Christian Peacemakers Alive; Kidnappers Give 'Last Chance' For Lives

The kidnappers of four Christian peace activists released a tape dated Jan. 21, in which they threatened to kill their captives unless all Iraqi prisoners were released from Iraqi and U.S. prisons.

The new tape that aired on the Al-Jazeera television channel today showed the four Christian Peacemaker Team members – two Canadians, an American and a Briton – who were kidnapped by a group called Swords of Righteous Bridges on Nov. 26, 2005.

According to the Associated Press, the footage showed the men standing near a wall. Another scene showed them seated and talking, but their voices were not heard.

The news reader at Doha, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, which did not disclose how the tape was obtained, said the kidnappers issued a statement with the tape saying it would be the “last chance” for U.S. and Iraqi authorities to “release all Iraqi prisoners in return of freeing the hostages, otherwise their fate will be death.”

No deadline was set.

Since the four hostages – Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va.; Norman Kember, 74, of London; and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 – were kidnapped last November, the hostage-takers have set two deadlines for the United States to release Iraqi prisoners. The United States refused to comply each time.

Carol Rose, a U.S.-based coordinator for Christian Peacemaker, told AP that she could not comment immediately as they were still waiting to see the tape.