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Afghan trial delayed indefinitely for 2 U.S. women; bombing cited

ISALAMABAD, Pakistan (BP)–The trial of two American women in Afghanistan has been postponed indefinitely, leaving their families and supporters wondering what will happen next.

“We just have to wait and see,” Danny Mulkey of Antioch Community Church said in an interview from Pakistan on Oct. 24, a day after Reuters News Service reported the delay. “It’s crazy. Nobody knows what happens next.”

Dayna Curry, 29, and Heather Mercer, 24, are among eight foreign aid workers with German-based Shelter Now arrested Aug. 3 for allegedly sharing their Christian faith. They are being held in a jail in the capital of Kabul.

Reuters reported that the group’s director, Georg Taubmann, denied the charges in a September court appearance, insisting they had not converted a single Afghan Muslim.

On Oct. 23, Reuters reported that the detainees’ attorney, Atif Ali Khan of Pakistan, said Afghanistan’s supreme court cannot hold regular sessions because of the chaos caused by U.S. air strikes against the country.

All eight were able to speak to their families by telephone recently; Mulkey said all are doing well. Besides the two Americans, the other foreign defendants are from Germany and Australia.

“They’re fine,” said Mulkey, assistant pastor of the Waco, Texas, church. “I talked to Dayna’s mother [Nancy Cassell] and she’s doing well. I talked to the lawyer today and he says they’re all doing well. But now, we don’t know if the [U.S., German and Australian] governments start appealing to the Afghan government or what.”

During his seven weeks in Pakistan, Mulkey said he has learned to deal with frustration on more than one level. Things don’t happen in another culture like one expects them to, he said.

However, after a while he learned to accept what happens and move on, he added. And, while he knows that Curry and Mercer — both Baylor University graduates — have been through ups and downs, he said they aren’t upset about the latest delay.

“They’re saying, ‘Lord, it’s up to you,'” Mulkey said. “That’s the same thing we’re saying here. You hit a little brick of wall of disappointment now and then, but then you go to the Lord, express disappointment and realize it’s in his hands.

“My response has been, ‘Okay, Lord, the trial didn’t work, so what’s next?’ This didn’t take God by surprise, so I say, ‘Lord, I can’t see how you’re going to pull this off but you’re still in control.'”

The women are still reported to be safe amid the bombing. Mulkey said he hadn’t received any further information since a week earlier, when he learned the nearest bombing targets were approximately 2.5 miles from the jail where the women are being held.

While Mulkey had been hoping for a resolution of the case during the previous weekend, he asked that prayer supporters not relax their efforts.

“When things get dragged out, the tendency of people everywhere is to let up,” Mulkey said. “My request is that they press in. Pray more, not less, and see what God does.”

He also asked for prayer for encouragement for the detainees as well as their parents and family members. When they experience a “bump in the road,” discouragement can set in, he said.

The news of the trial’s delay comes against word of continued fierce fighting in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reported Oct. 24 that 22 members of an anti-American militant Pakistani group were killed during a U.S. attack on Kabul. The AP said it was the deadliest known strike against a group linked to Osama bin Laden since the air campaign began Oct. 7.

The 22 militants were members of the Harkat ul-Mujahedeen (“Movement of Holy Warriors”), which was declared a terrorist organization years ago by the United States. They were meeting in a house that was struck by a U.S. bomb.

The news service also reported that U.S. jets continue to pound Kabul with bombs day and night, with huge explosions in the direction of Taliban military sites on the city’s outskirts.

Despite the fighting in Afghanistan, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Oct. 23 that the war on terrorism will likely cause more casualties here than among troops overseas.

Speaking to the International Republican Institute, which awarded him and his wife, Lynne, the 2001 Freedom Award, Cheney said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America had put the nation on notice that the enemy is resourceful and ruthless.

“We have to assume there will be more attacks,” he said, Reuters reported. “In this conflict, for the first time in our history, we will probably suffer more casualties here at home than will our forces overseas.”

Commenting on the irony of people worrying about their safety in Asia while anthrax attacks are spreading fear in this country, Mulkey said Americans tend to be ethnocentric and think the world revolves around them.

“The perception is usually that things are crazy in that other part of the world, wherever that is,” Mulkey said.

“My prayer is that this is a wakeup call to Christians, and to nominal Christians. You can’t put your faith in a country or a social system, because it’s got cracks. Your faith must be in God.”

    About the Author

  • Ken Walker