January 09, 2006
The Guardian (UK) is reporting that an Iraqi journalist working for them received a very rough wake-up call:
American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children. Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.
Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.
The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned.
The director of the film, Callum Macrae, said yesterday: "The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.
"We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali's investigation."
Dr Fadhil was asleep with his wife, their three-year-old daughter, Sarah, and seven-month-old son, Adam, when the troops forced their way in.
"They fired into the bedroom where we were sleeping, then three soldiers came in. They rolled me on to the floor and tied my hands. When I tried to ask them what they were looking for they just told me to shut up," he said.
This story, as reported, is shocking and should result in an immediate investigation.
There is the distinct possibility that everything Dr. Fadhil says is accurate, at which point Central Command will have some serious explaining to do.
But as of the time I'm writing this article, every single post being written about this story comes from testimony provided by Dr. Fadhil himself in the Guardian, with no other witness testimony, or physical evidence provided to back his contentions. In addition, some of his charges do not seem to square with American tactics.
His case, as published, is thin.
The Guardian article has no concurring witnesses. In a city of 2 million, no one else heard shots or saw them enter Fadhil's home?
At the end of the article, Fadhil claims, "They rolled me on to the floor and tied my hands."
Tied? The American military does not generally tie up its prisoners, but instead uses handcuffs or nylon flexcuffs.
But the strongest evidence for or against Fadhil will be ballistic in nature.
The article seems to assert weapons discharges at two points: when the home invaders "blasted their way into the home," presumably breaching the door, and then, "firing bullets into the bedroom."
U.S forces sometimes use a breaching round to blast locks to gain entry into locked buildings, so I'd expect to find 12-gauge shotgun shell casings at or near the Fadhil family front door. The door should also show obvious signs of being breached, with shot-out locks.
I would also expect to find multiple 5.56mm NATO cartridge casings at, near, and possibly inside the bedroom, as well as bullet holes and 5.56mm bullet fragments.
If this physical evidence is not readily apparent, or the bullet holes, cartridge casings, and bullet fragments are not consistent with U.S weaponry… well, then we might have another kind of story on our hands entirely.
Jayson Ali Blair, anyone?
Note: In case anyone is wondering, the Ali Fadhil in this story is in no way related to the Fadhil family of Iraq the Model, which I confirmed with Omar Fadhil today.