Â Lingering hopes that the last hostage Alan McMenemy might still be alive have ended with the latest dispatch from unofficial negotiator, the Anglican cleric and vicar of Baghdad Canon Andrew White. After being told by the Charity Commission to cease his involvement in hostage situations, which he did as president of of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Andrew continued meeting contacts close to the hostage takers at his own behest and expense. The Charity Commission questioned whether the work of hostage negotiation was an ‘appropriate’ activity for a British charity. Andrew’s latest missive is below.
Canon Andrew White writes:
‘Sad News Update from Kurdistan 13th January 2010 Dear Friends, Greetings and Blessings from Kurdistan. I am sorry I have not been able to write for a few days but things have been more than fraught. We have been in the North for two days having a totally intensive programme. Before we came, the main item on our agenda was trying to establish what has happened to Alan. The meetings on this issue were long and hard.
‘Eventually on Sunday night we met with the people closest to the kidnappers. To be honest it was one of the most difficult and painful meetings I have ever had. It now appears clear that Alan is no longer alive. I returned to the church in tears and contacted Alan’s dear father and his wife . They are wonderful people who have become close friends. Once again all three of us were in tears. It was the worse solution possible; Alan was no more.
‘Before this terrible thing happened over two and a half years ago Alan was my friend, but since the kidnapping he has become even closer to me; every day we prayed for him and worked for his release. Please pray for his dear family. Now the work is simply trying to secure his body.’
Andrew is meanwhile continuing his stem cell treatment for MS. He had the latest on Monday, after which he headed for Kurdistan with a core team of 35 soldiers in a delegation headed by Lord Hylton. ‘We have been meeting with politicians including some very senior members of the Kurdish Regional Government,’ he writes. ‘We have also been meeting with a variety of religious leaders and visiting churches and Christian institutions. The day before yesterday we also visited two of our close friends and community of St George’s, Baghdad. Both have had members of their family killed – one their mother and the other their father. We met many of the Church leaders including Cardinal Deli the Chaldean Patriarch. We usually see him in Baghdad, but he is in Kurdistan following a recent fracture to his hip. Today we are continuing our meetings with Politicians and Religious leaders including Yesidees and Muslims. We are also going to the shrine of the prophet Nahum. We ask your prayers especially in our attempt to have the return of Alan’s body.’