Yup, it's a mess. I just watched a BBC documentary about hostage taking in Iraq. It had interviews with some of the hostages themselves (unfortunately I can't remember all their names) and their relatives; how it affected them, their thoughts on the war, etc.
The conclusion was that most of the hostages taken are political pawns; there's no 'ransom', and it appears the groups doing them are a lot more organised than they appear. Usually the decision whether they live or die has already been taken beforehand, and the taped videomessages are carefully orchestrated as to when they appear, and what message they carry. They're there to both demotivate and cause outrage among the american/EU public and at the same time send a clear message to the iraqi people; 'we have control and we're here to stay'. They monitor both foreign television and the internet very carefully as to the world's reaction and influence on public opinion.
The point of my rant: as mentioned in the documentary, the hostage takers/terrorist groups actually thrive on the iraqi conflict. They were happy Bush was still in power as it continued the conflict which in turn strenghtened their hold and influence over the population.
The conflict seems to have instilled an 'us versus them' motto in which anyone collaborating with 'the enemy' is a valid target; the hostages also included two iraqi's who worked for a foreign aid organisation.
Apparently since the invasion started there have been over 270 hostages taken.
I'm sorry, but this just doesn't rhyme with the 'we're bringing freedom and democracy' mantra that I witnessed 10 minutes later on CNN.
I'm fortunate to live in a country that has not (yet, at least) been hit by a major terrorist strike. But at the same time I have a hard time believing/understanding that there are people who truly feel safer because of the situation in Iraq. To my mind, nothing regarding 9/11 has been solved in that conflict. If anything, it has caused more dissenting voices towards the west and western culture, something even noticeable in a small country like mine. Last year, a prominent dutch filmmaker was brutally murdered on the street by a muslim extremist. He had made a film that criticised muslim beliefs. I think that a conflict like the one in Iraq and 9/11 signify a rift between the west and the east. The more extreme our reaction (like starting a preemptive war), the more extreme the response will be.
Although the dutch filmmaker's movie would have caused an outrage at any time, I think his murder is a sign of the times.
This was something also reflected in the BBC documentary; the fate of the hostages mirrored what the hostage takers saw in the brutality of the war.
I can't see this ending any time soon at the rate which the west (and esp. Bush) is going...