Friday, March 11, 2005

Italy, Iraq and Suicide Bombing

This week, anti-war Italians and non-Italians, the Italian government and the media had a reason to talk about Iraqi checkpoints after the killing of intelligence officer Nicola Calipari and the wounding of journalist Giuliana Sgrena by American soldiers.

First, there's no doubt this was an accident that must be fully investigated. Iraqis have tried to tell the world about similar accidents happening near checkpoints. Iraqi voices aren't well heard and - even if heard - people doubt their credibility. So, it took an accident like this to shed some light on the rules of engagement at Iraqi checkpoints.

That said, we need to talk about the root of this specific accident. Everyone knows Iraq is not a safe place for international journalists. American journalists take many precautions so they wouldn't be killed or captured by terrorists. Some international journalists may call the American journalists spoiled or other names but it's saving their lives. It's pointless to die if you can prevent it.

Giuliana Sgrena thought being an anti-war person made her immune to terrorist threats. Harald Doornbos, a veteran war reporter, wrote in an article (Via Zacht Ei):

'Be careful not to get kidnapped,' I told the female Italian journalist sitting next to me in the small plane that was headed for Baghdad. 'Oh no,' she said. 'That won't happen. We are siding with the oppressed Iraqi people. No Iraqi would kidnap us.'

It doesn't sound very nice to be critical of a fellow reporter. But Sgrena's attitude is a disgrace for journalism. Or didn't she tell me back in the plane that 'common journalists such as yourself' simply do not support the Iraqi people? 'The Americans are the biggest enemies of mankind,' the three women behind me had told me, for Sgrena traveled to Iraq with two Italian colleagues who hated the Americans as well.

'You don't understand the situation. We are anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, communists,' they said. The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers, the enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear.

But they knew better. When we arrived at Baghdad Airport, I was waiting for a jeep from the American army to come pick me up. I saw one of the Italian women walking around crying. An Iraqi had stolen her computer and television equipment. They were standing outside shivering, waiting for a cab to take them to Baghdad.

With her bias Sgrena did not only jeopardize herself, but due to her behavior a security officer is now dead, and the Italian government (prime minister Berlusconi included) has had to spend millions of euros to save her life. It is to be hoped that Sgrena will decide to have a career change. Propagandist or MP perhaps. But she should give up journalism immediately.


The Italian government denied paying ransom to the kidnappers. I don't believe their claim for one second. The ransom paid for the two Simonas a few months ago hinted to the terrorists that the Italian government negotiates with terrorists. It created a good source of money for the terrorists. It saved the Italian government from a clash with anti-war movement in Italy. Everyone was happy except the Iraqi people who die everyday because someone is handing the terrorists millions of ransom dollars for them to continue carrying out their criminal acts.

Mr. Silvio Berlusconi,

Next time you negotiate with terrorists, look at the above picture. Think of where the ransom money is going. This week, you had one state funeral in Italy. We lost 47 Iraqis who were attending a funeral. Those people who died didn't have the privilege to have their names splashed across the newspapers. They're just numbers to the rest of the world while they were dear to their loved ones.

If you're honest about helping Iraqi people then stop paying terrorists. Don't help feed the killing machine in Iraq by filling the terrorists pockets with money.

My condolences to the unnamed Iraqis who died in the latest terror act in Mosul. Your names are written on the stars.

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