On One Of Iraq’s Top Journalists Being Beheaded (UPDATED)
(NOTE TO READERS: You should still read this post BUT a LATER POST HERE will tell you that the actual victim was NOT the Iraqi journalist but a man from Nepal.)
WARNING: This Times Online piece about the merciless on-camera butchery of Atwar Bahjat in February contains a graphic description of the beheading itself. She was on one of Iraq’s top broadcast journalists.
Her death on Feb. 22 had been big international news — but it wasn’t until last week that her family got a film that showed how she was brutally slaughtered and forced to suffer until she breathed the last breath in her terrified body.
As the piece makes clear, she was also totally humiliated once she had been captured and shot. Also, when you read it, note how they made sure that she suffered excruciatingly and long during while they murdered her.
And realize, when you try to understand them, that they’d do the same thing if to you or a member of your family. And certainly any journalist who wrote for an organization that displeased them.
Some highlights of the writer’s bigger points:
As a friend of Bahjat who had worked with her on a variety of tough assignments, I found it hard enough to bear the news of her murder. When I saw it replayed, it was as if part of me had died with her. How much more gruelling it must have been for a close family friend who watched the film this weekend and cried when he heard her voice.
The friend, who cannot be identified, knew nothing of her beheading but had been guarding other horrifying details of Bahjatâ€™s ordeal. She had nine drill holes in her right arm and 10 in her left, he said. The drill had also been applied to her legs, her navel and her right eye. One can only hope that these mutilations were made after her death.
There is a wider significance to the appalling footage and the accompanying details. The film appears to show for the first time an Iraqi death squad in action.
The death squads have proliferated in recent months, spreading terror on both sides of the sectarian divide. The clothes worn by Bahjatâ€™s killers are bound to be scrutinised for clues to their identity.
Bahjat, with her professionalism and impartiality as a half-Shiâ€™ite, half-Sunni, would have been the first to warn against any hasty conclusions, however. The uniforms seem to be those of the Iraqi National Guard but that does not mean she was murdered by guardsmen. The fatigues could have been stolen for disguise.
It’s still uncertain who killed her — but the style is clear:
A source linked to the Sunni insurgency who supplied the film to The Sunday Times in London claimed it had come from a mobile phone found on the body of a Shiâ€™ite Badr Brigade member killed during fighting in Baghdad.
But there is no evidence the Iranian-backed Badr militia was responsible. Indeed, there are conflicting indications. The drill is said to be a popular tool of torture with the Badr Brigade. But beheading is a hallmark of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by the Sunni Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
According to a report that was circulating after Bahjatâ€™s murder, she had enraged the Shiâ€™ite militias during her coverage of the bombing of the Samarra shrine by filming the interior minister, Bayan Jabr, ordering police to release two Iranians they had arrested.
Yet, there is no confirmation — but something IS indeed confirmed:
We may never know who killed Bahjat or why. But the manner of her death testifies to the breakdown of law, order and justice that she so bravely highlighted and illustrates the importance of a cause she espoused with passion.
Bahjat advocated the unity of Iraq and saw her golden locket as a symbol of her belief. She put it with her customary on-air eloquence on the last day of her life: â€œWhether you are a Sunni, a Shiâ€™ite or a Kurd, there is no difference between Iraqis united in fear for this nation.â€?
Her death remains a horror story — in more ways than one.
SOME OTHERS COMMENTING ON THIS TIME ARTICLE INCLUDE:
Anyone who thinks that God’s greatness is established by such acts of barbaric cruelty must be resisted at all costs. Yet those who hold to the same ideology, and who think that God Himself will grant Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Him (Qur’an 9:111), are streaming into Western countries, by the design and forethought of Western leaders, with no attempt whatsoever made to determine whether or not they approve of such slaughters and the ideology that motivates them. This is insane.
The author, Hala Jaber, draws a few conclusions that I don’t fully agree with. He blames this on death squads and sectarian strife. But killings like these exactly follow the strategy al Qaeda has been following all along. They are trying to provoke civil war and sectarian violence. So these murderous monsters may not even really be Iraqi at all. There are a lot of conflicting facts listed in the story that point to both Sunni and Shi’ite elements. That makes me suspect it is really neither of those, but agents trying to provoke the two sides.
In truth, it represents a depth of depravity achieved over centuries. From the description, her killers hadn’t just conceived or improvised their method execution on the spot – they seem to have been well practiced. But such is the nature of the enemy in this war, and perhaps this is their most sacred and well honed knowledge: if a brutality can be inflicted that exceeds all human ability to comprehend, the humans will find a way to deny it. Or excuse it. Or simply look the other way.
—Ed Morrissey has a must-read analysis but here’s a particularly interesting part:
We need more people like Bahjat, courageous men and women who do their best to inform us of the Iraqi situation. We need people like Michael Yon, Stephen Vincent, and Jill Carroll — men and women willing to risk their lives and on occasion give them in order to give us the information we need. They provide a much-needed contrast between the civilized world and the world that these terrorists plan for us if these sick murderers succeed in their fight.