Thursday, July 14, 2005

Khalid Jarrar in jail

Earlier today, one of my online friends sent me an urgent message telling me to check Raed Jarrar's blog:

My mom called me today at 7 in the morning, shouting with happiness: "Khalid is okay!". Niki and I were the last members of the family to know the "happy news". Khalid called my dad from the Iraqi mokhabarat's jail to inform us he was alive; he said he was abducted by the mukhabarat men from his university. My dad called my mom and Majed, and they informed us then.

It seems Raed's brother Khalid (who also has a blog) was arrested by the Mukhabarat (secret police) at his university (where he was probably checking his grades) and thrown in jail two days ago. This morning, Khalid was able to call his father in Jordan to let him know where he is and that he is okay.

I have spoken to Khalid a few times via Instant Messenger, most recently this past Friday. When I spoke to him on Friday, he was cracking jokes about the guys who broke into his house, and talking about his anxiety about his final grades from university (as of last week, he didn't know for sure whether he'd passed his exams or not). Now, today I find out he's spent part of the last week sitting in jail.

This whole situation is a bit surprising and troubling for me. My first reaction on reading this story was, "what mukhabarat?" Wasn't this the state agency that Saddam Hussein used to maintain his iron grip on power? Why are we still hearing about something called mukhabarat after so many of our troops died fighting to get rid of entities like this in Iraq? And what interest would this mukhabarat have in arresting a guy whose only crime was to run a blog from Baghdad and star in a Canadian television special? Sure, Khalid was critical of the administration in Iraq and of the US army, but we are all entitled to our opinions, and in any case, Khalid's opinions are much more moderate than some of the opinions I've heard over here in America.

One other thing that is curious here is that Khalid's house in Baghdad was broken into a week or so ago. The thieves did not steal his entire computer, but removed his hard drive. I wonder if whoever broke into his house was from this same government agency that arrested him - perhaps they found something on his hard drive they didn't like.

In any case, I do hope that Khalid being allowed to call his father in Jordan is a good sign: hopefully this means he is being treated well, and might even be released soon.