Saturday, December 03, 2005

Terrorists Kidnap Peace Activists

In an ironic twist, Iraqi terrorists kidnapped four western peace activists and now threaten to kill them unless all detainees held by the coalition are not released by December 8th. (The Courier-Mail: Iraq kidnappers threaten to kill hostages). The four activists, James Loney and Harmeet Sooden from Canada, Tom Fox from the US, and Norman Kember from the UK were kidnapped in Baghdad last Saturday.

The group had been warned repeatedly by US and Iraqi officials that they were placing themselves in grave danger by traveling around Baghdad without any escorts for protection. When they were taken, the kidnappers accused them of being spies and using the peace movement as a cover. Naturally, the four deny spying on the insurgents.

The message should be clear to everyone. The terrorists do not distinguish between peace activists and war hawks. They do not distinguish between civilians and soldiers. The only distinction they make is between themselves and the rest of the world. Idealists such as the four that were kidnapped are nothing more than easy targets for terrorists who have little regard for human life.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin condemned the kidnapping, promising that "the full resources of the federal government are being made available." While it's a very nice sentiment, it would have carried more weight if Canada had supported our efforts in Iraq from the beginning. Martin's comments may sound good, but they are a hollow statement. Without troops on the ground in Iraq, Canada will have to rely on those of us that are there if there is any chance for rescue.

What I question is why the activists were allowed there in the first place. All civilians can do right now is put themselves in harms way and set themselves up as targets. They do more harm than good and have absolutely no business being there at all. What's disturbing to me is that they now become yet another propaganda tool for the terrorists.

How to deal with the situation now is harsh, but simple. Former Israeli Prime Minister Mosha Dayan had the best method for dealing with hostage takers. In his view, the hostages were considered casualties of war and Israel responded accordingly. To Dayan, a hostage was considered dead the moment they were kidnapped. By devaluing the hostage in that fashion, he not only severely weakened the position of the kidnappers, but he also prevented further kidnappings. As harsh as it may seem, that is how we must deal with this situation. Of course, the next step is to stop civilians from traveling to Iraq until the situation is stable. It's not a tourist destination right now and they have absolutely no business being there.


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