Bodies of slain aid workers identified

Christian Examiner staff report


KABUL, Afghanistan — The bodies of the slain aid workers in Badakhshan on August 5 have now been confirmed to be those of International Assistance Mission’s Eye Camp team.

The six Americans are being flown back to the U.S. for autopsies even though several of the families have requested the bodies be buried in Afghanistan according to the relief agency.

The families of five of the eight foreign workers have requested that the bodies be buried in Afghanistan because that is where they dedicated their life's work, said Dirk Frans, executive director of the International Assistance Mission.

Frans said that the FBI is investigating which is why the bodies are being flown to the U.S., which may take up to two weeks.

"That might not happen because the FBI is investigating and the bodies will be flown to the U.S. for autopsy," Frans said. "It might take a week or two weeks, and could throw things in a bit of disarray."

Frans confirmed the names of the 10 dead aid workers at a news conference in Kabal.

The team members included, Tom Little, 61, the team’s leader and optometrist of New York; Dan Terry, 63, from Wisconsin; Cheryl Beckett, 32, from Ohio; Brian Carderelli, 25, from Virginia; Tom Grams, 51, from Colorado; Glenn Lapp, 20, from Pennsylvania; Mahram Ali, 50, from Afghanistan; Jawed, 24, from Afghanistan; Daniela Beyer, 35, from Germany and Karen Woo from Britain.

The members of the IAM Nuristan Eye Camp team had trekked one hundred miles back through the Hindu Kush mountains, giving eye care to some of the poorest and most remote communities in Afghanistan before the brutal slaying occurred.

IAM will continue to operate in Afghanistan according to Frans  but said that the “depth of the loss will only now begin to sink in.”

Losing two of the four staff members will affect the work at the NOOR eye care and they will have a set back on their aid to the remote regions. Little, the team leader of the eye camp, was the driving force behind much of what has been achieved in eye care in Afghanistan, said Frans.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the murders alleging that the workers were trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

IAM works in Afghanistan as the guest of the people and the government and is registered in Afghanistan as a Christian organization and has never hidden that, stated Frans.

"Our faith motivates and inspires us — but we do not proselytize," he said. “God willing, we will continue to stay and serve the Afghan people.”

IAM has worked in Afghanistan since 1966. There are 500 Afghan colleagues and 50 international members. In the past 44 years, none of the Afghan colleagues had ever been killed while on duty and IAM had only lost four international staff members until August 5.


Related articles:
• Bodies of slain aid workers identified in Afghanistan
• 6 American aid workers murdered in Afghanistan
• Photos of eight of the slain workers in Afghanistan

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Published, August 2010

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