Thursday, July 22, 2004

Six More Hostages Taken After the Philippines Surrenders

The New York Times reports that six more foreign hostages were taken by terrorist groups in Iraq very shortly after Philippine hostage Angelo de la Cruz was released.

Baghdad, Iraq, July 21 — Insurgents in Iraq said today that they had kidnapped six more foreign hostages — and threatened to behead one every 72 hours — a day after a Filipino truck driver was released in exchange for his government's withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

In taking six more hostages, insurgents here seemed aimed at repeating what seemed a concrete success in gaining widespread attention and forcing an American ally to weigh the cost of its presence in Iraq: On Monday, the Philippines finished withdrawing its 51 troops in Iraq, after the captors of the Filipino truck driver threatened to behead him unless his government did so. Iraqi and American officials urged the Philippines not to bend to the captors' demands, for fear that it would encourage more kidnappings.

Today, a group calling itself the Holders of the Black Banners released a videotape, photographs and a statement saying that it had kidnapped six more truck drivers — three Indians, two Kenyans and an Egyptian. The group threatened to kill one captive every three days unless their employer, identified as a Kuwaiti company, closed down operations in Iraq.

These six men, all workers from Third World countries, are the first fruits of the Philippine capitulation. And before the Philippine Left gets started on how it is all the fault of these countries for supporting America it should note that India does not, repeat does not, have any troops in Iraq. Success breeds imitation and the world is witnessing the repetition of the Sipadan hostage appeasement incident on an international scale. These new victims are simply the first of a long series of unfortunates who will be threatened with decapitation unless all nations emulate the surrender of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Even she knows it. Al Jazeerah reported Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's reaction to de la Cruz's release.

After putting down the phone, Arroyo raised both arms and cried “Praise God!” to the cheers of several officials in her office. ... She added, with a hint of warning to all other Overseas Filipino Workers: "Every life is important. Angelo was spared, and we rejoice. We are all rewarded for it, particularly his loving family and friends. But our people must also know that will not always be the case. Innocents will come into harm's way, and circumstances may not allow such a successful outcome."

What circumstances? When the Philippines runs out of ransom money or concessions to offer? If Arroyo's policy were correct then not only Kenya, India and Egypt, but the Philippines itself, faced with a similar situations in the future, should show no hesitation in repeating the performance. But we are not all rewarded for it, particularly the loving family and friends of the new hostages. These and future victims will pay the price of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's domestic political triumph.