Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Basra blogger is abducted and murdered

Times Online reported A freelance American journalist who wrote about alleged corruption and lawlessness in the Iraqi city of Basra has been abducted at gunpoint and shot dead. Steven Vincent's body was recovered at the side of a road south of Basra late last night, several hours after he and his female translator were kidnapped as they left a currency exchange shop, within sight of a British military checkpoint. There is speculation that Mr Vincent, who received death threats, was murdered in an attempt to silence him. Four days before his death he had written an opinion piece in The New York Times in which he said that the police force in the British-controlled city had been infiltrated by Shia Muslim extremist militias, who were responsible for carrying out hundreds of murders of prominent Sunni Muslims. He criticised the British, whose 8,000 troops in the area are responsible for security in Basra, for turning a blind eye to abuses of power by Shia extremists. The whole city was "increasingly coming under the control of Shia religious groups, from the relatively mainstream... to the bellicose followers of the rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr".

Steven Vincent, was murdered in Basra hours after this was published. A piece of his on Islamists there appeared in a recent New York Times Op-Ed, "Switched off in Basra"

Real security reform requires psychological as well as physical training. Unless the British include in their security sector reform strategy some basic lessons in democratic principles, Basra risks falling further under the sway of Islamic extremists and their Western-trained police enforcers.
(and subsequently the International Herald Tribune) this past weekend.

Arthur Chrenkoff blogged Steve had a successful and rewarding career as an art critic in New York. Then came September 11, and his life would never be the same again. "When the Administration launched the Operation Iraqi freedom, I felt strangely excited," he wrote. "I wanted to join the conflict." Too old to enlist (his only military experience, driving a cab in NYC, he says), too freelance to hope to accompany the troops, Steve made the decision to see Iraq away from the frontlines: "I sought to embed myself in the Iraqi society.".... Allah willed that he came back to the land between the rivers that fascinated him and captured his imagination. Some cowardly bastards didn't. I don't know whether the "insurgents" who murdered Steve, knew who they were killing - that wouldn't surprise me - or if they merely kidnapped a random Westerner who was hanging out with an Iraqi woman. Maybe there were just criminals, maybe they were neo-Baathists, or maybe Shia extremists..... The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists "“the resistance."” What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers--the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour - they are the "“resistance."” They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism - —or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought - —should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language.

Arthur also has a lot of other good information on Steven, and a number of other links to other bloggers commenting on this subject

Mary Madigan blogged Steven Vincent was murdered yesterday in Basra by what the police call "unknown gunmen". Many condolences to his family. Judith Weiss has more at Kesher Talk, including a link to an interview with Vincent. The more I read of Vincent's work, the more I learn about what was lost.

James Joyner blogged Vincent's case is an altogether different matter, though. He was not collateral damage in a firefight but rather a targetted victim. That makes his death an outrage in addition to a tragedy.

James has several news stories and links to a number of bloggers commenting on Vincent's loss

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