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No End Can Justify This Cruelty : Yet another hostage’s body is dumped along a road

Their logic goes something like this:

A state of war exists between Israel and Islam. The West, especially the United States, is Israel’s ally. Therefore, a state of war exists between the West and Islam.

Such, apparently, is the reasoning of those who have captured, often tortured and sometimes killed Western hostages.

If hostage-taking is a dirty business for one, they ask, why isn’t it a dirty business for all? Why was there no outcry over the kidnaping of Shiite cleric Sheik Abdel Karim Obeid by Israeli commandos in 1989? Didn’t the Israelis want the sheik as a bargaining chip to trade for Israelis in Muslim hands?

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Hostage-trading is indeed a dirty business. In 1987, militants offered the dead body of CIA station chief William Buckley in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Israel declined. In 1989 Israel offered Obeid for Israeli prisoners. The militants declined.

Revenge is also a dirty business. The militants executed U.S. Lt. Col. William Higgins in declared retaliation for the same 1989 Obeid abduction, but reports placed Higgins’ execution much earlier. Peter Kilburn, librarian at the American University in Beirut for 20 years, was executed in April, 1986, again in declared retaliation, this time for the U.S. attack on Libya. But Kilburn was kidnaped two years before that raid. Buckley too, allegedly executed after the American complicity in Israel’s 1985 bombing of PLO headquarters in Tunis, was almost certainly tortured to death in retaliation.

The dirtiest part of the business, however, is what we witnessed once again Friday. If Sheik Obeid were to die in Israeli custody, his body would not be dumped along a roadside with an anonymous phone tip to the United Nations, as were the bodies of all three of the hostages mentioned above. Buckley’s body was dumped Friday, Higgins’ last week, Kilburn’s in 1986--along with those of two Britons executed because American bombers took off from their country.

Desecration of the dead disgraces any religion. Any such action warrants public repudiation. The great religion of Islam is far better than this. No end can possibly justify these cruel means.

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