James Loney spent many years working with Toronto's homeless before joining Christian Peacemaker Teams, friends say.

The 41-year-old Toronto community worker had been leading the group in Iraq before he was abducted.

"He's a deeply compassionate person. He's got a real sense of how important it is to be in solidarity and support of everybody who is in need or is marginalized," said Sarah Shepherd, a friend of Loney's for the past 10 years.

Loney is a longtime peace activist and was arrested in 1991 outside the ruling Conservative party headquarters in Toronto for protesting Canada's involvement in the Gulf war.

"Just as soldiers are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the state, as a Christian who believes in nonviolence I am prepared to make the same sacrifice for my nonviolent beliefs," Loney told the Owen Sound Sun Times in 2002 before heading to Baghdad.

"We are living in a very dark moral time, a time of lies and war and lies to justify war."