Tom Fox, the American among four Christian peace activists kidnapped in November who was found slain in Baghdad last week, was remembered Saturday as a passionate crusader for justice in Iraq.
"We mourn the loss of Tom Fox, who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone," the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams said in a release.
Mr. Fox, who lived in Clear Brook, Va., was the fifth American hostage killed in Iraq. There was no immediate word on his fellow captives, a Briton and two Canadians.
The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades claimed responsibility for kidnapping the four Christian Peacemaker Teams members, who disappeared Nov. 26. Three of them - Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden; and Briton Norman Kember - were seen in a video dated Feb. 28 that was broadcast last Tuesday on Al Jazeera television. Fox did not appear in the brief, silent footage.
While in Iraq, Fox visited detained Iraqis, escorted shipments of medicine to clinics and hospitals, and worked to form an Islamic Peacemaker Team, said Paul Slattery, a member of the Langley Hill Friends Meeting that Fox, a Quaker, also attended in McLean, Va.
"He actually believed in his heart that he would better them by his conviction and his beliefs and his skills, and I think largely succeeded," Mr. Slattery said. "What he leaves behind is a tremendous challenge for the rest of us and a guiding force."
At least 250 foreigners have been kidnapped in the nearly three years since US-led forces invaded Iraq and at least 40 have been killed. Among the Americans still being held is Jeffrey Ake, a contractor from LaPorte, Ind., who is married and has four children. He was abducted April 11, 2005, while working near Baghdad.
According to an Associated Press article last April, Mr. Ake owns Equipment Express, a company that makes water-bottling equipment. He had traveled to Iraq at least twice before his abduction on business trips to help with postwar reconstruction.
Journalist Jill Carroll, who was on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor when she was kidnapped Jan. 7 in Baghdad, has appeared in three videotapes delivered by her kidnappers to Arab satellite television stations. Ms. Carroll's kidnappers initially threatened to kill her unless all female detainees in Iraq are released.
Efforts have been ongoing to secure Carroll's release. Last week Iraqi TV began airing a public-service announcements in Arabic that carry the message: "Kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll loves Iraq, and now she needs your help. It is time for Jill Carroll to come home safely."
Sadeq Mohammed Sadeq, a Lebanese-American who formerly worked for SkyLink USA, a Virginia-based contractor was kidnapped by gunmen around midnight Nov. 2, 2004, from his home in Baghdad. He was shown on a video released later that month. Aban Elias, an Iraqi-American civil engineer from Denver, was seized May 3, 2004, by Islamic Rage Brigade.
Violence continued to target journalists over the weekend. Amjad Hameed, a journalist for the state-run Al Iraqiya television, was attacked by gunmen who killed him on Saturday while he was being driven to his job. His driver, Anwar Turki, died later in the hospital.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said Mr. Hameed, who was married and the father of three, was the 11th Al Iraqiya journalist killed since the channel opened shortly after Saddam Hussein was ousted nearly three years ago. The group expressed condolences to his family and called on Iraqi authorities to make every effort to guarantee security for all journalists.