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Va. Man Foresaw Dangers In Iraq

In this undated photo released by Christian Peacemaker Teams, Tom Fox, right, attends a protest in the West Bank.
In this undated photo released by Christian Peacemaker Teams, Tom Fox, right, attends a protest in the West Bank. (Nasser Shiyoukhi -- Associated Press)

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By Timothy Dwyer and Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 1, 2005

As Tom Fox headed toward the end of his first week in captivity in Iraq, friends said the 54-year-old musician and peace activist was well aware of the dangers he faced in the war-ravaged country.

He was so realistic, in fact, that he devised a written plan he distributed to friends and co-workers that they should follow if he were taken hostage. Don't pay ransom for his return, he wrote in an October 2004 e-mail, and reject the use of violence in trying to win his freedom. Don't "vilify" the abductors, he said, but instead "try to understand the motives of their actions."

Fox was kidnapped Saturday as he and three colleagues with a North America-based peace group were on their way to a meeting with a Muslim leader in which they planned to represent the families of imprisoned Iraqis, according to a former teacher in close touch with Fox.

Yesterday, there were no new communications from the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which took responsibility for the kidnapping of Fox and his three co-workers, all of them members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, an antiwar organization with offices in Chicago and Toronto.

"We are very worried about our four friends," Christian Peacemaker Teams said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. "We fear that whoever is holding them has made a mistake. [They] are four men who came to Iraq to work for peace and explain their opposition to the occupation. They are not spies."

Last night, about 75 people gathered at a worship service for Fox and the other captives at the Langley Hill Friends Meeting in McLean, where Fox is a longtime member. Services also were held in Winchester, Va., and at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., where Fox took classes before going to Iraq.

At the service in McLean, where Fox's e-mail from 2004 was read aloud, his friends reminisced about his ideals. One woman said that just before Fox left for Iraq, he told her, "Too many are willing to die for war and too few are willing to die for peace."

Although worried friends talked about him in careful terms, saying they feared something they might say could endanger him, they all focused on his love of peace and his fierce dedication to its principles.

"Tom wades in. He doesn't stand at the side," said Lauri Perman, who has known Fox for 15 years. "Making peace for him is not a matter of staying safe. He goes where the need is."

Maj. Douglas Powell, a spokesman for the U.S. Marines, refused to comment on Fox or his record with the Marine Corps. "We will not disclose any information about any hostage," he said.

Fox was born in Chattanooga and graduated with a double degree in music performance and education from George Peabody College for Teachers, now part of Vanderbilt University, in Nashville. An accomplished clarinetist, he spent 20 years playing with the Marine Corps Band, most of that time in the Washington area, said a friend who did not want to be named. As a band member, the friend said, Fox was not required to undergo basic training.

He has two college-age children. His friend described him as "the most loving father anyone could be."


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