Thursday, September 03, 2009

Desperate measures






Yesterday a British corpse surfaced in Baghdad. A somber UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced the cameras to issue a statement. Via ITN News (video link):

Gordon Brown: It's with the deepest regret that the body passed to the British embassy today is now discovered to be that of Alec Maclachlan. My thoughts, and I believe the thoughts of the whole country, are with the Maclachlan family at this time of great grief. No family should have to endure what they have gone through. The loss through the hostage taking, then the period of silence and not knowing what was happening and now to find that their loved one is lost -- Our thoughts are also with the families of those people who are the other hostages. We are demanding of the hostage takers that they now give us information about the whereabouts of Alan McMenemy and return Peter Moore who we still believe to be alive as soon as is possible. We will pursue these hostage takers. There is no justification for what they've done. And we are working with the Iraqi government at every point to ensure that we get information to the relatives, we get the return of the others and, at the same time, we bring the hostage takers to justice. That is what every family should expect of us and that is what we are going to do.

May 29, 2007 the League of Righteousness kidnapped five British citizens in Baghdad. Three are known to be dead: Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan. Alan McMenemy is assumed dead (but that is not known) and Peter Moore is thought alive. Yesterday Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) explained, "The men were abducted by gunmen posing as policemen by a group calling itself League of the Righteous, a group of Shia militants. They were recently understood to have been seeking to enter mainstream politics in Iraq, but attempts to release the hostages through dialogue have proved fruitless." The Daily Mail noted that the League of the Righteous had earlier attempted to use the five hostages to broker a release of "nine Iraqi militants" at Camp Cropper (the leader and his brother were two and, again, they were released in June) and that this "is Britain's longest running hostage crisis since Terry Waite and John McCarthy who were held for nearly five years in Lebanon in the 1980s." Nouri is very close with the League and last week Eli Lake (Washington Times) reported that Ahmed Chalabi was as well.

Today Oliver August (Times of London) reports, "Mr MacLachlan, who is from Llanelli, south Wales, died from multiple gunshots in what appears to have been an execution. According to sources close to the investigation, the killing took place quite some time ago, possibly last year, given the partly decomposed state of the body." BBC News' Frank Gardner states, "When I last met the men's families, they were still hoping reports of more deaths were untrue." He's referring to the announcement a month and a half ago by the British government about their believing Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy were dead. The families remained hopeful due to the fact that there were no bodies.

The League of Righteous is now responsible for the murders of three British citizens and is assumed to be holding 2 more and they are also responsible for an attack on US forces in which 5 US soldiers (Brian S. Freeman, Jacob N. Fritz, Johnathan B. Chism, Shawn P. Falter and Johnathon M. Millican) were slaughtered. Because the League of Righteousness is Nouri's best buddy, the UK and the US apparently have decided to humor the organization. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reported on the release by the US military of Laith al-Khazali (the ringleader of the group) and his brother. At the end of July BBC News' Humphrey Hawksley (link has video and text) filed this report:

Humphrey Hawksley: Alan [McMenemy] from Dunbarton, Alec [Maclachlan] from South Wales believed to be two more victims in this long running Iraq hostage tragedy. Security guards whose colleagues Jason Swindlehurst from Lancaster and Jason Creswell from Glasgow were shot dead, their bodies recovered last month. There's hope that Peter Moore, the IT specialist they were protecting, is still alive. This is the fortified Finance Ministry in central Baghdad from where the five men were kidnapped more than two years ago in May 2007 in a highly organized operation. Forty men wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi police drove up surrounded the building and took the hostages off to a secret location. For moths there was no news then, in November, there came a video from Jason Swindlehurst and, three months later, another from Peter Moore. He called for the release of nine Shia Iraqis being held by the Americans, release them so we can go, he said. And a year ago Alan asked the British government to try to get them home as soon as possible. The Foreign Office has adopted a low profile, softly-softly approach although the families did speak out from time to time hoping their voices might lead to the freedom of their loved ones. But nothing until last month. Thousands of suspected insurgents are being held in Iraq but are slowly being released. On June 7th, one of the nine referred to in Peter Moore's appeal was freed. Twelve days later, the two bodies were recovered. They'd been shot some time earlier. It's not know if there was a connection. The hope now is that somewhere in the dangerous world of Iraqi militias, Peter Moore is alive with a chance of being released. Humphrey Hawksley, BBC News.

Oliver August includes an interesting aside deep in his report, "The staggered return of the hostages is part of a quid-pro-quo deal brokered by the Iraqi Prime Minister, who met representatives of the kidnappers two months ago. The League of the Righteous has apparently renounced violence and is seeking to enter the open political process ahead of parliamentary elections next year." Nouri and his friends are so very close. Some say it was this close nature that allowed them to successfully kidnap 5 British citizens to begin with.

July 29th, the families of the hostages held a press conference. Haley Williams is the mother of Alec's child and she spoke at the press conference noting the British government's statements that Alec and Alan were thought to be dead.

Haley Williams: These reports are the worst possible news for us but we continue to hope that they cannot be true. But whatever Alec's condition, he no longer should remain in Iraq. We appeal to those holding him to please send him home to us. I speak to you as the mother of Alec's son. We are not the people holding your men but I do understand your feelings cause you're going through the same pain we are going through. If we had any influence over the release of your men we would release them to you but we don't. Please send him home because as a family we can't cope with this anymore."

The release of the third body had been widely anticipated since members of the Righteous League were hosted by the Iraqi prime minister, Nour al-Maliki, in July. The group, which has strong links to the Lebanese Hezbollah, has been campaigning for political legitimacy in the run-up to national elections in January.Britain has maintained a policy of not negotiating with the hostage takers and moves towards the release of the captives have been handled by Iraqi mediators, who have attempted to convince them that legitimacy will remain out of reach as long as they hold hostages.
In one positive sign, the group promised in August to lay down its weapons and join the political process. Over the past three months, up to 15 high-profile members of the Righteous League have been freed from American custody in Iraq.

Today the US military issued the following announcement: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed and five wounded in a vehicle rollover accident in the Diyala province of northern Iraq Sept. 2. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." ICCC is currently down [they note a server crash and that they are working to get the site back up] but the announcement should bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4338. (It was 4336 on Sunday.) We'll stay with today's reported violence.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which resulted in five people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting the Sahwa ("Awakenings" or "Sons Of Iraq") which resulted in eight people being injured (four were Sahwa), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, another Mosul roadside bombing which injured two people, a third Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, a fourth Mosul roadside bombing which injured three people, a Babil car bombing and four other Babil bombings which claimed 4 lives and left sixty-five people wounded, a Baquba car bombing which wounded four people, a roadside bombing outside Karbala which claimed 2 lives and left three people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Tal Afar suicide bomber who invaded a home and killed the wife and husband and then detonated his bomb when the police showed up wounding seven of them and an Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a Mussayab bombing at a mosque which claimed 4 lives and left twenty-four people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Ramadi suicide bombing that left five people wounded (four were police).

July 28th was when the assault on Camp Ashraf by Nouri al-Maliki's 'troops' began. During Saddam's time, Iranian exiles were allowed safe harbor in Iraq. The exiles were leftists who were opposed to the religious fundamentalist leaders following the toppling of the Shah (the exiles did not favor the Shah). They utilized violence and are known as the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran or the MEK. They remained in Iraq in the 80s, the 90s and this decade. The European Union and England are among the organizations and countries that listed the MEK as a terrorist group -- past tense. The MEK has renounced violence and was removed from the terrorist listing. The US still has the MEK listed as a terrorist organization. There were efforts to remove it from that listing by Congress beginning in 2008; however, the previous administration wasn't interested in that or anything else to do with MEK. It is a hot button issue and it was ignored repeatedly by the Bush administration. This is one of the hot potatoes dropped into the current administration's lap.

Repeating (for friends in the administration who have become whiners), Camp Ashraf is a hot potato that was dropped into the lap of the current administration. The outgoing administration made promises to Nouri and promises to Camp Ashraf. They also declared it protected under the Geneva Conventions.

While it was a hot potato and unexpected, they were aware of how serious it was following the election. (To be clear, it was an obvious problem prior to the election and any observer could have known that. It was only after the election, during the weeks of information being passed on and relayed from outgoing to incoming, that they realized just how explosive it was due to a lot of empty promises made to both sides by the Bush administration. As that became clear, it was tasked to two people who were supposed to lead on the issue. They did not lead. They carved it out and removed it from the State Dept -- long before Hillary was asked to be Secretary of State -- and were supposed to lead on the issue. They did not lead. That is among the reasons -- there are at least four primary ones -- that Vice President Joe Biden was recently put in charge of Iraq.)

As happened with the Bush administration in the fall of 2008, Nouri promised that he had no intention of assaulting Camp Ashraf. (To its credit, the Bush administration strongly suspected Nouri was lying. They were right.)

AP's Kim Gamel files an in-depth report on Camp Ashraf and notes the video of the US military (who protected Camp Ashraf prior to the start of 2009) near the camp as the assault begins, with bloodied camp residents pleading for help to US "soldiers [who] get into a white SUV and roll up their windows as the bloodied men plead for help."

Well they bellowed, and they hollered

And they threw each other down
Down in this valley
This cruel and lovely valley
Oh it should have been an alley
In some low down part of town

As the lights came up
There was no sun
And brandy splattered all over the ground
As this woman with her head held high
Yelled love and why oh why
You're killing me, oh follow me
As I watched safe and clean
From the frosted windows of my limousine

-- "Memorial Day," written by Carly Simon, from her album Spy.

[Spy features the classic "Never Been Gone" and it is among the songs she's redone for Never Been Gone, Carly's latest (and mainly acoustic) album which will be released October 27th. (The album also contains two new compositions.)]

Gamel quotes an anonymous "senior US military official" stating, "We could not become decisively engaged with a situation that really is up to the sovereign Iraqi government to settle in a peaceful manner as they have assured us that they would do. Even in a situation that allowed engagement, we didn't have nearly the amount of forces present to jump in the middle of this fray."

So why is the US military still in Iraq? Why is a long 'withdrawal' of "combat" troops planned when that will only create more moments where the US military can't step forward and watches as an assault takes place. Which is one of the scenarios then-Senator Joe Biden tossed out during an April 2008 Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing he chaired. Another was that the US military remaining on the ground in Iraq would be utilized to prop up Nouri's government and attack Iraqi civilians. So why is the US not leaving immediately and quickly? Exactly how long will thug of the occupation Nouri be humored?

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

"US military announces the deaths of 2 US soldiers"

"The bank robbery, the assault on Camp Ashraf"

"Imprisoning reporters"




"The VA betrays Josef Lopez"

"Guns & Butter, community weekend schedule"

"Keiffer Wilhelm's family needs to get to Iraq"

"Esther Armah is an idiot"

"WBAI embraces the homophobe"

"Jessica Ramirez and Debra Sweet"

"He needs attention"


No comments: