January 21, 2007

Hussein of Cards

And finally, we get to the truth of the matter:

AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll indignantly attacked those who had questioned the global news organization's reporting: "I never quite understood why people chose to disbelieve us about this particular man on this particular story," she told Editor and Publisher. "AP runs hundreds of stories a day, and has run thousands of stories about things that have happened in Iraq."

Well, Bryan Preston and I visited the area during our Iraq trip last week. Several mosques did, in fact, come under attack by Mahdi Army forces. But the "destroyed" mosques all still stand. Iraqi and U.S. Army officials say that two of them received no fire damage whatsoever. Another, which we filmed, was abandoned and empty when it was attacked.

WE obtained summary reports and photos filed at the time by Iraqi and U.S. Army troops on the scene. They contain no corroborating evidence of Hussein's claim that "Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene."

There is more, much more, in Michelle's NY Post article, and I suggest that you take the time to read it all, but the heart of the matter is that AP's reporters seem to have greatly exaggerated what took place in Hurriyah on November 24.

Not a single mosque was "burned and blew up" as AP reported, though they did come under some small arms fire and two were attacked with primitive Molotov cocktails. Not a single soul died in an "inferno" at the al-Muhaimin (var. al Muhaymin) mosque, much less the 18 including women and children, as reported by an al-Qaeda-aligned group (the Association of Muslim Scholars) that the AP wouldn't even identify as extremists as other news organizations have done.

AP's most graphic element, missing from all other news organizations' coverage of Shia attacks in Hurriyah and elsewhere, was a single-sourced report by longtime AP source Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein (an apparent pseudonym) that six men had been pulled from the al-Mustafa mosque, doused in kerosene, and burned alive. While al-Mustafa was subject to small arms fire and an attack with a crude incendiary device, no one was pulled into the street and immolated.

The Associated Press reporting of the incident in Hurriyah doesn't stand up.

And did I mention that this wasn't the only account sourced to Jamil Hussein that cannot be corroborated?

* * *

I've continued to do some digging into one of the stories sourced to Jamil (not really) Hussein, the alleged assassination of Iraqi Police Captain Amir Kamil on June 20, 2006.

According to AP:

Elsewhere in the capital, police Capt. Amir Kamil, who provided security for Yarmouk hospital, was shot to death Tuesday at a bus station, Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

Unlike most of Hussein's rather vague claims, this one provided specific detail I could attempt to follow up on. We know the name of the victim, who he worked for, where he worked, and at what rank, and even know how and where (in general terms) he was killed.

Unlike all of AP's other stories sourced to Jamil Hussein (including the Hurriyah attacks), this story even has a picture associated with it.

A caption provided with the picture in a sidebar here reads:

Two friends of police Capt. Amir Kamil comfort each other at al-Yarmouk hospital after he was shot...

It seems like this story could be easily verified, doesn't it? Alas, that is not the case. As I noted previously, I was unable to find any English-language stories from other news agencies corroborating the AP's claim of Captain Kamil's assassination. A reader with Lexis-Nexis access reported the same.

Hoping to run it down through other channels, I asked CPATT and MNC-I to also try to verify this account, and turned it over to a journalist with solid ties to the Arab Press (the journalist wishes to remain anonymous) to see if any local Iraqi or Middle Eastern Press agencies might have corroborating accounts. Previously, they (CPATT, MNC-I, Arab media contacts) were able to confirm the assassination of Iraqi Defense Ministry employee Mohammed Musaab Talal al-Amari. To date, the al-Amari murder remains the only Jamil Hussein account of 40 I investigated that was conclusively corroborated.

Two sources, CPATT and MNC-I PAO, often work together on MOI related issues, and this is what MNC-I PAO Lt. Michael Dean was able to relay to me via email about police deaths reported to MNF-I in Baghdad on June 20:

Mr. Owens:

On June 20, 2006, MNCI has reports of only 2 incidents that
involved the deaths of Iraqi Police.

1) At 11:28 a.m., the Iraqi Police reported murder of 1 civilian (unknown employment) and 2 National Police officers. Mehmond Hamade's corpse was reported to be located at the Kadhimiya Hospital (northern Baghdad on east side of Tigris). Also, the heads of two 1-1 National Police officers, NOC Monsa Uttawi and SGM Mehmond Muter Lefta, were discovered in the Tigris.

2) A 4.5-hour small arms fire incident in Al Rasafah in eastern Baghdad (Yarmok is on the western side of Tigris) during the afternoon of June 20 beginning at approximately 1:30 p.m. resulted in one Iraqi Police officer killed, one Iraqi Police officer wounded, 2 Iraqi soldiers wounded, 5 civilians killed and 5 civilians wounded. The incident consisted of small arms fire being received from nearby building. No mention of the name of the Iraqi Police officer killed.

LT Dean

He adds:

Please keep in mind that MNCI is not the collector of all information regarding incidents involving Iraqi Security Forces, including police.

Neither event even remotely describes the bus station assassination described by Jamil Hussein, though Lt. Dean mentions that they do not collect all information regarding police casualties and deaths.

A report from my journalistic source indicates that his Arab media contacts could not easily turn up Arab-language accounts of Captain Kamil's assassination as they had been able to in the al-Amari murder, and that they would attempt to dig deeper. He also cautioned that there might be no "definitive answer."

No definitive answers, and no corroborating accounts.

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Update: Michelle has photos of the not-quite blown up mosques at

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 21, 2007 07:59 AM | TrackBack

I still don't understand the LLLogic here:

The AP makes wild claims about burned mosques and people, and attributes them to an Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein, as it had done with 60 other stories.

The Dextrosphere smells something fishy, and questions this particular story, the existence of "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein", and the veracity of the other stories that name him as source.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry says there is no "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein". The AP says there damn well is, but slowly backs away from many of the original wild claims in the burning story.

Weeks later, the AP says the IIM admits there IS an "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein". A few days later, they explain that "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein" was actually a pseudonym, and that there is in fact an "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil (Not Hussein)".

If "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein" were a pseudonym, journalistic ethics would require the first use of that name in every story clearly identify it as such. But that isn't what the AP did. Nor has any independent source corroborated any of the specific 'facts' expressed by "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein" in any of the stories.

And the Levosphere says this all proves how delusional WE are for not believing in the existence and/or veracity of "Iraqi Police Capt. Jamil Hussein" all along. Even though virtually everything in the story that started this mess has been changed by the AP, even as it 'stands by' it.

Posted by: The Monster at January 21, 2007 01:00 PM

There exist some very uneasy parallels in the AP's "Iraqi Horror Ficture Show" and Durham's own "Tony and Tina's Bachelor Party".

It seems that the AP (and Reuters and the BBC and CNN et all) has mastered the art of painting a "ficture"...which is half picture (either word or fautograph) of what is "taking place" in Iraq and half fiction. More or less.

I should say more or less half...sometimes even a sprinkling of fact and a ton of fiction seems to be just fine with them as well..

Whereupon, all the neo-Socialists (World Populists or Citizens Of the World-[COWS], if you prefer) shout back the same lines day after day in rote memorized glee...and marvel at just how clever they are to all know the very moment to recite their audience participation well rehearsed parts.

We have parallel scripts with accompanying subplots that spiral into the nether reaches of leftist inanity. We have 88 professors who dress up in Socialist Ninja outfits and go maruading across the due process landscape with reckless abandon as the Nifong Foo 88 flat keys on the PC piano all overstrung to the same high-pitched screeching note...clanging over and over and over again.

The "formula" audience participation scenes play out day after day, all with the same "message".

The TRUTH doesn't matter, the MESSAGE matters.

The 88 Nifong Foo Fighters will not back down from what should be as humiliating an exhibition as one could conjure...because in the theater of Socialist absurd...they don't see that the fabric of their "message" has suffered the slightest
tear. Who CARES about the TRUTH?...they screech.

WE assigned guilt long before these boys were even born, we have scripted who is going to be always right and who is going to be always wrong, now don't interrupt us as we recite the pre-scripted lines.

And the AP (and Reuters and BBC and CNN and NYTimes et al) says "Who CARES about the TRUTH?"..their headlines scream. Jamil Hussein is a CHARACTER in our prescripted "reporting" of the MESSAGE of "news". It doesn't matter if he exists, it doesn't matter if six Sunni's were immolated, it doesn't matter if we get even a KERNEL of the STORY correct...we are giving you the MESSAGE. That's all that matters.

We are giving you a "ficture" of what is happening in Iraq. And it's a's all Bush's fault and now go back and memorize when and what lines to recite when the appropriate moment comes along.

And remember this, says Orwell...."the leftists are CHAMPIONS of due process and CHAMPIONS of free speech and CHAMPIONS of women's rights against sexual harassment in the workplace and CHAMPIONS of long as they are all consistent with the MESSAGE."

Posted by: cfbleachers at January 21, 2007 02:53 PM

Excellent work, Bob. I added an excerpt and link to Jamilgate: U.S. officers tell Michelle Malkin “burning six” incident didn’t happen. I'm up to Part 42 of my Jamilgate series and the AP is still stonewalling? I'd love to say "unbelievable" but it isn't.

Posted by: Bill Faith at January 21, 2007 03:43 PM