American not seen in footage from Iraq - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

American not seen in footage from Iraq

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Posted: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 6:15 am | Updated: 3:35 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Arab television broadcast a new videotape Tuesday showing three Christian peace activists taken hostage in Iraq last year, but a fourth - the only American abducted - was not seen in the footage.

The four had not been heard from since a videotape aired by Al-Jazeera television on Jan. 28, dated from a week before. A statement purportedly accompanying that tape said the hostages would be killed unless all Iraqi prisoners were released from Iraqi and U.S. prisons. No deadline was set.

The hostages seen in the new Al-Jazeera video dated Feb. 28 were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74.

Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., was not in the 25-second tape, said Maxine Nash, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad.

"We do not know what to make of Tom Fox's absence from this video," Christian Peacemaker Teams said in a statement issued at its Chicago headquarters.

The four workers disappeared Nov. 26. The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades claimed responsibility for kidnapping them.

Tuesday's tape showed the three men sitting in chairs and speaking, although there was no audio. One had white hair and a slight beard; the two others had dark hair and full beards. The tape said the men asked their governments and Persian Gulf countries to work for their release.

The organization said in its Tuesday statement that 14,600 Iraqis "currently (are) detained illegally by the Multinational Forces in Iraq."

The activists had been warned repeatedly by Iraqi and Western security officials before being abducted that they were taking a grave risk by moving around Baghdad without bodyguards.

Christian Peacemaker Teams have been working in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations of abuse against Iraqi detainees by American and Iraqi forces. Its teams host human rights conferences in conflict zones, promoting peaceful solutions.

Another American still held hostage is reporter Jill Carroll, who the Iraqi interior minister has said was being held by the Islamic Army in Iraq, the insurgent group that freed two French journalists in 2004 after four months in captivity.

Bayan Jabr, who is in charge of Iraq's police, also said he believed the 28-year-old freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor was still alive, although the deadline set by her captors for the United States to meet their demands expired late last month.

Three videotapes provided by the kidnappers to Arab satellite television stations identified the group holding her as the previously unknown "Revenge Brigades." She was seized Jan. 7 in Baghdad and her translator was killed.

The kidnappers have publicly demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq, but the owner of a Kuwaiti TV station that aired a videotape of Carroll last month said the group provided more specific conditions that he refused to reveal.

More than 250 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and at least 39 have been killed.

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