Foreign aid workers, contractors, and journalists remain targets of kidnappings across Iraq. In almost all of the kidnappings, the hostage-takers have the same demand: that the hostages’ home country withdraw its troops from the coalition that is helping the Iraqi people secure their freedom and build their democracy. In addition, a disturbing trend has been the taking the hostages virtually as a business, with hostage-takers demanding ransom for the release of individuals, including Iraqis, coalition members, and contract workers.
Italy and Australia are countries that have had their nationals kidnapped. And both countries have said that they will not negotiate with terrorists or withdraw their troops from Iraq. In the words of Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, “We will never listen to the threats of kidnappers.” Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that whether the latest kidnapping reports are accurate or not, “Our position remains that we will not alter our foreign policy, our defense policy, our security policy in response to any threat of terrorist organizations."
In recent months, Iraqi terrorist groups have taken more than one-hundred foreigners hostage. “The terrorists' goal,” says Iraq’s deputy foreign minister Hamid Beyati, “is to hamper the police work, terrorize our citizens, and show that the government is unable to protect the Iraqi people, and this will not happen.”
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.S.-led coalition will not allow those who use bombs, kidnappings, and beheadings to triumph:
“This kind of action cannot be allowed to succeed anywhere in the twenty-first century and above all, not in Iraq. And bowing to this kind of kidnapping threat only encourages it and only makes it more difficult. In these difficult times, we have to remain steadfast. And we’re so proud that the coalition partners that we have -- almost all of them -- are remaining steadfast.”
The coalition is standing with the Iraqi people as they rebuild their country and secure their freedom. “We must not be fainthearted,” says Secretary of State Powell. “We must not waver or lose patience. We must stay the course for freedom and in the face of danger.”