KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 9, 2010

Slayings Won't Deter Afghan Mission, Group Says

International Assistance Mission Denies Charges of Trying to Convert Muslims to Christianity; Final Two Murder Victims ID'd

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    • Tom Little, an optometrist from Delmar, N.Y. is seen at the far right of this photo taken at the NOOR Eye Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2006. Little was one of 10 medical workers, including six Americans, killed in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan August 7, 2010.

      Tom Little, an optometrist from Delmar, N.Y. is seen at the far right of this photo taken at the NOOR Eye Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2006. Little was one of 10 medical workers, including six Americans, killed in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan August 7, 2010.  (CBS)

    • Director Dirk Frans is photographed at the Kabul office of the International Assistance Mission, Aug. 7, 2010.

      Director Dirk Frans is photographed at the Kabul office of the International Assistance Mission, Aug. 7, 2010.  (AP Photo/Ahmad Massoud)

    •  (CBS)

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(CBS/AP)  A Christian charity said Monday it had no plans to leave Afghanistan despite the murders of 10 members of its medical aid team and repeated that the organization does not attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity.

The 10 members - six Americans, two Afghans, one Briton and a German - were gunned down Thursday after they were accosted by gunmen after finishing a two-week mission providing medical care to impoverished villagers in Nuristan province. The Taliban have claimed responsibility and alleged the group were spies and tried to convert Muslims.

CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports early examinations suggest most were killed execution-style. However at least one was shot in the back, perhaps during an attempt to run away.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Afghanistan

During a press conference Monday, the International Assistance Mission, a Kabul-based charity that organized the trip, released the names of the last two victims. They were Brian Carderelli of Harrisonburg, Va., and Daniela Beyer of Chemnitz, Germany. German media say she was a 35-year-old translator.

"We want to pay tribute to each of our colleagues who died, to their commitment to serve the Afghan people," said IAM director Dirk Frans. "Those who have known them and seen them at work can do nothing but pay the highest tribute to them."

Frans displayed an Afghan government document granting the team permission to treat people in the remote Parun valley for eye diseases and insisted there was no attempt to preach Christianity.

"Our faith motivates and inspires us - but we do not proselytize," he said. Frans said it was likely that members of the group were carrying personal Bibles in English and German but not in Afghan languages as alleged by the Taliban.

Frans said the organization had worked in Afghanistan for four decades and had no plans to leave. Of the eight foreigners, families of five have requested burials in Afghanistan, Frans said. The bodies are being flown back to the U.S. for FBI autopsies and returned to Kabul later for burial.

But Frans acknowledged that the losses left the organization "devastated."

Team leader Tom Little of Delmar, New York, had worked in Afghanistan since the late 1970s and was the "driving force" in the group's efforts to expand vision care in the country. Fluent in the Afghan language Dari, Little and his wife raised three daughters in Kabul despite political turmoil and a bloody civil war.

"He is irreplaceable," Frans said.

The bodies were flown from northern Afghanistan back to Kabul by helicopter Sunday along with the lone survivor of the attack, an Afghan driver who said he was spared because he was a Muslim and recited Islamic holy verses as he begged for his life. The IAM said the driver had been a trusted employee with four years of service.

Police said they don't know if he is a witness or an accomplice in the killings.

"We are heartbroken by the loss of these heroic, generous people," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington. She condemned the Taliban for the deaths and what she called a "transparent attempt to justify the unjustifiable by making false accusations about their activities."

Among the victims was Dan Terry, 64, who had lived in Afghanistan since 1980 with his wife, rearing three daughters while working with impoverished ethnic groups.

Others had made financial sacrifices to come here.

Dr. Thomas Grams, 51, quit his dental practice in Durango, Colorado, four years ago to work full-time giving poor children free dental care in Afghanistan and Nepal. His twin brother, Tim, said Grams wasn't trying to spread religious views.

"He knew the laws, he knew the religion. He respected them. He was not trying to convert anybody," Tim Grams said, holding back tears in a telephone call from Anchorage, Alaska. "His goal was to provide dental care and help people."

Khris Nedam, head of a charity called Kids 4 Afghan Kids that builds schools and wells, said Grams and the others were "serving the least for all the right reasons."

"The kids had never seen toothbrushes, and Tom brought thousands of them," Nedam said Sunday. "He trained them how to brush their teeth, and you should've seen the way they smiled after they learned to brush their teeth."

Nedam said the medical group had never talked of religion with Afghans.

"Their mission was humanitarian, and they went there to help people," said Nedam, a third-grade teacher from Livonia, Michigan.

Dr. Karen Woo, 36, the lone Briton among the dead, gave up her job with a private clinic in London to work in Afghanistan. She was planning to leave in a few weeks to get married, friends said.

"Her motivation was purely humanitarian. She was a humanist and had no religious or political agenda," her family said in a statement.

Another victim, Glen Lapp, 40, a trained nurse from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had come to Afghanistan in 2008 for a limited assignment but decided to stay, serving as an executive assistant at IAM and manager of its provincial eye care program, according to the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief group based in Akron, Pennsylvania.

"Where I was, the main thing that expats can do is to be a presence in the country," Lapp wrote in a recent report to the Mennonite group. "... Treating people with respect and with love."

Cheryl Beckett, the 32-year-old daughter of a Knoxville, Tennessee, pastor, had spent six years in Afghanistan and specialized in nutritional gardening and mother-child health, her family said. Beckett, who was her high school valedictorian at a Cincinnati-area high school and held a biology degree, had also spent time doing work in Honduras, Mexico, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

"Cheryl ... denied herself many freedoms in order to abide by Afghan law and custom," her family said.

The group's attackers, her family said, "should feel the utter shame and disgust that humanity feels for them."

Elsewhere, an American service member was killed Monday in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, and an Afghan child was shot dead the day before during a gunbattle between NATO forces and insurgents in Kunar province in the east, the alliance said.

NATO did not provide further details on the death of the American.

Sunday's fighting in eastern Kunar province started when militants attacked a small U.S. base in Watahpur district, according to Maj. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the coalition.

Insurgents fired on the outpost and soldiers saw the rounds hit two children nearby, killing one and wounding the other, Johnson said.

NATO also announced that a German unmanned surveillance aircraft crashed Monday in Kunduz province. The statement said the aircraft lost altitude due to technical problems and was destroyed on impact.

The drone can provide battlefield imagery as well as target data.

© MMX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Add a Comment See all 83 Comments
by August 11, 2010 11:37 PM EDT
There are hundreds if not more, places on earth where the talents of these
folks were needed and would have been appreciated. It isn't necessary to
go to the most dangerous regions of the earth if you wish to help people.
Some are in your own back yard. Goodwill, volunteerism and philanthropy
will not accomplish much without a good tank of common sense.
Reply to this comment
by gosstom August 10, 2010 4:08 AM EDT
Several years ago, a man and his lady decided to live and interact with Grizzley Bears in Alaska...They survived about two weeks before becoming a snack for the animals...Happily, they left no offspring so their stupid genes didn't enter the system..Unfortunately, these losers have kids...Go figure...
Reply to this comment
by thesevenveils August 9, 2010 5:33 PM EDT
Here is a prime example of the ruthless judge jury and executioner syndrome held by Taliban. Until someone makes it clear that they are not doing their Gods work this type of horror will be witnessed by Afghan, Pakistanis and everyone else who do not bow to their terror.

And now name the world leaders who have make or are working to make peace agreements with these dogs.
Reply to this comment
by thanksgreed August 9, 2010 6:13 PM EDT
wouldn't have happened if they stayed here and helped their own country.
by Brokennews August 9, 2010 4:57 PM EDT
Death begets death. Life begets life. Too many people on this board are taking a lesson from the deaths of these aid workers, when they should be taking a lesson from their lives.

by uubrew12 August 9, 2010 2:00 PM EDT

Ahh death. The eternal blink. The capricious dance of Now You Stop Moving Forever. Well, contrary to popular belief, death isn't just for dead people. It can happen to anyone. I know, it's news to me too!!
Reply to this comment
by thesevenveils August 9, 2010 5:30 PM EDT
The Dead can Dance.
by geoguy53 August 9, 2010 1:41 PM EDT
The sooner mankind accepts the fact that there is no god, the sooner mankind will enjoy peace on this planet.
Reply to this comment
by Lawyers-Guns-n-Money06 August 9, 2010 2:01 PM EDT
Meh, we'd find something to replace religion in order to kill each other. Face it, we kill... a lot. And we're so good at it.
by starving1968-3 August 9, 2010 1:38 PM EDT
by infantryman1968 August 9, 2010 12:28 PM EDT

The enemy charges anyone who is a non-muslim with trying to convert to Christianity the same way the Atheists in America do.

Where did you get this from?

Source of this information can be found..... where exactly?
Reply to this comment
by jnostromo August 9, 2010 2:51 PM EDT
talk to soldiers who have been over there...they have first hand experience with the vermin
by formrusmcsgt August 9, 2010 1:38 PM EDT
The fact that it's a "Christian" charity makes me think proselytizing more than likely WAS going on.

Should that be a capital offense? No.

But the whole "missionary" thing is designed to foster an exchange - "help" for "conversion" in exchange.

Going into a Muslim nation and trying to "convert" the population isn't very smart, if that's what in fact occurred.....
Reply to this comment
by markenriquez71 August 9, 2010 3:03 PM EDT
just going there period isn't very smart, you won't see me volunteering to go to the middle east anytime soon, oh, i meant ever
by chuckt1234567 August 9, 2010 1:38 PM EDT
we'll sit by and do nothing, Maybe let them put up a mosque around ground zero, oops wait their already doing that.
Could you think of the implications if christians had murdered one muslim around here like that. There would be retaliation all over the world.
Reply to this comment
by Lawyers-Guns-n-Money06 August 9, 2010 2:03 PM EDT
Shoot, all you have to do to irk the nutbags is draw a silly picture of their prophet.
by jnostromo August 9, 2010 2:17 PM EDT
that is why we are "infidels"..we cannot imagine their insanity...CNN has reported that the taliban in kabul executed a pregnant widow for adultery...how civilized they are...take all the muslim women away from the muslim countries and let the male muslim hogs go extinct...
by scoutsout80 August 9, 2010 1:38 PM EDT
here is your sign liberals as to why we need to prevent the taliban from returning to power
Reply to this comment
by jnostromo August 9, 2010 1:59 PM EDT
it is a sign as to why they need to be wiped from the face of the earth...but liberals don't have the stomach for it..they would rather turn the other cheek in the home that these people can be reasoned with...The only thing these people respect is violence..eradication is a must...they are a cancer loose in the world that must be cut out to save humanity.
by book_of_wally August 9, 2010 1:38 PM EDT
Thats silly, it would certainly deter me from going.
Reply to this comment
by thesevenveils August 9, 2010 5:36 PM EDT
fixing some poor persons cavity in the middle of a hate land waiting to sepreate my head from my neck is just crazy.

Especially when there are adults and children that suffer just as much right her in the good 'ol US of A. Don't try to hide that this is a ministry effort.
See all 83 Comments
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