Hostage peacemakers were shown Jesus DVD
Freed Christian peacemaker Norman Kember has broken his silence after arriving back in the UK.
In comments to be published tomorrow, he gives more details about his time in captivity, including relating how the Christian peacemakers were shown a DVD about Jesus.
Speaking to The Baptist Times, Mr Kember expressed his thanks to the paper and its readers for their support. "Thank you for keeping us in your prayers, for your vigils, and for the hundreds of letters Pat and I have received," he said. "We have been overwhelmed by the goodwill and the concern we have been shown."
Of his captivity, he said: "The experience of being confined is desperate. Not going outside for four months ñ itís having that time stolen. Iíd want to remind your readers how precious life is, and how precious the sight of a green tree would be when youíre deprived of it."
Their treatment, he said, had varied. "One night our captors took us downstairs, sat us in front of the TV, and showed us the life of Jesus on DVD in Arabic."
"But these are the people who shot Tom Fox in the head. People are very complex" he added.
It is not known whether Norman Kember is aware of the reports that suggest there were two different groups amongst the kidnappers.
The first appear to have been part of one of the Islamist insurgent groups, either Jaish al-Mujahideen or al-Jabha al-Islamiya. These were most likely responsible for series of political demands made in the video tapes of the hostages broadcast around the world. It was they who threatened to kill the hostages if their demands were not met. But there was another group ñ those who with a more direct role in guarding the hostages.
An unnamed western security source close to the operation has suggested that in mid-February one of the groups resolved to set the hostages free, one by one. A dispute then broke out and the more ruthless group came to take Tom Fox away and he was killed.
The showing of the Jesus video, is another piece in an emerging picture which suggests that the guards in the second group treated the hostages fairly well.
It has emerged that much of the time the hostages were not tied up. They were allowed to exercise and were given fresh clothing. Kember was given medication for high blood pressure. They had notebooks to pass the time, and Kember kept a journal. There was even cake at Christmas.
"I think they wanted to keep us happy, so that we wouldnít try any desperate escape." Kember told the Baptist Times.
He described his physical condition as "moderately fit and well". "Iím alright ñ Pat was surprised at how fit I am," he said.
Their apparently good treatment raises a number of questions about the relationship between the hostages and their captors.
The training that the peacemakers undergo before going into conflict zones around the world involves understanding how to combat the 'dehumanisation' of enemies, often necessary before committing violent acts, and something often involved in detention situations.
Doug Prichard, director of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Canada told Ekklesia that is was 'highly likely' that the peacemakers would have attempted to 'humanise' themselves to their captors, and build relationships with them.
Whilst the peacemakers were in captivity, others around the world attempted a similar strategy of emphasising the peacemakers humanity through television appeals. It is now known that the captors had a television and watched news bulletins.
If the peacemakers did manage to build relationships with their captors it also raises the possibility that their non-violent actions played a part in the divisions between the hostage-takers and also their eventual release.
After the killing of Tom Fox, reports suggest it was one of the 'guards' that released the information which pinpointed where the peacemakers were.
But Mr Kember continued paid tribute to the SAS team which found the men, saying, "Iím very grateful to them for rescuing me. And our diplomatic service was super. I am full of praise for them."
He also expressed his appreciation of the support of the Muslim community in Harrow, whose Saturday School had sent him a basket of bulbs.
Mr Kember said that there was "no point in regretting" his decision to go to Iraq in the first place, but that he was very happy to be back and to attend church. "When youíre free, and you donít go to church, whatís the point in being free?" he said.