• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


How the CPT Hostages Were Freed


Irbil, Iraq.

Norman Kember, the British peace activist kidnapped in Iraq, is expected home in two days after being freed with two fellow hostages following an operation by international forces.

It is believed that the location where the three men were held in west Baghdad was traced after information was supplied by Iraqi go-betweens who had established contact with the kidnappers.

British, American, Canadian and Iraqi police and troops were involved in the mission, lasting three weeks, in which mobile calls made by people close to the abductors had been monitored.

Mr Kember, a 74-year-old grandfather, and his Canadian companions from the Christian Peacemaker Teams, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden, were found unguarded in the house four months after their abduction. He is expected back in the UK in two days.

The body of a fourth hostage, 54-year-old American Tom Fox, had been found, with marks of having been tortured, in the Mansour district of Baghdad last month, leading to fears that the others too may have been murdered.

Mr Kember spoke to his wife, Pat, on the telephone following his release. Afterwards, he said at the British embassy in Baghdad: "It’s great to be free. I am looking forward to getting back to the UK." Last night, he was described as being in "reasonable condition".

Speaking at her home in Pinner, north London, Mrs Kember, 72, said that she was "thrilled " and "could not wait to have him back". She said that she had been deluged with calls from friends, relations and the media after the news broke that her husband had been released.

Mr Kember’s two fellow hostages needed hospital treatment. In a telephone conversation with his mother in Canada, Mr Loney said an Iraqi man had led Western forces to the building where he and the others were being held. He described his captors as "basically a criminal gang".

Mr Kember’s brother Ian said: "What’s happened is a wonderful thing and obviously a great relief."

The Rev Robert Gardiner, a family friend, who is a minister at Harrow Baptist Church near the couple’s home, said the murder of Mr Fox meant Mrs Kember "had to face up to the reality that Norman could be next … That distressed her deeply because she was just beginning to hope that sort of thing was not going to happen". He added that she had only been able to watch the videotaped messages taken during his kidnapping for the first time last night.

The raid, at just after 8am Baghdad time (5am GMT), followed the arrest of two suspects at a different address in west Baghdad on Wednesday evening.

There were differing accounts among the "coalition of the willing" about who was most responsible for freeing the hostages. In London, government ministers said that British forces had played a "prominent role" during the rescue mission. The Prime Minister said that he was " delighted" and had spoken on the telephone to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to thank him for the help given by Canadian troops.

The Defence Secretary, John Reid, said: "The rescue of Norman Kember and his colleagues was by a multi-national force spearheaded by British troops. British troops were involved in a rolling operation which finished at 5am. The British troops played a key role in it but, of course, it involved troops from other nations as well."

British defence sources insisted it was they who had gathered the intelligence for the rescue, 12 miles from Baghdad.

However in Baghdad itself, a US Major-General, Rick Lynch, asserted that one of the two suspects arrested by American forces supplied vital information.

"We conducted an assault on the house, and inside the house we found three hostages, in good condition. There were no kidnappers there at the time. The three hostages were by themselves," he said.

Iraqi sources said that the country’s interior ministry had played a significant role in the rescue through the use of informers. One insistedit would have been impossible for Western forces to have found the location of the kidnap house without Iraqi help.

Three days after the kidnapping on 26 November last year, video footage of the hostages was released by a previously unknown group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which accused the hostages of being spies.

Appeals for the release of the hostages were made on Arabic TV by Mrs Kember, the jailed radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada and former British Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg.

The veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, a friend of Mr Kember’s, said he " fell out of bed" when rung by a reporter with the news. "I was amazed, I just burst into tears," he said. "Tom Fox’s death was the worst moment of it all, bringing back thoughts of all the terrible executions and beheadings from before."

In a statement, the Christian Peacemaker Teams in North America said that their "hearts are filled with joy" at the release of their members.

It said: "They went motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a non-violent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict … We believe the illegal occupation of Iraq by multi-national forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end."


October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria