Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Murder of Atwar Bahjat

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette posts the graphic details of the murder of Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat.

Although the brutal murder occurred on February 22, video footage captured on what is believed to have been a mobile phone, shows that the murder was much more gruesome and barbaric than earlier reported.

Greyhawk posted this excerpt from TimesOnline with a graphic content warning that should be heeded here as well:

Two men drove up in a pick-up truck, asking for her. She appealed to a small crowd that had gathered around her crew but nobody was willing to help her. It was reported at the time that she had been shot dead with her cameraman and sound man.

We now know that it was not that swift for Bahjat. First she was stripped to the waist, a humiliation for any woman but particularly so for a pious Muslim who concealed her hair, arms and legs from men other than her father and brother.

Then her arms were bound behind her back. A golden locket in the shape of Iraq that became her glittering trademark in front of the television cameras must have been removed at some point — it is nowhere to be seen in the grainy film, which was made by someone who pointed a mobile phone at her as she lay on a patch of earth in mortal terror.

By the time filming begins, the condemned woman has been blindfolded with a white bandage.

It is stained with blood that trickles from a wound on the left side of her head. She is moaning, although whether from the pain of what has already been done to her or from the fear of what is about to be inflicted is unclear.

Just as Bahjat bore witness to countless atrocities that she covered for her television station, Al-Arabiya, during Iraq’s descent into sectarian conflict, so the recording of her execution embodies the depths of the country’s depravity after three years of war.

A large man dressed in military fatigues, boots and cap approaches from behind and covers her mouth with his left hand. In his right hand, he clutches a large knife with a black handle and an 8in blade. He proceeds to cut her throat from the middle, slicing from side to side.

Her cries — “Ah, ah, ah” — can be heard above the “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) intoned by the holder of the mobile phone.

Even then, there is no quick release for Bahjat. Her executioner suddenly stands up, his job only half done. A second man in a dark T-shirt and camouflage trousers places his right khaki boot on her abdomen and pushes down hard eight times, forcing a rush of blood from her wounds as she moves her head from right to left.

Only now does the executioner return to finish the task. He hacks off her head and drops it to the ground, then picks it up again and perches it on her bare chest so that it faces the film-maker in a grotesque parody of one of her pieces to camera.

The voice of one of the Arab world’s most highly regarded and outspoken journalists has been silenced. She was 30.

Greyhawk adds:

Other gruesome details from a family friend: She had nine drill holes in her right arm and 10 in her left, he said. The drill had also been applied to her legs, her navel and her right eye.

Greyhawk provides additional background and details that should serve as a reminder of the truly barbaric nature of these thugs the mainstream media refers politely to as "insurgents".

The true face of the enemy is commonly hidden by such innocuous terms in an effort to paint America and its coalition partners as the true enemy in this conflict. This is truly a battle of good vs. evil; unquestionably and undeniably evil.

This should not be confused with colateral damage inflicted by a legitimate military foe following time-honored rules of engagement. This was nothing more than a cold, calculated, and barbaric murder of an innocent civilian by an enemy that uses religion as the justification for their actions.

One simply cannot turn a blind eye to the evil that exists in other lands and react with astonishment the day it appears in your own backyard. This evil must be recognized and defeated before it gets to that point.

Jeff Goldstein puts it this way:

What is important is that, as Greyhawk notes in the introduction to his post, this type of showy brutality “is typical of the work of Islamic terrorists,” and is useful for those who wish a “bit of insight into the nature of the enemy in this global war.”

Our own media feels the need to shield us from such brutality, even as they report daily on the US and Iraqi death count—or seemed almost to fetishize the torture photos from Abu Ghraib.

But presuming to protect us from the nature of our enemy, like many of the MSM’s other actions in framing the war on terror, is irresponsible—and either presumptuously paternalistic, or cynically calculating.

True, there is a fine line between “war porn” and the dissemination of information. But we nevertheless have the right to know who it is we are fighting. Because knowing just might have an impact on how we, as a country, feel about the necessity of carrying out the fight—and how far we are willing to go to see our enemy vanquished.

Are you awake yet?

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