have been.

The Rev Alan Betteridge, a friend of Mr Kember, expressed hopes that the release of prisoners would nonetheless give the kidnap group an excuse to free their hostages. "I would long to feel that the captors would find a way of saving face and of saving life too," he said.

And encourage them to take more. Once they find out that even the Americans can knuckle under to threats, there will be no end to the the kidnapping.

Mr Kember was a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team, which was investigating human rights abuses in Iraq. They were snatched as they left a Sunni Mosque in western Baghdad on November 26.

What were they doing in a Sunni Mosque.

Mr Kember's wife Pat, who was described by friends as "holding up well" under the circumstances, declined to comment on the latest video as she arrived at her home in Pinner last night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What were they doing in a Sunni Mosque."

Excellent question.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Deathknyte said...

I am hoping someone comes up with an excellent answer.

8:45 PM  

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