Former British Hostage Terry Waite says ‘After Paris attacks, nations must unite to beat the evil enemy’


Date:                      November 20, 2015


By Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST News Service, 

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (ANS, Nov.20, 2015) -- Former hostage Terry Waite was released by Islamist extremists 24 years ago this week. Waite, who was a special envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury, was held hostage in Lebanon for four years. He spoke out this week about the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Terry WaiteWaite was the Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, in the 1980s. As an envoy for the Church of England, he travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991. He is president of the charity Y Care International (the YMCA's international development and relief agency) and patron of AbleChildAfrica and Habitat for Humanity Great Britain. He is also president of Emmaus UK, a charity for formerly homeless people.

Writing exclusively for Britain’s ‘Mirror’ newspaper in a Nov. 19, 2015, opinion piece , Waite told the story of how, at a recent conference organized by Hostage UK, a support agency he helped found some 15 years ago, a returned hostage told a chilling story.

“He had been in captivity for several months and was worried about his wife and children back home,” Waite writes. “He expressed his concern to the leader of the group holding him. ‘I understand,’ replied the kidnapper, ‘I am a family man myself.’”

Waite says the terrorist captor then took a mobile phone from his pocket and switched it on. “There was a picture of a boy aged about 14,” said Waite. “My son,” said the terrorist. “He started the video and the boy walked away towards a target and exploded. He was in a suicide belt.”

Waites says: “How, you might ask, is it possible to negotiate with such people? The answer is: it is virtually impossible.”

Said Waite: “Videos of innocent men being beheaded are repellent, and bring many of us to the point of despair.”

Waite commented that Canon Andrew White, who served as Vicar of Baghdad until November 2014, said that “when religion goes bad, it goes really bad.”

“For the vast majority of ordinary Muslims the activities of ISIS are a perversion of their faith,” said Waite.” He asks: “If negotiating with ISIS is not a current option, what can be done? First, we have to face reality. Many months ago I said that we are now in a Third World War. It is very different from the conflicts of the past.

Terry Waite arrives home“Extreme violence such as we have seen in Turkey and Paris can erupt in any part of the world. And it will. ISIS has to be stopped, and I believe, very reluctantly, that appropriate force will have to be used.”

Waite added: “There are real dangers in bombing Syria. It may well increase extremists’ determination to engage in further terrorist activity. Our armed intervention ought to be centered on the defense of the vulnerable.”

However, warfare will not deal with the root of the issue, he says.

Waite continued: “We need to ask why young, often well-educated, men and women adopt extreme views. Part of it is they have been captured by charismatic individuals who have harnessed their discontent and youthful idealism to make them fight for what they think is a religious ideal. The recruiters play on factors that have some truth in them: our Western materialism; religious conflicts within Islam; the aggressive policies of the West in pursuing oil interests. The West, while not totally responsible for this dreadful state of affairs, has played a part in creating this chaos.”

Waite stated that when leaders of America and the United Kingdom were planning to remove Saddam Hussein, he said quite clearly: “Remove a dictator who has held people together by force and forces are released that cannot be controlled.”

“It is a matter of deep regret to me that when the Arab Spring raised its head in Syria, we in the UK did not adopt a mediating role rather than call for the removal of Assad. Better the devil you know, might be said.”

As for Guantanamo, Waite says, “that was total stupidity, and a crime to boot.”

He continued: “At last the world is recognizing that there has to be a much deeper level of co-operation between nations if this problem is to be tackled. The recent move in that direction between Mr Cameron and President Putin is to be welcomed.”

“Paris was a terrible tragedy, but it is a disgrace that thousands of innocent people have lost their lives in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. The migration crisis is a terrible result of a failed foreign policy and millions are paying the price for this,” Waite said.

“The Arab nations must get their act together in cooperative action and religious leaders of all faiths must redouble their efforts right now. Major effort needs to be directed at those supplying arms and money to ISIS. Eventually, this state of affairs will be resolved by negotiation. It may be a long way off, but it will happen. Meanwhile, the killing must stop.”

Waite said that after Ken Bigley was beheaded in Iraq in 2004, his mother said to him: “My suffering is no different than the suffering of a mother in Iraq who has lost her son through warfare.”

Waite concludes: “Compassionate words indeed, reminding us that regardless of creed, color or ethnic background, we are all members of one human family. We have a long way to go, but I am not without hope.”

Photo captions: 1) Terry Waite urges people to work together (Photo by Matt Ratcliffe via Mirror website), 2) Terry Waite on arrival in Britain after being released by his captors in Lebanon (Photo via Mirrorpix). 3) (ANS Photo)

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Michael Ireland useAbout the writer: Michael Ireland is a Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as a volunteer Internet Journalist and Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Click  to see a daily digest of Michael's stories for ANS.

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