not accept a "violent" operation to free four kidnapped staff members in Iraq, and urged American President George W. Bush to withdraw his forces from the country. 

An official of CPT Iraq, Maxine Nash, told President Bush in an open letter obtained by BosNewsLife that "we as an organization have choices before us regarding this [hostage] situation—to put our faith in the power of change through dialogue and understanding or to advocate the use of force to free our friends. Our principles and our beliefs have guided us to the first choice."

Nash’s appeal came a day after Germany urged the release of all hostages in Iraq, including the four CPT workers identified as Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, US national Tom Fox, 54, and Briton Norman Kember, 74.

They were scheduled to be executed Saturday, December 10, by militants calling themselves ‘Swords of the Truth’ if their demands for the release of all Iraqi prisoners were not met. But since the deadline expired, no news was received from the kidnappers.
Following Sunday’s release of German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, 43, who was kidnapped along with her driver November 25, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed hope that other hostages may soon be released.    

Nash said the fragile security situation has underscored the necessity for American troops to leave Iraq.

"Promises of a better life without a cruel dictator, improved living conditions, and a more stable nation have not materialized.  In fact, [my Iraqi friends] tell me this is the worst they have ever seen here in living memory," she argued. 

"They have lost faith in anything that is said by the American government.  Beginning the removal of troops would indicate that we do have their interests at heart instead of our own and that we can be trusted to do what is right."


In his address to the nation Sunday, December 18, President Bush said however that a military withdrawal now would mean that America abandons its "Iraqi friends — and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word." The US would "hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us," he warned.
Nash disagreed. "Again, my friends here tell me that they believe quite firmly that the violence would lessen if there were not the continuing provocative presence of foreign forces on their soil."

She said she hopes that the four CPT hostages would be released by Christmas and "that troops stationed here will be reunited with their families soon, and that Iraqis will be able to find the peace that has eluded their country for so long." (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Iraq).


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