As this kidnapping draws out I am reminded of the Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers song that says "the waiting is the hardest part." We fill our days with work - important work - but work that helps us avoid the waiting. If we stop and wait we grow restless, even edgy.

What we are currently experiencing here in Iraq is nothing new.  Iraqis civilians are kidnapped often. Almost every Iraqi knows someone who has been kidnapped. The day before the abduction of our colleagues, Jim, Harmeet, Norman and I visited a Chaldean church where we met a 17 year old who was kidnapped a year ago. His kidnappers held him for several weeks. They didn't know him; they only wanted money from his family. He told us they treated him well.

Recently, I was in a police station. While I sat there, a man walked in and asked how many kidnappings the police were familiar with in 2005. "I couldn't tell you the real number," the police officer said. "There are too many. It is too high." After some questions and guess work the officer behind the desk concluded he was familiar with around three hundred cases. And these are just the ones that people reported to the police in his designated area of Baghdad.

Many families do not say anything when one of their kin is abducted.  They choose to deal with it as quickly and quietly as they can.

How often do those of us outside of Iraq hear about kidnapped Iraqis? Very rarely. In the news we hear about the bombs and ambushes. We hear about the assassinations of political and religious leaders and the fighting in Anbar province, but we rarely hear anything about the many Iraqis held hostage.

And what about the innocent Iraqis arrested in sweeps by Multinational Forces or Iraqi Security Forces? If they are innocent yet still have to sit in jail, isn't that similar to a kidnapping?  Just because governments do it with a "legal" force while others do it as criminals, doesn't change the circumstance for the people that are taken. We have witnesses that prisoners in the custody of the Multinational Forces and Iraqi security forces can be tortured and killed. How is that different than what criminal kidnappers are capable of doing?

In the past few weeks we have taken a lot of cues from our Iraqi friends. They are more experienced, and we are in Iraq. Our Iraqi friends have told us how to word letters or statements, how to talk to the local press and how to find the ear of people of influence. 

If we in CPT have received a lot of press over our kidnapped colleagues, it is only because we are foreigners. It is disturbing that CPT's personal tragedy outshines the more frequent abductions of Iraqi civilians but in the end, it doesn't matter if you are Iraqi or a foreigner, the waiting is still the hardest part. 

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical violence-reduction program with roots in the historic peace churches.  Teams of trained peace workers live in areas of lethal conflict around the world.  CPT has been present in Iraq since October, 2002.  To learn more about CPT, please visit  Photos of our projects may be viewed at Donate to CPT Iraq and our other CPT projects on-line with your credit card!  Go to  and click the DONATE button to make a contribution through Network for Good, a secure way to help support CPT.