Just a place to sort this stuff all out, for myself, both inter-related facts of the actual incidents, and history and meaning, and even Sontag/PoMo-style ruminations. Using this as a place to plop stuff of interest. Feel free to add.

REUTERS via New York Times

June 23, 2004
Afghans Behead 4 Taliban

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, June 22 (Reuters) — Afghan soldiers have beheaded four Taliban fighters in retaliation for the Taliban’s beheading of an Afghan soldier and an Afghan interpreter for American-led forces, a government commander said Tuesday.

The soldier and the interpreter were beheaded after becoming separated from a patrol of Afghan and American-led foreign troops in the Arghandab district of the southern province of Zabul on Monday night, Namatullah Tokhi, commander of the government’s 27th Division in the province, said in an interview.

He said government troops later captured and killed four Taliban guerrillas in the same way.

“They cut off their heads with a knife,” he said of the Taliban action, “so when our forces arrested four Taliban, we cut off their heads too.”

Zabul and adjoining southern provinces have been the battleground for deadly clashes between Taliban guerrillas and American-led and government forces since the Taliban were overthrown in late 2001.

Taliban fighters have beheaded government soldiers in the past, but this is the first publicly disclosed time that government forces have retaliated in the same manner, an escalation of a conflict that has claimed hundreds.

The Taliban and their Islamic militant allies, including Al Qaeda, have declared a holy war against American-led forces and consider foreign and local aid workers legitimate targets as well as foreign and government soldiers and officials.

The guerrillas have vowed to disrupt elections planned for September.

In late May, soldiers from the 20,000-member American-led force in Afghanistan began a sweeping campaign against the militants in southern provinces, including Zabul, to improve conditions for the elections.


Nick Berg Video and Follow-up;action=display;threadid=19384


Search stories for Paul Johnson as a phrase



Search stories for Kim Sun as a phrase


New York Times

June 23, 2004
South Korean Is Killed in Iraq by His Captors

Associated Press
Kim Jong-kyu, right, and Shin Young-ja, parents of Kim Sun-il who was kidnapped in Iraq, react after hearing that their son had been killed, at their home in Busan, southern South Korea.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 23 — A South Korean interpreter who dreamed of becoming a Christian missionary in the Arab world was beheaded Tuesday by the insurgents who held him captive after his abduction five days ago near Falluja.

The execution was carried out after the South Korean government rejected the captors’ demand that it halt the scheduled deployment of an additional 3,000 troops to Iraq in August. A videotape broadcast on Al Jazeera television showed the victim, Kim Sun Il, sitting or kneeling quietly in an orange jumpsuit and blindfolded with an orange cloth. Five masked men, three cradling guns and one with a sheathed knife, stand behind him.

“Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis but for cursed America,” one of the men says.

Al Jazeera, which did not show the killing, reported that the men then beheaded Mr. Kim. The killers were believed to be members of a group called Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, which is linked to the Jordanian terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Central Intelligence Agency has said Mr. Zarqawi was the man seen beheading Nicholas Berg, an American who had been kidnapped, on a tape circulated on the Internet.

Hours later, the United States military carried out an airstrike in Falluja on what a general called a “known Zarqawi network” safe house. Four people were killed and six wounded, according to witnesses and a hospital official.

In a televised address today, the president of South Korea, Roh Moo Hyun, called the slaying a crime against humanity. He condemned terrorism, vowing “to deal sternly with it together with the international community,” according to The Associated Press.

“When we think of his desperate appeals for life, our hearts are wrenched with grief,” Mr. Roh said.

President Bush said Mr. Kim’s beheading was another futile effort to drive the United States and its allies out of the country. “They want us to cower in the face of their brutal killings,” he said, “and the United States will not be intimidated by these people.”

This was the third beheading in the Middle East in the last several weeks. Last Friday, Saudi members of a cell suspected of being linked to Al Qaeda decapitated Paul M. Johnson Jr., an abducted American engineer. Mr. Berg was killed last month.

American soldiers found the body of Mr. Kim, 33, between Baghdad and Falluja, the volatile Sunni city 35 miles west of the capital. “It appears that the body had been thrown from a vehicle,” Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman for the occupation forces, said Tuesday in a statement to The Associated Press. “The man had been beheaded, and the head was recovered with the body.”

Today, Islamist militants threatened to assassinate Iraq’s interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, just hours after they said they had beheaded the South Korean hostage. “As for you, Allawi — sorry, the democratically elected prime minister — we have found for you a useful poison and a sure sword,” said a taped voice, said to be that of Mr. Zarqawi, on an Islamist Web site, according to Reuters.

In southern Iraq, one of two great pipelines began flowing with oil again after a pair of explosions shut down oil exports last week. Investigators were focusing on current and former employees of the state-owned South Oil Company who may have given inside information to the saboteurs, government officials and engineers at the company said Tuesday.

But as oil began flowing in the south, a huge new explosion ripped through a pipeline running from Bayji to a key refinery in Baghdad. Plumes of dark smoke rose above the blast, 20 miles north of Baghdad.

The devastating effect of the two southern explosions, which were placed with surgical precision amid the welter of buried gas, water, oil and petrochemical pipelines crisscrossing the open desert, immediately raised suspicions that someone inside the company was involved.

“That’s very likely and very possible,” said Walid Khadduri, an Iraqi who is the editor of the Middle Eastern Economic Survey and an authority on Iraq’s oil industry.

Although earlier pipeline attacks have also suggested that the attackers had inside help, “they have never accused anyone publicly,” Mr. Khadduri said of Iraqi officials.

Elsewhere, two American soldiers were killed by enemy fire in Balad, north of Baghdad. The dean of the law school at Mosul University and her husband were shot and killed, and two Iraqis died in a car bombing in Baghdad.

Today, the American military said three Iraqi civilians, one of them a child, were killed when an “improvised explosive device” exploded in central Baghdad. The Iraqi police said the device was a roadside bomb, Reuters reported.

In all the recent beheadings, the victims were wearing orange shirts similar to prison jumpsuits. Some analysts have speculated that the jumpsuits are meant to evoke the humiliations of Muslim men at the Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. *

*Mr. Kim was kidnapped Thursday as he was returning to Baghdad in a civilian convoy that had left an American military base 120 miles west of the capital.

He had been working for a South Korean company that supplied goods to the American military, and held degrees in Arabic, English and theology. He was working in Iraq to earn enough money to carry on his studies, his sister said.

Militants released a videotape on Sunday in which they demanded that the South Korean government abandon its deployment plans within 24 hours or receive the head of Mr. Kim.

Hundreds of South Koreans held candlelight vigils and joined prayer groups on Monday to ask for Mr. Kim’s release and to beseech their government to negotiate with the captors. Officials rejected the insurgents’ demand, and the Monday night deadline came and went with no news of Mr. Kim’s fate.

But the worst fears of Mr. Kim’s family and friends were realized on Tuesday night, when Al Jazeera showed part of the videotape of his death.

The video showed a large black banner with a yellow circle hanging on a wall behind the men. Words at the bottom revealed the name of the group, Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, which means Monotheism and Holy Struggle. A standard Islamic saying runs across the top of the banner: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.”

A similar banner was left behind by insurgents who staged a brazen daylight assault in February on the main police station in Falluja. That city remains the single most problematic place for the occupation forces in Iraq. In early May, marines withdrew from the city and turned it over to a 2,000-strong militia composed partly of insurgents, and Falluja now remains firmly in the hands of hard-line Sunni clerics and guerrilla fighters.

Last Saturday, an American jet fired missiles at what General Kimmitt said was another suspected Zarqawi safe house in Falluja. At least 26 people were killed.

It was unclear whether Mr. Kim was killed by the same people who had kidnapped him. Insurgents have announced rewards for the abduction of foreigners from countries that have sent soldiers to Iraq.

Scores of foreigners have been kidnapped since the bloody uprising in April, and many are still being held.

Kim Chun Ho, the head of the Gana Trading Company, which employed Mr. Kim, has told the Yonhap news agency that several other foreign contractors were traveling in the same convoy with Mr. Kim and were also kidnapped.

He said those contractors were working for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton and the largest private supplier to the American forces. The company said Tuesday that it could not confirm the kidnappings.

South Korea has 660 noncombat troops in Iraq. The addition of the 3,000 in August would make the country’s deployment here the third largest, behind the United States and Britain.

Polls in South Korea show that a majority of people there oppose their government’s participation in the war. The government released a statement on Tuesday emphasizing that the troop deployment is “for reconstruction and humanitarian aid support.”

Insurgents have pursued a strategy of punishing countries that join in the occupation. In April, fighters killed one of four Italian hostages but released the others. A Japanese photographer and two nonprofit workers were kidnapped in April and eventually released. In both cases, the countries refused to negotiate with the captors.

Many of the hostages who have been released have won their freedom through the mediation of Sunni clerics. Earlier on Tuesday, wire services reported that an Iraqi mediator said he had seen Mr. Kim alive and that the captors had agreed to extend talks.

Edward Wong reported from Baghdad for this article, and James Glanz from Basra.


New York Times
June 23, 2004
Killing Won’t Alter Plans for Iraq, Seoul Says

Getty Images
The parents of Kim Sun-Il at their home in Busan, South Korea, reacted to the news that he had been killed.

TOKYO, Wednesday, June 23 — South Korea condemned the beheading of a Korean hostage in Iraq as an “inhuman act of terror,” and vowed Wednesday to go ahead with sending 3,000 more troops to Iraq this summer. But officials also braced for planned street protests on Wednesday against the increasingly unpopular troop deployment.

“Our government’s basic spirit and position has not changed,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Shin Bong Kil, told reporters on Wednesday morning. “We confirm that again, because our troop deployment is for reconstruction and humanitarian aid support for Iraq.”

Shock rolled through the nation on Wednesday as millions of South Koreans started their day watching a televised video of the hostage, Kim Sun Il, a 33-year-old interpreter and evangelical Christian, kneeling passively before his masked Muslim captors.

“Enough lies,” one of the kidnappers said in the videotape provided to the Arabic television station Al Jazeera. “Your army is not here for the sake of Iraqis but for the sake of cursed America.”

South Korean television did not show the actual beheading.

Candlelight vigils to protest the troop deployment are planned for Wednesday night in Seoul and Pusan, South Korea’s second largest city, which is also Mr. Kim’s hometown.

A slender man with an undergraduate degree in theology, Mr. Kim last year earned a graduate degree in Arabic language studies from South Korea’s top foreign-language university, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. For the last year, he had worked for one of the several South Korean companies that have won contracts in Iraq. His company supplied goods to the American military.

In letters and telephone calls home, he had talked of doing missionary work, combining his command of Arabic and English with his Christian faith. He had planned to fly home in August to join his seven sisters to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday.

On Wednesday morning, in a humble Pusan neighborhood, Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Jong Kyu, and his mother, Shin Young Ja, sat on their living room floor, rocking back and forth in stunned grief over the loss of their only son.

Television images showed neighbors restraining one daughter, Kim Jong Sook, who wailed, “Bring back my brother!”

Before Mr. Kim’s death was announced, his mother said in a television interview that he “is introverted, kindhearted and studies hard.” She and her husband said their son “lived with no greed.”

Many South Koreans see him as an innocent pawn in a geopolitical power game.

With the planned deployment of troops later this summer in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, South Korea will become the third largest contributor of foreign troops, after the United States and Britain. South Korea imports all of its oil from the Middle East and frequently wins large construction projects there.

Opponents of the deployment say that South Korea risks alienating the Arab world by adding to its present mission of 670 military engineers and doctors stationed in Iraq. They say that South Korea is sending troops only to mollify the United States. Defenders of the move often explain it as necessary to meet Seoul’s larger geopolitical needs, namely, the military alliance with the United States against North Korea.


The Arab backlash the militants didn’t expect
Jason Burke, an expert on al-Qaeda, detects a growing revulsion in the Muslim world against the random atrocities committed by its self-appointed champions and sees in it a promise of terrorism’s defeat
Sunday June 20, 2004
The Observer


Al Qaeda terror riles Saudi public
Faiza Saleh Ambah | Jeddah | June 21, 2004



Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Two more get the chop

Saudi Beheaded for Slaying Acquaintance

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A man who shot and killed an acquaintance after an argument was beheaded Tuesday in one of two executions in Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry said.
In the second execution, Mohammed Wahab Rowaidad, a Pakistani, was beheaded in the western port of Jiddah for smuggling heroin into the country.

This is most unusual. Not beheading drug smugglers, but doing it on a Tuesday. They’re supposed to do it on a Friday, after Friday prayers. You go to Friday Prayers in the main mosque of a large city, and if you pray piously, Allah rewards you with a public execution in the square outside. But there’s nobody around on a Tuesday.

The thing we should face up to as Saudis is that Public Executions are “showbiz”. So we should do them properly. If we were the USA, with their “by invitation only” executions, we could afford to be low-key about the whole thing. But we’re not ashamed of having ours in public, so let’s do it with style.

At the moment what happens is that a couple of guys put down a big polythene sheet. Then the executioner arrives. Then the van arrives with the prisoner and his guard. They lead the prisoner to the center of the sheet and make him kneel. If the relatives of his victim want to pardon him, now is the time for them to shout, and he’s released, pays blood money instead. Otherwise the sword swings, head comes off, lots of blood, people faint, someone pukes. Body and head are taken away. Polythene sheet rolled up. All over.

That’s not really showbiz, is it? It’s obviously a ceremony designed by civil servants. It needs more “pazazz”. It needs to be more “Hollywood”.

  1. It needs a compere. Someone sleazy, an arabic Jerry Springer
  2. Then we need a “trailer-trash” audience. Oh, we’ve got that. They’re called “Bedu”, come in from the desert where they live in tents. So that’s OK.
  3. There should be a warm-up act to get the audience going. Belly-dancers from the Lebanon would be good.
  4. Then we need some mascots, like a European soccer match. Little boys, dressed up as executioners, with miniature swords, come on and have their photos taken. Their parents look on proudly with moist eyes.
  5. Then, like a big boxing match, there should be some lesser events first. A couple of public floggings, for example, 100 lashes each, would go down well.
  6. Then the compere should interview the families of the criminal and his victim. Cue poignant photo of criminal as young toddler playing with stuffed camel, home video of victim sitting with family. Sit them next to each other, maybe they’ll fight, like Jerry Springer’s show.
  7. Then when the victim is marched in, they should play an appropriate song. Like the one by Gentle Giant

I lost my head, it was not easy,
unknown, unread, it wasn’t easy,
and each day, each night,
wasn’t wrong, nor right,
I can’t remember what I said
I lost my head.
Something the audience can clap to.

  1. Then the audience can vote on whether the family will pardon the criminal. Then they can try and influence the family with their shouts – cries of “take the money!” and “chop the bastard!” build up to a crescendo.
  2. Assuming no pardon, there’s a battery of stroboscopic lights and the sword swings. It’s magnified on a massive screen. There are endless replays from different angles. Then in slow motion. Two commentators, retired executioners, discuss the finer points of the swing. Sombre music plays as the corpse and head are removed. The lights dim. That’s it until the next time.
  3. However, we’ll be showing highlights after the 9 o’clock news… Then there’s the “Executioner of the Year” awards in May. …..And don’t forget to watch “Favorite Execution Bloopers of all time”. ……….Buy “The 52 Executions of 2003” DVD Compilation……………..Visit the Executioner Hall of Fame…………………………..

Posted by: Alhamedi / 11:48 AM| Comment (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

First Interactive TV, now the Interactive Execution

Well, it’s the other way round, actually. Interactive executions came first.

It works like this. If the person is being executed for murder, and you are a close relative of the victim, you can pardon the murderer and opt for “blood money” instead. And you can do that at any point up to the swing of the sword blade.

Last-Minute Pardon Saves Youth From Executioner’s Sword

TABUK, 28 March 2004 — The execution of a murderer was averted with only moments to spare in the crowded execution square here, according to a local press report.

The executioner was about to do his duty when the father of the murder victim, Ayed ibn Muhammad Sabr, shouted at police to stop the execution of Abdul Kareem Al-Ghoraid, 20, because he forgave him.

The killer had spent five years in prison, where he memorized the Qur’an.

Joy and tears mingled as the family of Abdul Kareem prayed for the father and thanked him for forgiving their son.

Timing is everything. Too early and you don’t get enough tension built up and released. Too late…and it could be too late.

Posted by: Alhamedi / 12:50 PM| Comment (0)

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  • arta–not sure what you are collating here, feel free to have this removed if it doesn’t fit your interest

    Baghdad’s view on Korean beheading: he deserved it

    Sydney Morning Herald

    By Paul McGeough, Chief Correspondent in Baghdad
    June 24, 2004

    His death was met with outrage in Washington and remorseful determination in Seoul.

    On the streets of Baghdad, there was little sympathy for South Korean Kim Sun-Il, beheaded by his captors and dumped on the road between Baghdad and Fallujah.

    Abu Zaman, a 53-year-old driver, was blunt on the fate of the 33-year-old evangelical Christian: “He deserved it. I object to beheading, but if he was co-operating with the Americans he made a bad decision.”

    Most victims of the wave of hostage-taking in Iraq in the last three months were released unharmed. And while an Italian security contractor was shot dead by his Iraqi captors in April, beheading was the tactic of choice in the death of two Americans in the region in the last month – an American Jew was beheaded in Iraq in May and an American engineer was executed by the same means in Saudi Arabia last week.

    The choice of beheading in two countries swept by anti-US sentiment will blur the distinction that critics of the American occupation of Iraq have made between war against Saddam Hussein and the war on terrorism.

    It is a brutal but ritualistic and low-cost tactic steeped in a bloody history and culture – the law in neighbouring Saudi Arabia still allows for criminals to be beheaded in Riyadh’s Chop Chop Square. But the chilling video of a sobbing Mr Kim released to the world’s media and placed on the internet are a high-tech add-on that multiplies the shock value, gives the killers huge media coverage and puts governments under enormous political and emotional pressure.

    And it makes just being in Iraq an even more gruesome lottery for foreign civilians.

    They are under pressure to evacuate as a grim sense of isolation becomes more acute, with many of the Americans they have come to know in the occupation authority being replaced by novice strangers with the planned return next week to a form of Iraqi sovereign control of the country.

    Mr Kim, a fluent Arabic speaker who also had a degree in theological studies, was employed as an interpreter by Gana General Trading, a Korean company supplying food to the US military.

    He was abducted in the restive city of Falluja last week, as he returned to the capital from a US base in the west of the country.

    On Sunday his captors set a 24-hour deadline for his execution, saying his head would be returned to South Korea unless the August troop deployment was abandoned. In the accompanying video, a distraught Mr Kim screams in English: “Korean soldiers, please get out of here. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.”

    In Baghdad, most ordinary Iraqis criticise beheading as offensive to Islam, but they draw distinctions between the different victims – American Nicholas Berg was the least deserving of their sympathy because of his Jewishness; and for them, Paul Johnson, the Saudi victim, had died in another crisis in another country.

    Ziad Omar, a 46-year-old unemployed postal worker, said: “If [Mr Kim] was working for a company that supplies the Americans then he was guilty.”

    Saad Latief, a 36-year-old English literature graduate, was shocked on moral and religious grounds; and Alan Enwia, an interpreter about the same age as Mr Kim, argued the beheadings had to be seen in the context of Iraqi suffering.

    Asked if Iraqis were talking about the killing, he said: “Not much. It is ugly, but deep inside we are hurting and if you have to carry a heavy weight it doesn’t matter if someone puts a little more on your back.”

    Mr Kim had been interpreting for his Korean employers for a year. His letters home were filled with his urge to combine his Arabic language skills and his Christian faith.

    He was denied his dream in a country that has rapidly become a dangerous place for dreamers.

    Copyright © 2004. The Sydney Morning Herald.

  • . . .I don’t think a lot of press attention should be given to the capture and killing of a single hostage, since the whole point of the captors is to generate such attention. I think the big stories on Tuesday were the killing of 2 more US troops near Balad and the airstrike on Fallujah. The beheading creates a lurid interest, but it doesn’t matter to a dead person how he was killed. And, no, beheading has nothing special to do with Islam, it is just grisly and a good tool for terrorists. . .

    Archive link

  • I’m collating anything to do with it, cause it is an important phenomenon, culturally and historically. I have just been having all kinds of thoughts on this.

    The news junkie public MHO “fell for it” big time with the Nick Berg story. And my, how easily that wore off! Hardly anyone cares about posting on this Korean fellow. Interesting!

    Definitely TV publicity has been a major part of the terrorist arsenal since we started using the term, but the beheading thing, that I see as targeted towards Western audiences.

    As Juan Cole noted (you placed a quote below), it has nothing to do with Islam.

    It should not have shocked “Arabia” as well. But it seems to have. Though beheadings are used as punishment in Saudi Arabia, this Paul Johnson one seemed nonetheless to have shocked and upset a large portion of the Saudi audience. Through maudlin TV coverage similar to the Princess Di story? A human interest thing? The P.R. was handled well so as to make them feel sorry for and identify with the family? I dunno…that part is puzzling…that’s why I posted the Religious Policeman stuff. (His discussion of the related tribal tradition of blood money is also intriguing…is it related?)

    I am starting to see mention of patterns in the specifics such as the orange jumpsuits and the banners. As to specifics, full translated text would be interesting to see.

    For some reason, I am beginning to think it has something to do with this, that it started with this…same intent of shocking Western audiences, with mutilation of bodies, using the media:

    3/31 Fallujah Violence and American Response
    on the initial Fallujah incident before Operation Vigilant Resolve started;action=display;threadid=18175

    I do not think all of this has the hallmarks of the original very sophisticated symbolic targets of Osama, who I think really understood how media works and the effects it would have on various populations. I think this is an unsophisticated tactic that would not be used by those trained in original Al Qaeda camps.

    But so far, there are interesting hints that all the incidents are not just cases of “copycatting”, but are being suggested/directed by a specific group.

    Wondering how targets are selected. Note that one of the articles says that

    The reactions of the different cultures: Korea, U.S., Arabia, are also interesting. The perps obviously want a reaction! But the responses are different!

    I was even thinking on why did Judeo/Christian nations discard beheading after the French Revolution? Supposedly, it was used as a more humane form of execution then what had been used before!

    That’s just a few of the things that interest me about it.  It truly is a “Sontag-like” subject.

  • Wondering how targets are selected. Note that one of the articles says that

    finishing that thought:

    The Wong/Glanz NYT article intriguingly says
    _It was unclear whether Mr. Kim was killed by the same people who had kidnapped him. _

    Would also like to add: I agree 100% with the Juan Cole quote you posted. To be honest, I really was truly horrified by the mass reaction to the Nick Berg thing; I felt that most were falling prey to the manipulation that was intended. It seemed so very clear to me that was what was happening. The major media acted very responsibly about it for the most part, MHO. It was the internet and blogs that fueled all of the coverage. This scared me. I tried to ignore it, and ignore that thread, but it really bothered me, wanted to scream “don’t you people realize you are thinking and doing what they want you to think, that those responsible are really pulling your chain?”

  • When exactly did executions stop being public events in the US?  It was after all a good old Western tradition.  Cassanova has a great scene in his memoirs as the failed regicide is being publicly tortured and killed. Cassanova has luxury box seats for himself, a friend and their respective mistresses (i.e. palace windows overlooking the ceremony).  The torture gets the women  all excited and … well this is Cassanova.  (Same regicide stuff that starts off Foucault’s Discipline and Punish)
    All the Westerns have them, the French Revolution had its guillotine festivities.  By the time of the RUssian Revolution, however, public executions were meant purely as intimidation, not intimidation/entertainment.
    Informal executions did have a festive air – think lynchings or the killings of collaborators in France or Mussolini in Italy.

    I’ve seen anti-death penalty people call for televised executions in the US.  Unfortunately they’d probably end up looking like Muttawa’s modest proposal.

  • the 2 comments replying to Slyv on this thread:
    thanks Slyv and some thoughts
    p.s. forgot to finish this thought & 1 more

    and thanks for bringing up the examples you did, especially Foucault (and Sade).

    Wednesday, June 23, 2004
    I really feel ashamed and disgusted seeing all of those heads falling down. Every new head that is cut shows how much we, seculars, are isolated and marginalized.

    All of these feelings of anger after the occupation of Iraq, are being translated into more and more irresponsible violent reactions, but whom are we supposed to blame? ….


    Archive link

  • Just heard of an army fellow here in Canberra who sat down to watch the ‘execution’ but could not. The gruesomeness apparently was too revolting.
    Pleased to see that some still have gentle spirits.

  • excerpt from a post I made on the Nick Berg thread on the BB–you’ll like it Graham, if you didn’t read it already:


    As to questions about the whether the tape really shows a death, here is an essay by a New York City medical examiner who did a lot of work on 9/11 bodies:

    New York Magazine

    May 31 issue

    Second Opinion
    A New York City medical examiner watches the video of Nick Berg’s beheading and wishes he’d looked away.

    By Jonathan Hayes

    I watched the video. It took only a minute or two to find the link; I didn’t hesitate before clicking–I felt I needed to see it. The true nature of this war has been so carefully hidden, every supplied statistic and every image pruned like a prize rosebush. But the slaughter of Nick Berg seemed unspinnable; like the Abu Ghraib images, it was digital information, free to anyone who chose to look.

    There was professional curiosity, too: I’m a forensic pathologist, and my everyday responsibility is the dispassionate and meticulous analysis of death. For more than a dozen years, I’ve probed violent or unexpected deaths–homicides, suicides, accidents. I was part of the team that handled the bodies after 9/11, attempting to identify victims and to inform families. I’m particularly interested in drug-related deaths and strangulation, and I’ve been translating a nineteenth-century French monograph on death by decapitation, which had originally been prompted by public concern over the guillotine (an object of controversy since its creation).

    Anyway, I watched it. A matchbook-size, low-res image of five masked men in a white room, Nick Berg trussed at their feet…


  • thanks, arta. I did not read the Nick Berg thread except for a parting glance? possibly? The yuck level is too much for me, I have not clicked on the continuation link for the above post yet and probably will not….

    I have seen enough dead bodies i)’au naturel’, ii) also the results of criminal acts
    iii)and car crashes when I was nursing so no fascination from afar I guess.

  • the orange jumpsuits and what statement they are making through their use of them?

    MHO this is probably the thing that most lent the Nick Berg killing to conspiracy theories.

  • What I found particularly disturbing about the Nick Berg reaction was the fact that people were refusing to believe that what they saw on the videotape was almost certainly just what it appeared to be. There was such a need to be the possessor of “special knowledge” not readily apparent to the uninitiated, that folks were receptive to the wildest speculation. This is, of course paralleled in myriad other events in the recent past, but with the amount of material that blogs are starting to feed into the media food chain and the cutbacks in the numbers of reporters actually present in-country for many events, I fear for our ability to objectively discern what’s actually happening in any given situation. I mean, the Nick Berg murder is about as richly documented an event as you can get and people were still managing to inject bad data into the mix!

  • You just very succintly summed up a major part of my feelings on that whole meme. When that happens, it really scares me. I see blogs and news on the internet as at a very dangerous point right now. They can either take the high road to an information revolution or they can descend into the worse kind of demagoguery and manipulation and disinfo. like Murdoch never dreamed of (could name a few famous dictators as well, but don’t wanna get flamed!)

    Part of the problem, I think, is the state of research skills vis-a-vis the news, plus more and more good reporting and stories going to paid archive or pay-per-view rather quickly. For someone who has become an internet news junkie in the last year or two, without “dead tree” experience, what they get when they try to research a major story from the past is masses of conspiracy theories and rhetoric et. al. with a few good things scattered few and far between.

    We desperately need an “Internet News Users Guide” taught in all high schools, I think.

    Really does scare me, though…the whole eagerness to believe combined with a newly found addiction to news surfing via google/yahoo.

    If everyone had access to Lexis/Nexis, no prob. But they don’t. What they get in searches is often a ton of garbage, blatant propaganda, divisive rhetoric, et. al.

    mebbe more on it later…

  • more outrageous arta stream-of-consciousness in response

    I didn’t think of the orange jumpsuit meme on my own like you did, but it sure jumped out at me when it was mentioned in the Wong/Glanz NYT article, and I highlighted it for that reason.

    Very obviously meant to evoke the Guantanamo meme, MHO.

    What I see in that is also something that has always interested me. It’s complicated, I don’t know if I can express it well, but I’ll try.

    First, in general, to me, the perps doing that are buying into the whole “eye-for-an-eye” meme in a major, major way.

    Tis not really grievance there, ’tis saying “we can be as powerful as you, we can humiliate just as well as you”.

    I have been interested in this for a very long time, unrelated to Iraq, more related to my thoughts on the death penalty, on how society should handle the truly criminal mind, and related penal issues! Ever since reading In The Belly of The Beast by Jack Henry Abbott. Abbott’s book opened my eyes to pervasive danger of “eye-for-an-eye” to civilization. He very clearly made the case that the death penalty reinforced all the beliefs of the criminal mind: that those with power get to kill. A legitimate government reserving the right to kill just reinforces everything the uncivilized believe!

    K, enough arta broad simplistic generalizations :-)…back to the orange jumpsuits.

    The American conspiracy theorists didn’t “get” the intended message right away!  They were puzzled by it instead! Tried to make up other reasons for it!  Which is part of the reason I am thinking that the group(s) doing this do not have a good understanding of and proficiency of Osama 101 Propaganda Theory and Practice as to terrorizing the western imperialist masses! πŸ™‚

    On the other hand, intriguingly, a large part of the Saudi public just recently reacted viscerally against the meme presented! Why is that? Maybe they understand “eye-for-an-eye” much more deeply than we do? And don’t like the idea of these incompetent violent kiddies being in charge of that? Just crazy speculation on it at this point.

  • Seriously … maybe you should write it up as an article (maybe even an Agonist exclusive) for our Media Criticism section and of course the front page. SP and others might even want to work on it with you (aren’t I great at thinking of work for others? heh)

  • Propaganda revision to the 1st article on this thread? Who got to them? Orders from Karzai–cut the eye-for-an-eye shit? πŸ˜‰ (For more on this meme, see my just-written reply to Sylv on elsewhere this thread).

    Afghan militia leader retracts beheading claim
    David Rhode | June 24, 2004 | Kabul

    (NYT via IHT) – Senior Afghan officials have denied a report that soldiers from the country’s new U.S.-trained national army beheaded four Taliban prisoners. Namatullah Tokhi, the local militia commander who originated the claim in interviews with Reuters and The Associated Press, then told both news agencies that he retracted his statement.

    By worldwise in Global War On Terror on Thu Jun 24th, 2004 at 02:18:51 PM EDT

  • aren’t I great at thinking of work for others?

    I’ll go along with that opinion! πŸ™‚

    Actually, I like figuring things out, but I hate writing. I tried that journalism thingie in my youth for a very short time…me no like! Is very difficult for me! ‘Tis why I spend so much time here on Agonist reading and posting instead of writing the reports I am sposed to be doing in my work! Hee!

    Well, on this one, maybe, once I figure it all out, that is. May never figure it all out, though.


  • Basically,

    it was already all summed up in 1895
    in a famous short book,

    Gustave Le Bon: The Crowd

    which was introduced to me in my very first history course in college by the great historian George Mosse, for which I will be forever grateful! (Was a survey of Western civilization late 19th/first half 20th century–was a freshman, just turned 17–was in way, way, way over my head! Several very serious SDS-type radicals in the class would have screaming arguments with Mosse every lecture!)

    BTW, The Crowd is available on line in several places, one edition here:

  • BTW, for those wondering, I read this after my last lengthy comments to Sylv on Jack Henry Abbott et. al., not before! No, I am not “Daniel J. Wakin”! But _is really about power and humiliation. The idea that the beheadings are a refinement of the Palestinian pre-suicide videos, rather than from the “al Qaeda” branch of propaganda, is interesting; not that this same analyst thinks the Daniel Pearl beheading was different, and that they are not interested in negogiation. Think I am going to watch for more from him!_

    New York Times
    June 24, 2004
    Assessing a Gruesome Toll After a Rash of Beheadings

    subheading in print:

    A terrorist act called the ultimate symbol of power over an enemy.


    Violent extremists acting in the name of Islam have seemingly adopted a gruesome tactic against the United States and its allies in the recent rash of incidents in which attackers have beheaded hostages and then raced to disseminate the gory images.

    These militants see such acts as the ultimate symbols of power over an enemy — horrific and utterly unambiguous examples of ruthlessness — scholars and analysts of the Middle East say.

    “For these extremists, it represents not just the beheading of one American, but it is the beheading of America,” said Dr. Alan Godlas, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Georgia. “The kind of gut reaction that Americans have, that all people have when they see it, this is what the militants want.”

    Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam’s holiest sites, is one of the few countries in the world to use decapitation as a form of the death penalty, basing it on the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law. Most Muslim countries use the firing squad or hanging in official executions. The Saudi executioner uses a curved sword in a public square.

    Islamic authorities and some Muslim countries have denounced the terrorist beheadings, calling them a distortion of Muslim tradition and saying that the killing of innocents is forbidden by the faith. And experts on Islam are reluctant to link the manner of the killings to the religion.

    Beheadings as a form of capital punishment existed for centuries in the West, too. It was even an option in Utah in the last half of the 19th century, said Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University, although there is no evidence that the method was ever used.

    But the extremists’ method of killing their victims is carefully calculated, said Richard W. Murphy, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former American ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    “Somebody knows us well enough to know how deeply offensive and intimidating that is,” he said. “They have chosen an execution which is particularly horrible to reach the widest audience.”

    For a nation like the United States that has sanitized the death penalty with lethal injection, the sight of a beheading is particularly jarring, said Talal Asad, a professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. And it is no accident, he said, that the terrorists in Iraq and Saudi Arabia have been using a “traditional” method of killing as a way of creating contrast with the West.

    The killings also represent a significant departure from the past taking of foreign hostages in the Middle East. In Lebanon in the 1980’s, Westerners grew accustomed to seeing hostages stumbling into the daylight after years of negotiations and concessions, although several hostages were killed. The main hostage takers then were members of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

    The latest cases appear to be products of their circumstances. The sheer number of foreigners in Iraq and Saudi Arabia makes taking hostages easy, and the ability to broadcast messages over the Internet and on Arabic-language satellite television networks like Al Jazeera creates a whole new forum to display horrifying acts.

    “This is a breakthrough in communication that has transformed the whole ethos of terrorism,” said Ed Blanche, a journalist who covered the hostage-takings in Lebanon and who is now a Beirut-based analyst for Jane’s Information Group. “What has changed is that the Arab world, the Muslim world, the third world, now has access to this communication.”

    He said the recent videotapes are a refinement of the videos of suicide bombers in Israel, which were made before the attacks and designed for release after them.

    Mr. Blanche said he believed that the killers of the American contractor Paul M. Johnson Jr. in Saudi Arabia were following the tactics of those in Iraq who carried out the murder of Nicholas Berg, another American. He said the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter killed in Pakistan, was probably not part of the pattern.

    “I think these guys have a very well-thought-out agenda,” he said of the Iraqi captors. “This is not just barbarity for the sake of being barbaric. One wonders what the next step is going to be.”

    The militants in Iraq, Mr. Blanche said, are seeking to demonstrate their power to the United States and its allies.

    “They’re saying get out, or this guy dies,” he said. “It’s not exactly negotiation.”

  • Looks like there has been some partial success there by the perps, a la traditional Osama-type goals: a ramp up in the “eye-for-an-eye/war of civilizations” thing.

    New York Times

    June 24, 2004
    Hostage’s Death Unleashes Mixed Emotions Back Home

    SEOUL, South Korea, June 23 — The beheading of a South Korean hostage in Iraq provoked demonstrations on Wednesday against plans to send 3,000 more troops to Iraq this summer. But it also set off an angry backlash.

    Callers deluged mosques with telephone bomb threats, e-mail messages crashed a Defense Ministry Web site with offers to fight terrorists, and nearly one-quarter of poll respondents at two youth-oriented Web sites said the killing of their compatriot prompted them to back the deployment of more troops.

    As intended by the kidnappers, the killing of Kim Sun Il, a 33-year-old interpreter, pumped new life into a movement to stop the plan to send more troops, a deployment that would make South Korea the third-largest source of foreign troops, after the United States and Britain. The killing emboldened 50 members of the National Assembly to endorse a motion on Wednesday to stop the planned deployment.

    “The environment in Iraq has changed significantly,” the lawmakers said, echoing the sentiments shared by 3,000 demonstrators at a candlelight vigil here on Wednesday night. But the legislative group is 100 members short of a majority, and South Korea’s president, Roh Moo Hyun, is expected to prevail with his plan to send the troops to northern Iraq’s Kurdish areas.

    “I still feel heartbroken to remember that the deceased was desperately pleading for his life,” Mr. Roh said in a television address, recalling the video images broadcast here that showed Mr. Kim crying, “I don’t want to die.” But, Mr. Roh said, “we shouldn’t let them achieve what they want through terrorism.”

    With no ties to Iraq other than oil imports, South Korea and Japan seem to be sending troops largely to stay on the good side of the United States, their main military ally. In Japan, a poll published Tuesday in The Asahi Shimbun showed that 58 percent of respondents opposed the presence of Japanese soldiers in Iraq. In South Korea, public opinion has been more evenly split.

    “Anti-American sentiments, and maybe anti-Arab sentiments, will grow further, but I think it is very hard for President Roh to cancel the plans,” Kim Dong Choon, professor of political sociology at Songkonghoe University, said Wednesday.

    Selig S. Harrison, a visiting American expert on Korea, sounded a similar note, saying in a separate interview: “President Roh is going to be damaged politically by this, but I would be very surprised if he retreats. He is in such a box now, he can’t retreat.”

    An unexpected reaction was Wednesday’s wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Iraqi sentiment.

    “An innocent son of our nation was murdered,” read one of the many messages that crashed the Web site of South Korea’s Defense Ministry. “If you allow me to volunteer for Iraq, I will fight terrorists to avenge his death.” Other messages urged military strikes against terrorists.

    At a rally in Seoul, conservative protesters said the government should send combat troops to Iraq, instead of doctors and engineers.

    “We want revenge for Kim’s killing,” the conservative protesters shouted, burning portraits of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of the Islamic militants who beheaded Mr. Kim and dumped his body and head on a road.

    After callers threatened to blow up Seoul’s main mosque, riot police officers were posted outside the building. Amid fears of a reaction against the country’s 40,000 Muslims, most of whom are immigrants, the police tightened security around 30 other mosques across South Korea.

    In a country that has the highest per capita use of high-speed Internet connections, the government threatened to shut down any domestic Internet portal that showed images of the beheading. Naver, one of the nation’s busiest Web sites, received 60,000 messages on Wednesday morning about the killing, many demanding revenge.

    The nation’s mood swing could be seen in Pusan, where Mr. Kim grew up. On Monday, when Koreans believed that their pleas would be heard, his neighbors had put up a banner outside his house that said: “The South Korean people have never fired a single bullet at Iraqis. Please send back Kim Sun Il alive.”

    One of eight children of a poor family in Pusan, Mr. Kim had graduated with a degree in Arabic studies from South Korea’s top language school and had hoped to perform missionary work, combining his Christian faith with his Arabic- and English-language skills. According to the latest reports, he was held hostage for three weeks before this kidnappers cut his head off.

    Minutes after news of his killing, angry neighbors tore down placards saying, “Koreans are friends of the Iraqis.”

    In Iraq, a South Korean medical unit of 35 doctors had suspended work on Monday to protest the kidnapping of Mr. Kim. Working out of a former air base 12 miles west of Nasiriya, the doctors have treated about 20,000 patients since their arrival last year, their interpreter told Agence France-Presse.

    In his television address, Mr. Roh appealed for calm and emphasized that South Korean troops were going to Iraq to rebuild the country.

    “The South Korean plan to send troops to Iraq is not to engage in hostilities against Iraqis or other Arab people, but to help reconstruction and restoration in Iraq,” he said.

    The president’s Uri Party said in a statement, “Our country has provided medical and construction aid since last year and our efforts to help Iraq’s reconstruction will continue.”

    But the violence against foreigners in Iraq is forcing a pullout by South Korean companies, long reknowned in the Middle East for displaying construction and business skills in tough environments. An evacuation of South Korean civilians from Iraq is now under way.

    “To prevent similar acts of terror from happening again to South Korean nationals, the government has decided to take measures to quickly evacuate all South Korean nationals in Iraq, except those who are absolutely necessary,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Shin Bong Kil, said.

    In a sign of the times, Cana General Trading, the company that employed Mr. Kim, announced Wednesday that it would pull all of its Korean workers out of Iraq and suspend operations there.


    New York Times
    June 28, 2004
    Iraq Group Issues Threat to Behead a Missing Marine

    Al Jazeera, via APTN
    A man identified as Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun of the Marines was shown with a captor brandishing a sword

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 27 — A militant Iraqi group threatened Sunday night to behead an American marine it said it had abducted from a military base unless the United States released all Iraqi prisoners, according to a video broadcast on the Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera.

    The video shows a man identified as Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun sitting on the ground in desert-patterned camouflage fatigues, with a thick blindfold over his eyes and a long, curved sword held over his head.

    Marine officials said Sunday night that Corporal Hassoun, who is of Lebanese descent, had been missing since June 21.

    The kidnappers belong to a little-known group called the Islamic Reaction, which referred to itself as the security wing of the 20th Revolution Regiment. They did not give a deadline for taking action but said Corporal Hassoun would be killed if their demands were not met.

    The new beheading threat adds to the anxiety that has been steadily rising in Iraq with the approach of the transfer of sovereignty on Wednesday. Now five men — three Turks and a Pakistani as well as the American — face grisly execution if their countries do not bow to their captors’ demands.

    Also on Sunday, a passenger on a military flight was fatally shot when the plane was fired on during takeoff from Baghdad International Airport. In a separate incident, two children reportedly died after a mortar crashed into the waters of the Tigris River.

    In Baghdad, extra police officers were called up to guard major intersections and search cars. American military officials warned that Monday could see the beginning of a wave of insurgent attacks that they are calling the “Baghdad offensive.”

    Earlier on Sunday, another Arab television network broadcast a video of masked men holding a Pakistani contractor hostage. The masked men, apparently not from the same group as the one holding Corporal Hassoun, said they would cut off their hostage’s head within 72 hours unless Pakistan closed its embassy in Baghdad and recalled all of its workers. The Pakistani government has not issued a response.

    In the video, the Pakistani hostage looked ashen-faced and terrified as he sat at the feet of four gunmen. He held up a badge identifying himself as an employee of the American contractor Kellogg Brown & Root.

    In the video of the man identified as Corporal Hassoun, no kidnappers are clearly shown, although someone standing off camera is holding a sword over the marine’s head. In a statement by the group, the kidnappers said they had sneaked into an American base, lured Corporal Hassoun out and then kidnapped him.

    Marine officials said Corporal Hassoun is a member of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, which has many troops based in the strife-ridden Falluja area, where several other Americans have been abducted. The officials said that while they could confirm that Corporal Hassoun was missing, they could not confirm he had been kidnapped. In the short, grainy video, the camera lingers on his Marine identification card that says, “Hassoun, Wassef Ali” and “Active Duty.”

    The group’s name, 20th Revolution Regiment, is thought to refer to the violent uprising in Iraq against the British after World War I.

    Family members gathered Sunday night at the home of a close relative of Corporal Hassoun’s in West Jordan, Utah, southwest of Salt Lake City.

    The blinds of the house were closed and the curtains pulled shut. Friends and relatives, some wearing head scarves, stopped by. A group of cameramen and reporters stood on the corner with their large trucks and lights on.

    “In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate, we accept destiny with its good parts and its bad,” said Tarek Nosseir, a family friend and spokesman, reading a statement to reporters. “We pray and we plead for his safe release, and we ask all people of the world to join us in our prayers. May God bless us all.”

    In the community, where children ride bikes down the street, neighbors say the family members keep to themselves. Usually, when they were seen outside, they were working on their lawn or their cars, said Rob L. Grimstad, a neighbor. He saw one of the family members on Sunday and said it was clear that he was suffering.

    “You can tell he’s upset from his expression,” Mr. Grimstad said. “He’s obviously in distress. That’s not the way he usually looks.”

    Meanwhile, three Turkish men remain in captivity, also facing a threat of beheading. Neither Turkey nor Pakistan has troops in Iraq though the two countries, both Muslim, supply many workers. Turkey said Sunday that it would not give in to the kidnappers’ demands that it quit doing business with American forces in Iraq.

    Already, two hostages seized in Iraq have been decapitated, on video, by insurgents connected to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian fugitive suspected of masterminding a bombing campaign that has killed hundreds of people. In recent weeks, he has emerged as the brutal new terror boss in Iraq, though it is not clear if he is linked to other groups like Al Qaeda or is operating on his own. Some intelligence officers have even said Mr. Zarqawi may be a rival, not an ally, of Osama bin Laden.

    Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that occupation forces had recently captured two top Zarqawi aides. “We’ve picked up a couple of his key lieutenants, and that’s helpful,” he said.

    A defense official said one of the aides, who was captured last week, had told American interrogators that Mr. Zarqawi was less interested in the future of Iraq specifically than he was in establishing a base in Falluja from which to foment violence against the United States and American allies in the region.

    Sunday in Baghdad started out grimly when several large mortar shells thudded into the Tigris River around 11 a.m. There was a second mortar attack in the evening, and news agencies later reported that between two and five people had been killed, including two boys playing on the riverbank.

    Reuters reported that a rocket strike had killed an American soldier in Baghdad and that insurgents had killed six Iraqi soldiers near Baquba, a small city north of the capital and the scene of other recent violence.

    The military released few details about the attack on the airplane, thought to be one of the first deadly incidents of its kind. A short news release said that a C-130 troop transport plane was hit by gunfire around 5 p.m. and that the pilot had returned to the ground to seek medical treatment for the passenger, who later died.

    In Hilla, south of Baghdad, the death toll rose to 37 from a suicide car bomb that exploded on a busy street on Saturday night.

    Sadiq Hashim was driving with his family to an ice cream parlor when the explosion ripped next to his car. His wife and two sons burned to death inside the car.

    On Sunday, Mr. Hashim, a civil engineer, curled up in a hospital bed, his face and chest a mess of burn salve and gauze.

    “The street was like a piece of fire,” Mr. Hashim said. “It all happened before my eyes, and I was unable to help my kids, who were burning.”

    His 4-year-old daughter, Nergis, survived, but Mr. Hashim said the skin on her face now looked as though it had melted.

    “I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I went through several wars,” Mr. Hashim said. “But never have I seen something so horrible.”

    Car bombs have become one of the deadliest tools of terror in Iraq. But most are aimed at police stations or military targets. What was unusual about the Hilla bomb, which went off around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, was that it was directed against a strip of juice stands, clothing stores and ice cream shops, at the precise hour when families go out for a stroll or a drive after the desert sun sets and the air begins to cool.

    Many people were outraged.

    “I just want to ask one question to those who call themselves freedom fighters,” said Ali Kadum al-Hamdani, the provincial human rights chief in Hilla. “What did Nergis do to them?”

    Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Hilla, Iraq, for this article, Eric Schmitt from Istanbul and Melissa Sanford from West Jordan, Utah.


    Video: Tape of Hostage on Al Jazeera


    New York Times
    June 27, 2004
    Group Claims to Hold 3 Turks and Says It Will Behead Them

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 26 — A group led by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed in a videotape on Saturday night that it had kidnapped three Turks in Iraq and would behead them unless Turkish companies leave the country within 72 hours. The news came as President Bush traveled to Turkey for a NATO meeting.

    As violence continued in Iraq on Saturday night, a bomb killed at least 17 people in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, the American military said. The explosion, possibly caused by a car bomb, injured dozens of others. [Early Sunday, the military said the death toll had risen to 40, Reuters reported.]

    The claim about the kidnappings came hours after American officials here renewed a public appeal for intelligence about Mr. Zarqawi’s whereabouts, repeating an offer of $10 million for information leading to his capture or killing — and saying the reward would be paid quickly.

    “He’s a very effective terrorist,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief spokesman for the American military here. “We need every citizen in this nation to understand that they have a role in the hunt for Zarqawi.”

    Meeting with European Union leaders in Ireland, Mr. Bush emphasized Saturday the danger posed by Mr. Zarqawi. “He is a problem because he is willing to kill people, innocent people, in order to shake our will and shake our confidence,” the president said after the meeting .

    The choice of kidnapping Turkish workers seemed not to be a coincidence. Mr. Bush will attend a NATO meeting in Turkey to settle an assistance package for Iraq.

    The Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera broadcast a videotape showing three men, holding up Turkish passports, along with a statement threatening to kill them within 72 hours unless Turkish companies left Iraq.

    Mr. Zarqawi’s group, Jamaat al-Tawid and Jihad, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and is believed to be responsible for the beheading earlier this week of a South Korean interpreter, Kim Sun Il.

    American officials say they believe Mr. Zarqawi himself may have beheaded Nicholas Berg, an American businessman, in May.

    Iraqi and American officials have been bracing for a spike in violence as June 30, the date for transferring sovereignty to Iraq, approaches.

    Mr. Zarqawi, the officials say, appears to be behind much of the violence in recent days. His group claimed responsibility for simultaneous car bombs in Iraq on Thursday in which roughly 100 people, nearly all of them Iraqis, were killed.

    The American military has struck back with three bombings on what it said were safe houses for Mr. Zarqawi’s group in Falluja, a center for anti-American resistance, west of Baghdad. General Kimmitt said he believed it was possible Mr. Zarqawi himself may have narrowly missed death on the latest of those bombings, on Friday.

    Violence continued on Saturday amid a spate of attacks in Baquba, north of Baghdad, and a car bombing in the north was apparently aimed at the minister of culture in the Kurdish region, Mahmoud Mohammad.

    In Baquba, six insurgents were killed during attacks on police facilities and headquarters for two political parties — the interim prime minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Iraqi forces also discovered a car bomb loaded with explosives, General Kimmitt said.

    Dr. Allawi, who will take power next week, has said his priority would be cracking down on the insurgency.

    In Erbil, in the Kurdish-controlled north, General Kimmitt said, a bomb exploded behind the car of the culture official, Mr. Mohammad, when it stopped at a traffic light. One person was killed, he said, and 17 people were wounded, including Mr. Mohammad. The bombers got out of the car before detonating the bomb by remote control, General Kimmitt said. One of them was captured by Iraqi forces.

    In Baghdad on Saturday, he said, an American soldier was killed after his convoy was attacked by rocket-propelled grenade.

    In Mahmudiya, a town south of Baghdad, insurgents killed two members of the Iraqi National Guard in an ambush.

    Election Delay Is Said Possible

    Iraq’s interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, told CBS News in an interview broadcast yesterday that national elections set for January 2005 could be delayed if the country’s security situation is not stabilized.

    “We are committed to elections, and one of the tasks is really to work towards achieving these objectives,” Dr. Allawi said. “However, security will be main feature of whether we will be able to do it in January, February or March.”


    June 27, 2004
    Service Honors Slain Hostage Paul Johnson

    Filed at 10:12 a.m. ET

    EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Relatives of an engineer slain by kidnappers in Saudi Arabia said they hope his legacy is one of peace in the land he grew to love during more than a decade abroad. The statement from the family of Paul M. Johnson Jr., read by a clergyman after a memorial service, also implored Saudi and U.S. authorities to find his body.

    “When history is written on the war on terrorism, let Paul’s death be the catalyst that led to thousands more Westerners working in harmony with people in the Middle East to ensure fear and barbaric acts against free peoples come to an end,” the Rev. Kyle Huber said Saturday . Johnson, 49, an engineer for Lockheed Martin who worked on Apache helicopters, was abducted June 12 by a group calling itself al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

    Johnson’s beheading was made public on a Web site on June 18. His body has not been found, but Saudi security forces said they killed the head of the cell that kidnapped him hours after the video footage was posted.

    “Paul loved Saudi Arabia and its people. He gave over 10 years of his life to his work, much of which benefited the Saudi military,” the family said in the statement read by Huber. “The Saudi government owes him and our family more answers surrounding his death and their continued best efforts to locate his remains.”

    The 45-minute service, attended by about 120 people, was the first public appearance by Johnson’s family since relatives pleaded for his release.

    Steps to the church’s pulpit were adorned with flowers, along with a picture of Johnson and his wife. Outside the church sanctuary, a floral arrangement from Lockheed Martin featured a photograph of Johnson and co-workers posing in front of an Apache helicopter.

    “We are here to support a family that has been placed under a terrible burden,” Huber said during the service.

    During the service, Johnson’s mother, Delores Johnson, was presented with an American flag by a family friend who arranged the ceremony. Attendees sang hymns and “God Bless America.”

    “Today your love is hurting,” Huber said. “Deep loss, anger, an evil action that cannot be understood all weigh heavily upon your hearts.”

    Johnson grew up in Eagleswood Township and relatives still live nearby.

    His wife, who is from Thailand, is expected to come to the United States to be with his family, said Huber. He did not know when that would happen.

  • the below supplemented with print edition blurbs

    New York Times
    June 30, 2004
    Abducted Marine Had Reportedly Deserted

    Officer Sees Betrayal Of a Missing Marine

    Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was abducted by his captors while trying to make his way home to his native Lebanon, an officer said.

    The American marine who is being threatened by his kidnappers with beheading was abducted in Iraq after desterting to make his way to his nativ3e Levanon, a Marine officer said. The officer said he believed the marine, Cp. Wassef Ali Hassoun, had been betrayed by Iraqis he befriended on his base.


    European Pressphoto Agency
    A portrait of Wasef Ali Hassoun, 24, was provided by his family in Tripoli, Lebanon.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 29 — The American marine who is being threatened by his kidnappers with beheading had deserted the military because he was emotionally traumatized, and was abducted by his captors while trying to make his way home to his native Lebanon, a Marine officer said Tuesday.

    The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was betrayed by Iraqis he befriended on his base and ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.

    The officer said Corporal Hassoun, a 24-year-old Marine linguist who was born in Lebanon, was shaken up after he saw one of his sergeants blown apart by a mortar shell.

    “It was very disturbing to him,” the officer said. “He wanted to go home and quit the game, but since he was relatively early in his deployment, that was not going to happen anytime soon. So he talked to some folks on base he befriended, because they were all fellow Muslims, and they helped sneak him off. Once off, instead of helping him get home, they turned him over to the bad guys.”

    “It’s all we know right now,” the officer added.

    Corporal Hassoun, a fluent Arabic-speaker who had been living with his family in West Jordan, Utah, outside Salt Lake City, joined the Marine Corps to work as a translator.

    About two months ago, he told a cousin that several American deserters had escaped by bribing Iraqis to help get them out of the country.

    “He said a lot of soldiers, they don’t want to die, especially when they see someone dying in front of them,” said the cousin, Tarek Hassoun, who lives in Salt Lake City.

    Marine officials said Sunday night that Corporal Hassoun had been missing since June 21. On Sunday, the Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera broadcast a videotape that showed him blindfolded with a sword over his head.

    According to a statement provided with the video, an obscure group called The Islamic Reaction said it had abducted him near Falluja and was threatening to behead him unless American forces released all Iraqi prisoners.

    The group, which also identified itself as the security wing of the 20th Revolution Regiment, a reference to the Arab uprising after World War I, did not give a deadline for the release or execution.

    When Corporal Hassoun was first shown in captivity on video Sunday, Marine officials were reluctant to confirm that he had been kidnapped. On Monday, they acknowledged that they were now classifying his status as “captured.”

    Masked men have snatched dozens of foreigners in the past several months. On Tuesday, three Turks were freed after by their captors.

    But several hostages have been executed. The latest victim appears to be Specialist Keith Matthew Maupin, an American soldier who vanished after an ambush on his convoy near Baghdad on April 9.

    On Monday, Al Jazeera, which has been first to broadcast a number of videos showing the killing of Americans, broadcast a video it said ended with kidnappers shooting Specialist Maupin in the head. Army officials said they could not confirm that he had been killed.

    Intelligence officials said it is not clear if the kidnappings are coordinated, although they suspect that some of the captors are at least loosely tied to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant thought to be behind much of the mayhem in Iraq.

    On Monday night, Muslims in Salt Lake City gathered at the Khadeeja Mosque, one of three mosques in the city, to pray for Corporal Hassoun.

    Mahdi Jaff, 38, an Iraqi Kurd who immigrated to the United States 10 years ago, said he had met Corporal Hassoun a few months ago while the marine was home on leave.

    “I loved him when I met him,” Mr. Jaff said. Mr. Jaff said Corporal Hassoun had stayed true to his Muslim values while serving in the military.

    When he heard the news that a member of the Hassoun family had been seized in Iraq, Mr. Jaff said he did not know who it was.

    “He has a lot of brothers so, at first, I was not sure who was captured, but then when I saw the picture, I said, `Oh, man, that’s him,’ ‘ Mr. Jaff said. “I was really shocked that it was him.”

    “Those people will not negotiate,” Mr. Jaff said of Corporal Hassoun’s captors. “He just has to wait for his time to come. It’s just like when someone would be sent to Saddam Hussein’s jails; he would send a message to his family and say, `I’m gone.’ “

    Others in Salt Lake City were also praying Monday night. About 25 people stood in the rain on the steps of the Utah State Capitol, pleading for Corporal Hassoun’s release.

    Pamela Atkinson, 68, of Salt Lake City, led the group in a prayer to God.

    “As the insurgents threaten his life, we ask that Corporal Hassoun and his family feel your loving arms around them,” she said.

    Jeffrey Gettleman reported from Baghdad for this article and Nick Madigan from Salt Lake City. Melissa Sanford contributed reporting from Salt Lake City.

  • New York Times


    Published: July 1, 2004

    An article yesterday about Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, the American marine held by kidnappers in Iraq, quoted incompletely from a comment by a cousin of his in Salt Lake City about speculation that the corporal might have deserted. The cousin, Tarek Hassoun, said of a conversation two months ago with Corporal Hassoun: “He said a lot of soldiers, they don’t want to die, especially when they see someone dying in front of them.” When the report from Salt Lake City was added to the Baghdad article, this further comment from Tarek Hassoun was omitted: “But I’m sure he didn’t run away.” (Go to Article)

    continued w/other corrections @

  • ….The four Blackwater security guards were killed at a large intersection on Falluja’s main street. It was once called Habbaniya Street, but the name was changed to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin Street in March, after the Israelis assassinated Yassin, the co-founder of Hamas. When I was there in May, laborers with scarves protecting their faces from dust stood around, waiting to be picked up for day jobs. Anti-American graffiti was scrawled in English on the walls of nearby buildings. Young boys who sold bananas and Kleenex were acting as an early-warning system for the city. I knew several people who had been spotted by them. The laborers, who were armed with shovels, pipes, and pickaxes, were on hand to enforce street justice.

    The boys gathered around me and the laborers removed their kaffiyehs from their faces to talk. Several of them said that they had witnessed the attack, and they described how two S.U.V.s had stopped at a red light and mujahideen had opened fire on them from other vehicles. A mujahid had shouted, “I avenged my brother who was killed by the Americans!” and the assailants left. The gruesome scene of the mob mutilating the bodies, burning them and beating them until they were partially dismembered, was captured on film by local cameramen. (There is a term for this kind of thing. In Iraqi dialect, the Arabic word sahl, which literally means dragging a body down the street, has grown to mean any sort of public massacre.) The images were broadcast over and over again on Arab and Western television

    excerpt from

    The New Yorker
    by NIR ROSEN
    A dangerous excursion into the heart of the Sunni opposition.
    Issue of 2004-07-05
    Posted 2004-06-28

  • bold highlighting of Fallujah is his


    Thursday, June 24, 2004


    I look forward to see what the conspiracy theorists who were convinced that the Nicholas Berg video was staged are going to say about this one. Just a week after the beheading in Saudi Arabia by Al-Qaeda, Jama’at Al-Tawhid wa Al-Jihad which is believed to be the group led by Zarqawi beheaded a South Korean national who was kidnapped in Fallujah. They say his body was found near Baghdad which painfully shows the ease and confidence in which this group operates and moves around from place to place.

    These are the same people that continue to pour in from the borders of our ‘friendly neighbours’ to wage their 7th century Jihad on Iraqi soil, they are the same people that pack vehicles with tons of explosives to relieve thousands of Iraqis of their existence, they are -I believe- the same people who continue to assassinate hundreds of Iraqi professionals and ‘collaborators’, they are the same people that run the Taliban-style Emirate of Fallujah, they are the same people who the Arab media insists are heroic ‘resistance fighters’. Yet all we hear after such grisly scenes is… (croak).. (croak).. a maddening silence, and then a few obligatory half-hearted ‘This is not the real Islam, you know’, ‘Noooo, it’s really a religion of peace, you don’t understand’. However, I don’t think people are buying these lines any more.

    What the media fails to realise, is that the logic of these groups can actually be turned against them. They claim they are here to drive the foreigners who have been killing Iraqis out of Iraq. Ironically, those Mujahideen are also foreigners who have been slaughtering thousands of Iraqis over the last year. I’m not sure we are going to see any of them beheaded on tv though.

    Another barbaric incident yesterday which hasn’t been given the media attention it deserves was the slaughter of Layla Abdullah, dean of Law College at Mosul University. She was found slaughtered and shot in the head together with her husband at her residence in Mosul. She has been getting death threats for a while according to her relatives.

    I believe we are going to see more beheadings, the Mujahideen seem to appreciate the publicity and attention they receive with each new execution. Don’t count on any public demonstrations of Muslim outrage though, there won’t be any.

    # posted by zeyad : 6/24/2004 12:54:49 PM
    comments (173)

  • A Method With A Brutal History
    Steven Mufson | July 4 | B04

    WaPo – From the headless corpses of North African warriors lined up before ancient Egypt’s Temple of Horus about 5,000 years ago to Kim Sun Il, the South Korean interpreter killed last month in Iraq, perhaps no method of execution arouses as much fear and revulsion as beheading. And usually that’s just the effect its practitioners — whether monarchs or terrorists — want it to have.

    Beheading is the latest weapon in the hands of those who have sworn to punish Westerners, but it has a long history. It has been used from Medina to Manchuria, from Norway to Nigeria.

    When U.S. citizen Paul Johnson was beheaded by terrorists in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, six Saudi clerics issued a statement that said: “The bombings and killings have revolted people and hurt individuals and their property, and no one with the slightest knowledge of Islam can doubt that this is an atrocious crime and grave sin.” But in their eyes, the sin was the improper taking of a life, not the method. The Saudi government beheaded 52 men and one woman last year for crimes including murder, homosexuality, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

    Is beheading un-Islamic? The Koran (chapter 47, verse 4) says: “When ye meet the Unbelievers in battle, smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly on them: thereafter is the time for either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens.” According to some accounts, in 627 A.D., the prophet Muhammad approved the beheading of 600 people from a Jewish tribe living near Medina. He believed tribe members had betrayed him by negotiating with his enemies.

    “In 680, the prophet’s favorite grandson, Hussein bin Ali, had his head chopped off in Karbala in central Iraq by the soldiers of the Caliph Yazid,” Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri wrote in a New York Post column. “The severed head was put on a silver platter and sent to Damascus, Yazid’s capital, before being sent further to Cairo for inspection by the Governor of Egypt.”

    Today, beheading is still used officially in a handful of Persian Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. But historically, the practice was not limited to Muslim countries. The Romans used it; the Book of Revelation cites “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.”

    Some cultures considered beheading to be a quick — and, therefore, more humane and honorable — method of execution than the alternatives, such as hanging, crucifixion or disemboweling. In England, beheading was introduced in 1076 and restricted to those of noble birth convicted of treason. When Sir Thomas More was convicted of treason in London in 1535, his sentence was “that he should be . . . hanged till he should be half dead; that then he should be cut down alive, his privy parts cut off, his belly ripped, his bowels burnt, his four quarters set up over four gates of the City, and his head upon London Bridge.” King Henry VIII commuted the sentence to beheading. As a warning to others not to defy the king’s will, as More had by refusing to take an oath recognizing Henry’s supremacy to the pope, More’s head was indeed placed on London Bridge, where it stayed for several months.

    But the punishment has not always been swift, or humane: It took three blows to remove Mary Queen of Scot’s head in 1587.

    Many of the countries at the forefront of human rights campaigns today once used beheading as a form of execution. In Sweden, about 600 people, including nearly 200 women, were beheaded in the 19th century.

    In Japan, beheading was frequently performed as the second part of ritual suicide. The person committing suicide would disembowel himself and a trusted friend would then decapitate him with a katana, or long single-edged sword. Japanese warriors also cut off the heads of their enemies for many centuries. Beheading was one charge in the war crimes case against Japanese leaders for the 1928 massacre of more than 200,000 people in Nanjing during Japan’s occupation of China.

    Historically, axes or swords have been the instrument of choice. The guillotine (named after Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French doctor and member of the Revolutionary National Assembly) was first used in France in 1792 to execute a highwayman. The next year it was used to execute the queen, Marie Antoinette. But many countries continued to use axes or swords. Germany used axes to decapitate criminals through the 1930s. In 1935, a baroness and her friend were convicted of spying and their heads were chopped off by an executioner wearing tails, top hat and white gloves.

    More recently in Iran, the mullahs have cut off the heads of some political figures. The Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley was kidnapped by Hezbollah and sent to Iran, where he was beheaded in 1986. Agents were sent to cut off the heads of the shah’s last prime minister in a Paris suburb in 1992 and an Iranian pop star in Germany in 1993.

    Now that most governments have given up the practice, terrorist groups from Nigeria to the Philippines seem to have adopted it. While Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda’s offshoots have made beheadings something of a trademark lately, they aren’t the first extremist groups to engage in the gruesome tactic. In Algeria in the 1990s, according to Human Rights Watch, members of the Islamic Armed Group (Groupe Islamique Armée, or GIA), “exhibited spectacular cruelty. In addition to guns, they used crude weapons such as knives and saws to behead or disembowel men, women, and children.”

    According to Taheri, the GIA recruited Momo le Nain (“Muhammad the Midget”), a butcher’s apprentice, for the purpose of cutting off people’s heads. In 1996 in Ben-Talha, a suburb of Algiers, Momo cut off 86 heads in one night, including those of more than a dozen children.

    After Johnson’s death last month, President Bush said, “The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people.” Intimidation is exactly what it’s all about.

  • Los Angeles Times,1,2598836,print.story?coll=la-head

    Web Amplifies Message of Primitive Executions
    Terrorists are reaching into homes around the world with images of beheadings in Mideast.
    By Lynn Smith

    Times Staff Writer

    June 30, 2004

    The first time she felt numb. The second time she cried. Lillian Glass, a Beverly Hills psychologist, was stunned at the barbarity of terrorists beheading their hostages, right there on her computer screen. Equally surprising was how easily she found the video online.

    “You can’t imagine anything worse,” she says. “Right now, they’re coming into your home. It’s like they’re using technology as a vehicle for war.”

    Ritual beheading is as primitive as war gets. But 21st century technology is making the grisly details of such killings visible to millions around the world.

    In what has become a war of images, the slayings of businessman Nicholas Berg, engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr. and South Korean interpreter Kim Sun Il have been publicized through both conventional media channels and the raw, unfiltered chambers of the Internet.

    It is impossible to say how many people have watched the videos over the Internet. But “Nick Berg” was the second most popular search request on Google in May, following “American Idol.” Last week, the most popular search was for “Paul Johnson.”

    FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kenneth McGuire, who oversees the cyber-crime squad in Los Angeles, says that disseminating video of such violent acts over the Internet is a new form of cyber-terrorism — one proving difficult to contain.

    Some Internet services have tried to shut down sites that host such videos, but the images continue to flow. Over the weekend there were new kidnappings and threats of beheading, and with them, the possibility of more videos to come.

    Publicizing their atrocities has always been part of the strategy for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, says Josh Devon, an analyst at the SITE Institute in Washington, which tracks terrorist activities.

    “The point of terrorism is to strike fear and cause havoc — and that doesn’t happen unless you have media to support that action and show it to as many people as they can,” Devon says. Terrorists used to circulate propaganda via publications and audio- or videotapes, but the Internet has supplanted those methods. “Suddenly, it’s not only text, but pictures and video and audio clips which are attacking all the senses at once,” he says.

    In the United States, news executives who traditionally draw the line at depicting the most graphic war violence now face a media landscape where millions get unfiltered images on the Internet almost instantaneously. By posting digital video or photos on the Web, terrorist groups make it almost certain that the news media will air at least some of the images.

    Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture, says that poses complicated questions. Do media outlets limit themselves, knowing the videos are widely available? Or do they show everything and run the risk of doing exactly what the terrorists wanted?

    “In essence, the terrorists are directing a movie for the world to see,” Thompson says, “yet the media has to cover it, and the world does in fact see it.”

    Many networks and news sites obtained the full video of Berg’s killing from the website of a militant Islamic group but used only a fraction of it. Most opted for footage of victims kneeling in front of captors before the executions. Last week, such images popped up repeatedly as teasers to TV news programs and on Internet news sites.

    “If people can’t watch, we’ve lost our ability to convey information,” says Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News.

    Yet the overwhelming online interest in such images belies the notion of viewer squeamishness. For reasons that may include a simple desire to keep up with the news, morbid curiosity or salaciousness, people are digging past the mainstream news sites to find the raw footage.

    Any news stories containing graphic violence — including the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and the attacks on four American civilians in Fallouja — prompt an “astronomical” spike in photo and video viewing online, says Michael Sims, news director for

    In recent months, he says, “we’ve really been forced to sit down and talk through the issues and decide for ourselves where the lines are. To tell the story, not sugarcoat it, but not be offensive.”

    Almost anyone with a digital camera and a laptop can upload images, Devon says. Terrorists in many cases are using U.S. technology and Web hosting services for these digital attacks, he says, noting that Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system comes with video editing software. The point of origin for files uploaded to a Web page is “virtually untraceable,” he says.

    The websites don’t last long — they often are shut down within 24 hours because of user complaints. A GeoCities page with photos of Johnson’s beheading in Saudi Arabia collapsed within three hours. But in this case the reason was that the site was overwhelmed by the number of users trying to access the communique and photos, Devon says.

    By that time, the images had been downloaded, copied and passed on. Now they easily can be found along with the other beheadings via any Web search engine.

    Not everyone buys the explanation, posted by one website, that it aims to “discourage” terrorists by showing how evil they are. Tom Kunkel, president of American Journalism Review, called the justification a “fig leaf.”

    “Any news outlet — or any private individual, for that matter — who makes available footage of the actual beheadings is, to my mind, an accessory to the crime itself,” says Kunkel, dean of journalism at the University of Maryland. “Those are the individuals who are essentially finishing the work of the terrorists, by delivering their grisly ‘message.’ “

    Some viewers have been hit hard. Psychologists say they’re getting responses that vary from depression and feelings of vulnerability to outrage and the desire for revenge.

    “I’m hearing colleagues saying they should go and cut [the terrorists’] heads off,” says Anie Kalayjian, a Fordham University psychology professor who specializes in disasters and mass trauma. Some Vietnam veterans she counsels — both perpetrators and victims of brutality — are experiencing nightmares and flashbacks, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, she says.

    Beheading is a powerfully brutal act that taps into very primal human fears, Kalayjian says. Watching video — on TV or the Internet — can trigger symptoms in the same way seeing the act in person can. “Now we’re not just reading it in the newspaper. We’re seeing the process, hearing the outcries, the suffering, pain and terror,” she says.

    Some regret their decision to look. Writing in New York magazine, forensic pathologist Jonathan Hayes said he clicked on a link to video of the beheading of Berg out of a desire to see the true nature of the war and a sense of “professional curiosity.”

    Not only did the video unleash feelings of fury, despair and revenge, it also left him unable to detach himself from his work, which had involved recovering bodies from the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “I wish I hadn’t made that choice: to look at something I have managed to avoid seeing, while looking at it every day,” he wrote.

    Glass also sought out the Internet videos because she thought they were an important part of the news. She says she will be haunted by the images forever. But still, she says, she’s glad she watched.

    “At least I’m more informed, and I know what these people are capable of. We’re seeing how primitive, how demented, how inhumane this behavior is.”

    Worse, in some ways, was hearing Kim’s gut-wrenching pleas for his life — screams she already knew were useless — over the radio. Glass says they came repeatedly, and each time unexpectedly, every time ABC Radio talk show host Sean Hannity cut for a commercial.

    A spokesman for the show said warnings were given upfront that the material might be disturbing.

    To Glass, that type of broadcast went too far. “It sickened me. You felt his fear. It was chilling to every part of your body.”


    Gunmen threaten to behead Saddam lawyers
    Baghdad | July 8
    Reuters – Brandishing assault rifles and grenade launchers, masked Islamists threatened in a taped message on Thursday to behead any lawyers defending deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

    “Saif al-Allah (The Sword of God) group, belonging to the Islamic Jihad, warns all those who defend the criminal file of the cowardly criminal Saddam … that we will sever your necks before you arrive,” one gunman read from a piece of paper.


    By stonehouse in Iraqi-American War on Thu Jul 8th, 2004 at 08:19:45 AM EDT


    July 14, 2004
    Iraq Militants Said to Behead Truck Driver From Bulgaria

    Rolex dela Pena/European Pressphoto Agency
    Protesters clashed with the police Tuesday in a demonstration in Manila calling on the Philippine government to withdraw its forces from Iraq in the hope of saving the life of a Filipino hostage, Angelo dela Cruz.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Wednesday, July 14 – A group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant, said it had beheaded one of two Bulgarian hostages held in Iraq and threatened to kill the second within 24 hours, the Arab news channel Al Jazeera reported early Wednesday morning.

    Al Jazeera did not show the execution of the hostage, nor did it identify him. It broadcast a section of videotape showing a blindfolded man with a mustache, wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling with his hands tied behind his back. Three masked men stood above him, one apparently reading from a piece of paper.

    On Wednesday, a suspected car bomb went off near an entrance of the Green Zone and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the fortified area in downtown Baghdad that is the main headquarters for American officials. The entrance is normally crowded with Iraqi drivers and police officers. There was no immediate information about casualties.

    The group led by Mr. Zarqawi, who has claimed responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks in Iraq, has beheaded two other hostages: Nicholas Berg, an American businessman killed in May; and Kim Sun Il, a Korean interpreter killed last month.

    The group, Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, had threatened to kill the two men, truck drivers identified as Ivaylo Kepov and Georgi Lazov, by Saturday unless all Iraqis in prison here were released. On Tuesday, the Bulgarian government said it believed that both men, thought to be suffering from health problems, were still alive. They were last heard from on June 29, while traveling near the northern city of Mosul.

    In recent months, dozens of foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq, posing a difficult test for nations that have sent troops to Iraq or who have nationals working here. Soldiers, security guards and low-level workers like truck drivers and translators all have been targets.

    The Philippines said Wednesday that it was withdrawing its small peacekeeping force from Iraq early to meet the demand of kidnappers threatening to kill a captive Filipino truck driver, The Associated Press reported.

    The announcement, which said the pullout was beginning immediately, was a dramatic turnaround by one of Washington’s biggest backers in the campaign against terror. The Philippines had vowed not to yield to pressure to move up the withdrawal, which had been scheduled for Aug. 20.

    The kidnappers said they would execute the hostage, Angelo dela Cruz, a truck driver for a Saudi company, on Sunday if the Philippine government did not agree to withdraw the troops a month early.

    There was no word whether Mr. dela Cruz was still alive.

    All but one past claim of the execution of hostages has been true. On July 3, a militant group posted a claim on the Internet that it had beheaded an American marine, Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun. But Corporal Hassoun turned up safe several days later and has since turned himself in to the United States military, which accused him of being absent without leave from his military base.

    On Tuesday, the interim Iraqi government, flexing its new muscles without American help, mounted a major sweep of criminals in Baghdad, arresting what officials said were 527 suspects in crimes ranging from kidnapping to murder.

    Safety is, by far, the major concern of Iraqis, and they frequently complain that the American military has been less concerned with ordinary crimes, which have skyrocketed, than with bombings and terror attacks. The raids on Tuesday seemed intended to show that the new interim government, which took power from American occupation forces here two weeks ago, would not only move forcefully against everyday violence, but was capable of doing so alone.

    “There was no coordination with the Americans in these arrests,” Sabah Kadhim, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said. “This was done totally by Iraqis.”

    The raid, the second in the past week, was carried out by the Baghdad police and Iraqi intelligence agents. Mr. Kadhim said that those arrested would be investigated for any links to the insurgents who attack American and Iraqi forces.

    In Brussels, the new interim foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, appealed to NATO for urgent help in training Iraqi security forces to help fight the insurgency here, as promised last month at the organization’s summit meeting in Turkey.

    He also said that Iraq would like military equipment and help from NATO in border control and protecting United Nations workers who will oversee the elections for a national assembly next January.

    “We need this training you promised us in Istanbul to be carried out as soon as possible,” Mr. Zebari told reporters in Brussels. “We need it, in fact we are in a race against time and it’s a matter of urgency.”

    NATO members have disputed exactly what their agreement last month meant, with several countries opposed to NATO’s becoming the primary trainer of Iraqi security forces. Several nations, including France, have ruled out a direct presence of NATO troops.

    The military reported Tuesday that a hand grenade was tossed at an American patrol in downtown Baghdad. Another explosion in southeastern Baghdad injured three Iraqi civilians, the military said.

    While the overall level of violence remains high, with no letup in attacks against Americans and Iraqi forces, it has been nearly three weeks since there have been any of the large, spectacular attacks that have killed as many as 200 people here in a single day.

    The head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee said his convoy was attacked in Baghdad on Monday, injuring one of his guards.

    “This was an assassination attempt,” the committee head, Ahmed al-Samarrai, told Reuters.

    After a roadside bomb exploded near his two-car convoy, he said, insurgents attacked with grenades.

    In Mosul, an Iraqi civil defense soldier was killed in firefight with insurgents on Monday. Nine other soldiers were reported wounded and two of the attackers were reported killed.


    July 14, 2004
    Stunned Bulgarians Begin to Question Iraq Policy

    Filed at 10:09 a.m. ET

    SOFIA (Reuters) – Stunned by the beheading of a Bulgarian truck driver by militants in Iraq, Bulgarians questioned on Wednesday their government’s staunchly pro-U.S. stance on Iraq.

    “It is high time for Bulgaria to pull out of this adventure,” said painter Valentin Borisov, 43. “We shouldn’t have walked in there. I don’t justify the cruelty (of militants), they really are terrorists. But what are we doing there?”

    The government of the ex-communist country stood firm, saying it was keeping its 470 troops in Iraq and sticking to its foreign policy despite the execution of one Bulgarian hostage and the threat that still hangs over another.

    “The battle to defend universal values against fanaticism requires consistency, courage and stamina,” a joint statement by the president, the prime minister and parliament said.

    Analysts said the killing had shocked the nation but was unlikely to bring protesters on to the streets or threaten the pro-Western government of ex-king Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg.

    “Despite the fact that people are full of resentment, it was not the state that sent the two to Iraq,” Kancho Stoichev, an analyst with Gallup Bulgaria said. “This is a tragedy … but I do not think we can expect anti-war protests.”

    Truck drivers Georgi Lazov, 30, and Ivailo Kepov, 32, worked for a provincial Bulgarian company transporting cars to Iraq. Local media reports said a 15-day trip would earn them $1,000, compared to average monthly salaries of $150 at home.

    Bulgaria fought a five-day diplomatic battle to save the two men, held by a militant group threatening to kill them unless U.S.-held Iraqi prisoners were released.

    Al Jazeera television said it would not air a video showing the beheading because it was too gruesome. The militants said they would kill the second hostage by 2000 GMT on Wednesday if their demands were not met.


    Bulgarians interviewed said they believed their government was doing its best to resolve the crisis but that the two men were victims of Bulgaria’s policies abroad.

    “Bulgaria must very seriously reconsider its foreign policy,” said Dimitar Venkov, a 42 year-old historian. “Being so closely tied with the United States is wrong.”

    While Bulgarians widely back their country’s recent NATO entry and efforts to join the European Union in 2007, polls show they strongly disapprove of sending troops on foreign missions, especially to Iraq, where six Bulgarian soldiers have been killed so far.

    A Gallup poll conducted in June showed 70 percent of Bulgarians were against their country’s presence in Iraq, and 76 percent believed it increased the risk of attacks against Bulgaria.



    (Iraqi-American War, All Topics)
    posted by stonehouse on 07/13/2004 04:50:33 PM EDT

    and there are others by searching for “Bulgarian”.


    other interesting cross-links:

    Pakistani “Saw Iraq Beheadings”
    (Iraqi-American War, All Topics)
    posted by stonehouse on 07/10/2004 11:20:06 AM EDT
    0 comments (0 new)

    How To Free A Hostage: there is a science: Allbritton & Walt in Time  (Global War On Terror, All Topics)

  • July 15, 2004
    Experts Fail to Recover Body of U.S. Hostage in Saudi

    Filed at 7:23 a.m. ET

    RIYADH (Reuters) – A search by U.S. and Saudi authorities for the body of a beheaded American hostage is drawing to a close after experts failed to find his remains, the U.S. embassy said on Thursday.

    Experts who had come to Saudi Arabia to help search for the body of engineer Paul Johnson, killed nearly a month ago, have left the country after collecting evidence which will be analyzed in Washington, spokeswoman Carole Kalin said.

    A Saudi newspaper said on Thursday that Johnson’s family were seeking a meeting with Saudi officials in Washington to push for the search to continue.

    “It (the search) is drawing to a close certainly,” Kalin told Reuters.

    “Our experts who had come for that specific purpose have now departed. And there was significant evidence collected during the stay that is being examined. But we don’t have the expectation that there will be a recovery of the body at this time,” she added.

    Johnson, a 49-year-old aviation engineer employed by U.S. helicopter gunship maker Lockheed Martin, was beheaded on June 18 by supporters of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the deadline they set for Saudi authorities to free Islamist prisoners expired.

    His killing was the latest in a year-long campaign by the militants to topple the pro-U.S. monarchy and drive out what they call infidels from the birthplace of Islam.

    Kalin said an extensive search had been carried out since Johnson was killed in and around the capital Riyadh — where over three million people live and which is about the size of the U.S. city of Chicago.

    “I think there are many precedents for famous crimes in which the body simply had not been able to be recovered. I am afraid this may be one of them,” she said.

    The U.S. embassy said in a statement that the search was conducted with the help of a Human Remains Detection K-9 unit, commonly known as a “cadaver dog” team.

    “We did everything we could to find Paul and bring him home,” the embassy quoted Ambassador James Oberwetter as telling the Johnson family by telephone.

    Saudi daily Arab News quoted Johnson’s son Paul as saying his family was not happy with the decision to stop the search. “This is not the proper closure we have been seeking,” he told the English-language daily from Port St. John in Florida.

  • incredibly racist in its presumptions!

    Thinking like that presumes that radical Islamists are poor innocent dodoheads who have no capabilities in the propaganda or modern media manipulation put to ancient manipulation of emotions department.

    <sarcasm> It must, must be a U.S. project, of course. Why, all you need for this to be true is the following coincidences of timing.</sarcasm&gt

    The enduring scars of Osama’s little projects say different.

    Bet the same thing could be done with Putin or any other world leader just as easily. What wonders the internet brings! Cherry picking delights.

  • started it, he must have been turned by some shadowy group from the west.
     _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _  _

    Iraq: Fear of further extrajudicial executions
    PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 14/15/2000

    UA 338/00 Fear of further extrajudicial xecutions 3 November 2000

    IRAQ Najat Mohammad Haidar (f) and many others

    Up to 50 women accused of being prostitutes and men accused of procurement have reportedly been publicly beheaded. The executions were part of a campaign to stamp out prostitution and ”immoral crimes”.

    The executions were reportedly carried out by members of Fida’yi Saddam (Saddam Fighters), a paramilitary group under the control of the Iraqi President’s eldest son, ‘Uday Saddam Hussain. They took place in various areas of the
    capital, Baghdad, and other Iraqi cities, and outside the victims’ houses. Members of the ruling Ba’th Party and the General Union of Iraqi Women are said to have attended the executions. None of the victims are said to have been charged in accordance with Iraqi law and brought to justice.

    A woman doctor in Baghdad, Najat Mohammad Haidar, was also reportedly beheaded on prostitution charges. No further details are available in her case. Amnesty International is concerned that scores of women may be arrested and executed as suspected prostitutes.

    Although there has been no official confirmation of these executions, the use of beheading as a punishment for prostitution and procurement would mark a change of policy. In 1994 the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), Iraq’s
    highest executive body, introduced a series of decrees which called for amputation of hands and ears, and branding of the forehead, for various
    criminal offences including theft and army desertion. These punishments were introduced apparently in response to the rising crime rate resulting from worsening economic conditions in Iraq.

  • about the shadowy group from the West πŸ™‚

    More seriously, this is quite interesting, because in that area, to me, the amputations are most definitely from ancient ‘eye-for-eye’ Mideast tribal culture, i.e., the Old Testament et. al. And I think Uday probably understood that and was using that. (Secondary that it was also agreeable to his sadistic personality.)

    Definitely not “Islamic” in any special way that I can see from reading on it since I started this thread. It is the Saudis, the Talibans, etc., that continue the tradition, those with the strongest allegiance to old tribal ways?

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