Questions asked about intelligence that preceded Christian peacemaker's release

By staff writers
March 24, 2006

Questions asked about intelligence that preceded Christian peacemaker's release

-24/03/06

Questions are being raised about how much US and UK forces knew, at what stage, and for how long before the operation to release three Christian peacemakers in Iraq.

Norman Kember, 74, of north-west London, James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both Canadians were freed on Thursday morning without a shot being fired.

The British government has said that the operation had been going on for weeks. Other sources however have emphasised its immediacy, with one saying it had been going on for two days and a US Major General suggesting that he received the necessary intelligence to pinpoint the hostage's location from a detainee just a few hours before US and UK forces acted.

In particular it remains unclear what US and UK forces knew at the time that one of the peacemaker hostages, Tom Fox, was killed - less than two weeks ago.

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In a television interview on Thursday night the BBC's Newnight programme raised questions about how long the operation had been planned for, with the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Jack Straw however refused to "go into the operational details."

But in his initial statement after the hostages were released the Foreign Secretary emphasised that the operation followed "weeks and weeks of very careful work by military and coalition personnel in Iraq, and many civilians as well."

The Reuters news agency also reported that the release followed "weeks of intelligence work."

Just a few hours later, however, US General Rick Lynch suggested that an important piece of intelligence had enabled the operation to take place after two men were taken into custody by US forces on Wednesday night.

But a conflicting report followed from a senior Iraqi military officer who told The Associated Press that the operation had been under way for two days in the Abu Ghraib suburb west of Baghdad, site of the notorious prison. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position.

It is not yet known either the extent to which the work of the Christian peacemakers on behalf of Iraqi detainees, in the field of human rights, and the immense goodwill that their work generated in Iraq, played a part in the gaining of the intelligence that led to their release.

Questions asked about intelligence that preceded Christian peacemaker's release

-24/03/06

Questions are being raised about how much US and UK forces knew, at what stage, and for how long before the operation to release three Christian peacemakers in Iraq.

Norman Kember, 74, of north-west London, James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both Canadians were freed on Thursday morning without a shot being fired.

The British government has said that the operation had been going on for weeks. Other sources however have emphasised its immediacy, with one saying it had been going on for two days and a US Major General suggesting that he received the necessary intelligence to pinpoint the hostage's location from a detainee just a few hours before US and UK forces acted.

In particular it remains unclear what US and UK forces knew at the time that one of the peacemaker hostages, Tom Fox, was killed - less than two weeks ago.

Related Articles

In a television interview on Thursday night the BBC's Newnight programme raised questions about how long the operation had been planned for, with the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Jack Straw however refused to "go into the operational details."

But in his initial statement after the hostages were released the Foreign Secretary emphasised that the operation followed "weeks and weeks of very careful work by military and coalition personnel in Iraq, and many civilians as well."

The Reuters news agency also reported that the release followed "weeks of intelligence work."

Just a few hours later, however, US General Rick Lynch suggested that an important piece of intelligence had enabled the operation to take place after two men were taken into custody by US forces on Wednesday night.

But a conflicting report followed from a senior Iraqi military officer who told The Associated Press that the operation had been under way for two days in the Abu Ghraib suburb west of Baghdad, site of the notorious prison. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position.

It is not yet known either the extent to which the work of the Christian peacemakers on behalf of Iraqi detainees, in the field of human rights, and the immense goodwill that their work generated in Iraq, played a part in the gaining of the intelligence that led to their release.

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