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Hostages: Is Righteous Brigade Linked To IAI?

Foreign Affairs: Is Righteous Brigade Group Linked To IAI?

Summarised Round-up by the Scoop Team

Video of Abu Qatada calling for hostages release
Swords of the Righteous Brigades statements in Arabic and English
Bios of the four men held hostage
Background of the IAI
Earlier video and audio files

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Click for big version

Harmeet Sooden (pictured left) is well known for his messages of peace for those who are oppressed.

Information has come to light that the group The Swords of the Righteousness Brigades may be linked to the entity IAI (Islamist Army in Iraq). It appears there are similarities between the modus operandi of the IAI and the group that is holding Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, Tom Fox, and Norman Kember.

For example: reports show that the IAI kidnaps an individual or group of people, makes a demand that is in all practicalities impossible to achieve, often the demands are indirectly related to the kidnapped victims.

Readers may remember that the IAI captured Enzo Baldoni, an Italian journalist who also volunteered for the Red Cross in Iraq. To quote reports: "IAI demanded that Italy withdraw all troops from Iraq or Enzo Baldoni, both an independent journalist and humanitarian volunteer, would be killed. Italy did not recall its troops and Baldoni was murdered."

On 31 August 2004, the IAI extended the deadline by 24 hours for French journalist hostages, Radio France correspondent Christian Chesnot, and, Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper. The two men were shown in a videocalling on the French government to revoke the headscarves ban and on the French people to demonstrate against the legislation.

The main Sunni Muslim religious organisation head in Iraq, Shaikh Abd Al-Sattar, renewed his appeal for the pair's release via Al-Jazeera: "In the name of the Association of Muslim Scholars we urge the kidnappers to release the two journalists."

Also, Dr Fathi Yakun, founder of the Islamic Movement of Lebanon, denounced via Al-Jazeera the kidnapping of journalists in Iraq: "The French stance in opposing the war against Iraq and its continuous support to the Arab and Islamic questions along with France's opposition to take part in any military action against Iraq, was quite enough to justify freeing these hostages," he said.

Later, the IAI released the men stating: "They were [freed]... in response to appeals from Islamic institutions and bodies and in appreciation of the French government's stand on the Iraq issue."

The Sword of the Righteous Brigades has extended the deadline until Saturday for its demands that all Iraqi prisoners be released by the United States and British governments, it appears both the Brigade and IAI may have used a 'third party' intermediary – as the Brigade's statements seem to have been first released on the IAI's website and signed by the same individual who had earlier published IAI demands in previous hostage operations.

In this instance it is hoped that the goodwill extended by Palestinian and Islamic groups to Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, Norman Kember, and, Thomas Fox for the peaceful works that they have done for the oppressed in the Middle East will cause the captors to consider freeing them.

It is likely significant that cleric Abu Qatada has sought the release of the hostages addressing The Swords of the Righteous Brigade via video from his British prison cell.

See Video Scoop Video.Scoop Video: Abu Qatada Seeks Release Of Hostages


The IAI leader is Ishmael Jubouri, a member of a prominent Sunni tribe located to the south of Baghdad. According to reports, Jubouri says his terrorist organization is predominantly comprised of Iraqis and includes Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Arabs as members.


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Latest Communiqué from The Swords of the Righteous Brigades (Arabic follows):

"In response to the statements of the British Foreign Secretary

"Praise be to Allah the Lord of the World, and prayers and peace to the Honest Prophet, and to his Family and his Companions:

"So that all the world knows that we are standing by our legitimate demands and that we have heard the statements of the British Foreign Secretary, and so that we prove to the world that they are not serious in what they say, and so that we can show the liar who lies to the world, we extend the deadline for two more days to that the world can see the difference between the truthful ones and the liars.

The Sword of Righteousness Brigades

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} وَقُلْ جَاء الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا {

م/ ردا على تصريحات وزير الخارجية البريطاني الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على النبي الأمين، وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين أما بعد .. ليعلم العالم جميعا أننا متمسكون بمطالبنا المشروعة وقد سمعنا تصريحات وزير الخارجية البريطاني وكي نثبت للعالم عدم جديته فيما يقول ولنقطع الدرب على كل كذاب يريد أن يخادع العالم فإننا نمدد المهلة ليومين آخرين ليتبين الصادق من الكاذب.

سرايا سيوف الحق

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Bios of the Hostages follow: Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 is a Canadian electrical engineer from Montreal. He studdied at McGill University and is now working on a masters degree in English literature inAuckland University in New Zealand to prepare for a teaching career. He enjoys art, is active in squash and worked part time as a local squash coach. His family describes him as peaceful and fun-loving and he is known to be passionate about the plight of the underprivileged around the globe. He works tirelessly in his spare time to educate and help others.

James Loney, 41, is a community worker from Toronto, Canada. He has been a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams since August 2000, and is currently the Program Coordinator for CPT Canada. On previous visits to Iraq, his work focused on taking testimonies from families of detainees for CPT's report on detainee abuse, and making recommendations for securing basic legal rights. James was leading the November 2005 delegation in Iraq when he went missing. James is a peace activist, writer, trained mediator, and works actively with two Toronto community conflict resolution services. He has spent many years working to provide housing and support for homeless people. In a personal statement from James to CPT, he writes: “I believe that our actions as a people of peace must be an expression of hope for everyone. My hope in practising non-violence is that I can be a conduit for the transformative power of God's love acting upon me as much as I hope it will act upon others around me.”

Norman Kember, age 74, is from London, England. He and his wife of 45 years have two married daughters and a 3-year old grandson. He has been a pacifist all his life beginning with his work in a hospital instead of National Service at age 18. Before his retirement he was a professor teaching medical students at St Bartholemew's Hospital in London. He is well known as a peace activist, and has been involved in several peace groups. For the past 10 years he has volunteered with a local program providing free food to the homeless. He likes walking, birdwatching, and writing humorous songs and sketches. In his younger days he enjoyed mountaineering.

Tom Fox, age 54, is from Clearbrook, Virginia and is a dedicated father of two children. For the past two years, Mr. Fox has worked with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to promote peace. Mr. Fox has been faithful in the observance of Quaker practice for 22 years. While in Iraq, he sought a more complete understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S. policies and practices. Mr. Fox is an accomplished musician. He plays the bass clarinet and the recorder and he loves to cook. He has also worked as a professional grocer. Mr. Fox devotes much of his time to working with children. He has served as an adult leader of youth programs and worked at a Quaker camp for youth. He has facilitated young people's participation in opposing war and violence. Mr. Fox is a quiet and peaceful man, respectful of everyone, who believes that "there is that of God in every person" which is why work for peace is so important to him.


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A description of the IAI, as researched from incidents and organizations databases follows:

"The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) is a significant Iraqi terrorist entity, which is currently in operation. The group has initiated a brutally violent campaign against foreigners within Iraq, specifically anyone believed to be cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition. IAI has been implicated in several gruesome beheading deaths. The terrorist group aims to drive all U.S. and its related coalition forces, both military and civilian, from Iraq. But IAI does not limit its attacks to just these groups; it has also murdered French journalists, Pakistani contractors, an Italian journalist, and Macedonian citizens working for a U.S. company.

"The Islamic Army in Iraq has attacked French civilians in retaliation for France’s law regarding headscarves in schools. IAI does not limit its terrorist attacks to non-Iraqis; the group has also executed Iraqi people who join Iraq’s police and military services.

"Current Goals: According to the leader of the Islamic Army in Iraq, the group has thousands of terrorists in its ranks. The group’s leader also claims that the group is predominantly Iraqi, not foreign-born. Statements released in November 2004 announced that the Islamic Army in Iraq has collaborated with Ansar al-Sunnah and the terrorist network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, known then as Tawhid and Jihad and now as Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn.

"In April 2005, the Islamic Army in Iraq announced the formation of the “al-Aqsa Support Division.” Referring to the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, this group is meant to support Palestinians in their armed struggle against Israel. Its formation was brought about by rumors circulating in Iraq of a plot to tear down the holy Mosque. It is unknown at this time if the al-Aqsa Support Division has active contacts with terrorist groups in Israel or the Occupied Territories or if it is simply a rhetorical formation."

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Scoop Video.Scoop Video: Peace Vigil Asks Captors To Release Harmeet
Scoop Video.Scoop Video: Captors Release 3rd Video Of Two Hostages (2)
Scoop Video.Scoop Video: Captors Release 3rd Video Of Two Hostages (1)
Scoop Video.Scoop Video:Captors Release Second Hostage Video
Scoop Video.Scoop Video: First Release Of Video Showing Hostages
Scoop
Audio.Scoop Audio: Rockin' the Boat: CPT Peace Activists Held Hostage. Interview w/ Cliff Kendi, a CPT member who's spent many mos. in Iraq. Then, Huwaida Arraf of ISM on solidarity demos in Palestine.
ALSO:

  • Update on NZ support for Peacemakers
  • A Week of Palestinian Calls for Hostage Release
  • Palestine: Demonstrations For Four CPT Hostages
  • Letter From Palestinian Leaders To Al-Jazeera
  • Al-Jazeera Publishes NZ Palestine Leaders' Plea
  • Mufti of Palestine Calls For Hostages Release
  • ENDS

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