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Iraq Transition

FBI: Body of U.S. hostage found in Iraq

Tom Fox among four peace activists kidnapped in November


Tom Fox

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The body of Tom Fox, a Christian peace advocate held hostage in Iraq, has been found, the U.S. State Department confirmed Friday.

Iraqi emergency police said Fox was shot in the head and had signs that he had been tortured.

Fox's body was found wrapped in a blanket Thursday in the Daoudi neighborhood in western Baghdad -- dumped on the main road near a train station. His hands and feet were bound, police said.

There was no word on three other men abducted with Fox.

The FBI verified his identity Friday morning, State Department spokesman Noel Clay said.

"While additional forensic testing will be completed in the United States, we believe this is the body of Tom Fox," he said.

Clay added that the Fox family has been notified, and he offered the department's "heartfelt condolences."

A group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade kidnapped Fox on November 26 along with three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams: Briton Norman Kember, and Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden.

During a news conference, the Rev. Carol Rose, a Christian Peacemaker Teams co-director, said she forgives Fox's kidnappers and renewed her plea that the other three hostages be released.

"We do hope mercy will be extended to the other three," she said.

Calling Fox a man who maintained "a firm opposition to all oppression," Rose urged anyone angered by Fox's death not to retaliate and to "set aside all inclination to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done.

"We forgive those who consider us their enemies," Rose said.

After the kidnappings in November, the Swords of Righteousness Brigade threatened to kill the four men if the United States and Iraq did not release their Iraqi prisoners, but several deadlines given by the group passed.

Arabic-language television station Al-Jazeera aired a 25-second video of Fox's fellow hostages Tuesday. The Al-Jazeera anchor said the three men were pleading for their home governments and Arab leaders to help secure their release.

No captors were visible in the video, which had a February 28 time stamp. Fox was not in the footage, and there was no mention of his status. (Full story)

"We are glad to see Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Sooden. We are unhappy that Tom Fox is absent from the video," Christian Peacemaker Teams said in a statement issued after the video was aired. "We are concerned for the families of all our colleagues, but today we are especially concerned for Tom's family and call on those who are holding our friends to reassure his family that he is well."

In an essay called "Fight or Flight?" that Fox wrote about a year before he was kidnapped, it was apparent that the humanitarian worker had considered the possibility that he could lose his life fighting for human rights in Iraq. In the essay, he addressed the dangers posed both by soldiers and by terrorist kidnappers.

"But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am not to give in to either," he wrote. "I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying 'American for the Taking?' No to both counts.

"But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it, to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan," Fox wrote.

Fox's friend, John Surr, said Fox felt his calling in Iraq was worth the potential risk.

"He was willing to go in there at all costs," Surr said.

Fox, a 54-year-old Quaker, has two children, according to Christian Peacemaker Teams. He enjoyed cooking and playing music on his recorder and bass clarinet.

A music major, Fox graduated from college in May 1973. Though he was unwilling to participate in U.S. military actions in Vietnam, he auditioned for and earned a spot in the Marine Band, based in Washington, where he played to support his family.

After leaving the military, Fox quit the band to become a grocer, according to Christian Peacemaker Teams.

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