Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Killing the messenger

Stephen Vincent published a piece in the NY Times July 31.
Stephen Vincent was assasinated forty-eight hours later.

Andrew Apostolou noticed.

Anyone else notice? Ann Althouse did. So did some others.

In his last article Vincent wrote...

...As has been widely reported of late, Basran politics (and everyday life) is increasingly coming under the control of Shiite religious groups, from the relatively mainstream Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to the bellicose followers of the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Recruited from the same population of undereducated, underemployed men who swell these organizations' ranks, many of Basra's rank-and-file police officers maintain dual loyalties to mosque and state.

In May, the city's police chief told a British newspaper that half of his 7,000-man force was affiliated with religious parties. This may have been an optimistic estimate: one young Iraqi officer told me that "75 percent of the policemen I know are with Moktada al-Sadr - he is a great man." And unfortunately, the British seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
The fact that the British are in effect strengthening the hand of Shiite organizations is not lost on Basra's residents.

An Iraqi police lieutenant, who for obvious reasons asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to me the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations - mostly of former Baath Party members - that take place in Basra each month. He told me that there is even a sort of "death car": a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment.

The news release said...

Mr Vincent had been in Basra in recent months working for the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.

In a recent New York Times article, Mr Vincent wrote that Basra's police force had been infiltrated by Shia militants.

He quoted a senior Iraqi police lieutenant saying some officers were behind many of the killings of former Baath party members in Basra.

Mr Vincent also criticised the UK forces, who are responsible for security in Basra, for ignoring abuses of power by Shia extremists.

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