So the deadline set by the hostage takers in Iraq was extended by two days, apparently because UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has expressed an interest in talks. This backs up a conviction I’ve held since hearing a speech by Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, a professor from Notre Dame who has written extensively on the motivations of terrorists, based on her personal travels with militants in several countries. Her basic hypothesis is that most people only become terrorists because they have legitimate grievances, and they feel like they’ve run out of options. Then, once conflict breaks out, it tends to beget more conflict on both sides, and people keep fighting mostly to avenge fallen comrades. It follows that a policy of never negotiating with terrorists only makes things worse, in that original causes are never dealt with that way. I’ll refer you to her books & other published works if you want to see more justification for these claims, but I will say that the few people I know who have actually sat down and talked with militants have basically come to the same conclusions.
Also, Al Jazeera broadcast a short video from CPT about the work they’re done around the world. It included footage shot by Shannon during a protest at an air show in Hamilton, featuring some good friends of ours, and has since been rebroadcast in part by CBC and other networks. I don’t think Shannon ever expected to have her work shown worldwide! Too bad it couldn’t have happened under happier circumstances — anyways, I hope it will help. Oh, and the last video the hostage takers released doesn’t show the two Canadian CPT members, which might be a hint that they plan to release them, on the grounds that our government doesn’t have soldiers in Iraq. The list of people asking for them to be released continues to grow, and now includes former Guantánamo Bay inmates and a radical Muslim cleric currently in prison in the UK.
Meanwhile, another insurgent group has reported killing their hostage Ronald Schulz, an American “security consultant”, meaning private soldier. I don’t agree with his reasons for being in Iraq, but I grieve his life too.
PS: If you’re interested in CPT, they’ve published some books about their work. Proceeds support their work.