Trial for Jibla Baptist Hospital murders opens with confession
In court Sunday, Yemeni Muslim Abed Abdulrazzak Kamel not only admitted killing three American missionaries December 30. He bragged about it. "I acted out of a religious duty … and in revenge from those who converted Muslims from their religion and made them unbelievers," he said. "I am comfortable [with what I did]."

"Residents have said the American victims never discussed religion," the Associated Press reported, though friends and family say they might have done so privately.

Kamel said he was also angry with "another corruption" at the hospital: women were getting sterilized. "This is a violation of Islam," he said.

But a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, which the three Americans worked under, told Baptist Press that all sterilizations at the hospital required the written permission of both spouses. It doesn't seem that Kamel, who apparently received treatment from the hospital with his wife, was at all motivated by his experiences there as they sought help with miscarriages. His treatment there simply familiarized him with his victims.

He said he had plotted the attack with Ali al-Jarallah, who is accused of killing a local politician two days before the hospital attack. "We agreed. (Al-Jarallah) would kill seculars, and I would target Christians," he said.

Al-Jarallah's trial also began Sunday. "I had no knowledge that I would stand trial until I arrived here," he told the judge when asked for his response to the murder charges against him. " I prefer to go to the execution square."

Back in the U.S., the brother of victim Kathleen Gariety told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he wanted justice, not vengeance. "We're not going to lie awake at night waiting for vengeance and waiting for his death," said Jerome Gariety Jr. "I certainly don't want to see his death, but I do want him incarcerated for the rest of his life so he can't injure anyone else in the same way. … I certainly hope that the Yemeni government does do the right thing and not let him go. That would be the worst."

That's unlikely to happen. Yemen might be home to a lot of al Qaeda members and sympathizers ("The Saudi-born bin Laden has family ties to Yemen and is believed to have strong support here," says the AP), but the Yemeni government is eager to fight its image as Muslim Terrorist Headquarters. Today the country executed Abdullah Ali al-Nashiri, who had been convicted of killing three nuns from India and the Phillippines in 1998. An unnamed source "close to the investigation" of the Jibla Baptist Hospital murders told the AFP news service that Kamel and al-Nashiri had ties.

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Easter services and messages:

War with Iraq:

  • Bush marks Holy season by reflecting on Iraq war | President Bush, whose public expressions of faith have raised eyebrows in Europe, on Saturday mourned the loss of American lives in Iraq, saying God's purposes were "not always clear." (Reuters)

  • A congregation divided | On the war, not just a matter of practicing what I preach (Henry G. Brinton, The Washington Post)

  • German church leaders criticize Washington over war on Iraq | Easter messages focus on Bush (DPA)

  • Antiwar Protestants | The once awesome power of the late, great Protestant churches will fade away perhaps within a decade. Not because of a struggle, but because the troops will abandon the commanders whose own ambition blinded them from seeing the necessity of a regime change—their own. (Dave Berg, The Washington Times)

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  • Christians fear future more than Saddam | Christian girls wearing bright lipstick and no headscarves voiced fears that such freedoms would come to a rapid end if hardline clerics among Iraq's Shia majority impose Sharia, Islamic law, and turn the once-secular state into an Islamic republic (The Times, London)

  • Do Arab Christians have a future? | In the last 30 years, Arab Christians have attempted to weather several storms: the Lebanese war, the intifada and Israeli violence, the Iranian revolution and the resurgence of Islamic revivalism and now the war on Iraq (George Emile Irani, The Daily Star, Lebanon)

  • God doesn't take sides | What about the prayers that aren't answered (E.R. Shipp, New York Daily News)

Relief , aid, and evangelism in Iraq:

Bible and theology:

  • The meaning of Easter | In this week's email exchange, two prominent theologians offer different interpretations of the Resurrection (Brian Mountford and James Jones, The Guardian, London)

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Politics and law:

Church life:

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  • Churches within churches | When diverse congregations share a roof, they often find common ground (The Dallas Morning News)

Missions and ministry:

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