Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Howard blames the Filipinos and Spanish for Australian hostage crisis

I must confess that I find this story rather gripping: two "ghost" Australian hostages—unnamed and who may or may not have been kidnapped—and a national election scheduled for October 9 that pits a pro-war Prime Minister vs. an anti-war challenger.

Australia has sent negotiators who do not intend to negotiate.

Mr Downer [Australia's Foreign Minister] confirmed that part of the plan was to have hostage negotiators on standby, but said that did not mean the government would negotiate with terrorists.

Whether anyone was kidnapped, John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, hopes to avoid any suggestion that the cause of the kidnappings is Australia's involvement in Iraq and cooperation with the Americans. He is currently blaming "evil" and the Philippine and Spanish governments.

Mr Howard said a group which called itself the Horror Brigades of the Islamic Secret Army was "crazy enough and evil enough, more importantly evil enough, to do something like this".

He also said the decisions by Spain and the Philippines to withdraw their troops from Iraq after having terrorist attacks committed against them encouraged more attacks by terrorists.

"There's no doubt that if terrorists think they can get a reaction by doing something they'll do it again, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"I don't want to go back over old ground in relation to Spain and the Philippines, but the truth is you do not buy immunity from conduct of this kind by giving in.

"That is why we were unhappy about what happened both in relation to Spain and the Philippines."

Follow-up posts:
Australian kidnapping update
Australian kidnapping update II
Australian kidnapping update III: The body in the Tigris

Previous posts:
Two hostages and an election
Deadline has passed for Australian hostages

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