Four Members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams were kidnapped almost two weeks ago. They are still missing, and apparently are still alive, despite an initial claim that they would be killed on December 8th.
There has been no sign of movement by the US, UK, and Iraqi governments to cooperate with the kidnappers’ demands.
The CPT however, have been hard at work to get the word out about the plight of their comrades. CPT, an NGO dedicated to non-violence has issued several press releases and statements since the kidnapping. Also, since the families revealed the identities of the hostages, there has been a flurry of activity by family members.
At this time the Christian Peacemakers are one of the only international organizations operating in Iraq. If there colleagues are not released, it may well be important for those opposed to the war to reconsider their view of the Iraqi Resistance.
While I was in Iraq, every Iraqi told me that they support the resistance and believe it is their right and duty, as Iraqis, to resist the Occupation. Many of these Iraqis also told me that while there is a legitimate, supported Resistance or “Maqowamah” as they say in Iraq, there were also terrorists.
The distinction has been drawn very carefully, that the Maqowamah target only the US patrols and tanks and bases, and unfortunately sometimes civilians are killed.
The terrorists, or “Irhabis” are just working to cause instability and destruction in Iraq. They target civilians without concern, they also are those involved in attacking the Mosques and other important places.
There are also criminals who are concerned only with money and their own gains. The criminals have engaged in kidnapping for profit, and this is one of the largest concerns about security in Iraq. Many more Iraqis appear to be worried about criminals than terrorism, especially in relatively stable areas such as Baghdad.
There have been thousands of cases of kidnappings since the war began in 2003, and particularly since the occupation began in the summer of 2003. Kidnappings are so common that it would be difficult to meet Iraqis who don’t have friends or relatives who have been kidnapped.
When I first arrived in Amman, I was staying at a popular cheap hotel, the Al Munzor. I had only been at the hotel a few days before the concierge, Jamal, introduced me to an Iraqi who had just arrived from Baghdad. Some men has kidnapped his uncle the week before, and were asking for one hundred thousand dollars in ransom.
This is an amount of money that is almost inconceivable to Iraqis. So much so, that Muhammad almost laughed at himself and the idea when he told us about his uncle.
It is very difficult to know who is holding the members of CPT, we can certainly be glad, however, that they are still be kept alive for now.
[Editor’s note: There will be an update to this post, once the videos and other text from CPT have been uploaded to Alive in Baghdad]