Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Kidnapping and Murder in Baghdad

Updates below

Original Post: January 9

It has been tough to blog for the past few days. On Saturday, an American freelance reporter named Jill Carroll was kidnapped by gunmen, and her Iraqi translator, a man named Allan Enwiyah, was killed. My friend Fayrouz had written a blog post (complete with the reporter's name) but later took the reporter's name down at the request of the organization trying to negotiate her release. I've been holding my tongue over the past couple of days out of respect for her and that organization, but now that her employer, the Christian Science Monitor has released an article on the topic including her name, and other news organizations including the New York Times have picked up the story also, I should be safe talking about it now too.

While I don't know Jill myself, she is a good friend of Baghdad Treasure, a fellow blogger and friend of mine who I had the pleasure of meeting over dinner a few weeks ago in New York. Earlier today, BT was so bothered by kidnapping he was beside himself with tears. Fortunately, BT was able to pull together enough composure to write a blog post talking about his friend, which is well worth reading.

I've been reading all the coverage about this crime, and as I see it, the whole think reeks of a setup. I have some more specific thoughts on the issue, but since Jill is still being held captive, I will keep them private (for now) out of concern for her.

Perhaps the saddest element to this story is the translator, 32 year old Allan Enwiyah (at left), who was shot twice in the head and dumped at the side of the road by Jill's kidnappers. The Christian Science Monitor article shows a picture of him (at left), a beaming father holding his infant son. It is difficult to look at this picture and think of that little boy growing up without his father at his side. The kidnappers targeted Jill Carroll because she is American - possibly because she works for an American news company with deep pockets to pay ransom. But Allan Enwiyah was just an Iraqi; someone the kidnappers saw as a piece of human detritus fit for nothing more than a quick bullet in his head at the side of the road. The kidnappers has no reason to murder Allan, they could have just as easily thrown him out of the car and allowed him to go home to his family. Instead, they murdered him in cold blood just out of spite, and robbed his wife of a husband and his young children of a father.

As a father myself, this picture is difficult to look at without feeling tears welling in my eyes. And, so, while most news organizations seem to be glossing over Allan Enwiyah as just another dead Iraqi, I am dedicating this post to him and his memory. May he rest in peace.

My thoughts and prayers tonight are with Jill Carroll, with Jill's friends, and with the family and friends of her translator Allan Enwiyah.

Update: January 10

I was talking with my friend Fayrouz this morning and she had a great idea. She has setup a PayPal donations button on her blog, to allow people to donate money to help Allan Enwiyah's widow through this traumatic time. It is difficult for a woman to raise small children by herself in the best of circumstances, think about how hard this will be for this poor woman in Iraq. I've added this domations button to my blog sidebar as well.

Update: January 18

Last night, the kidnappers holding American journalist Jill Carroll released a video of her to al-Jazeera, threatening to kill her in 72 hours if the US does not release all female Iraqi prisoners it is holding. As detailed by the Christian Science Monitor and al-Jazeera, since the video's release, there has been a nearly universal cry for Jill's release, including from groups that are usually supporters of Iraqi insurgents: groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the Muslim Scholars' Association in Iraq. Even al-Jazeera released its own statement as it played the video condemning violence against journalists and urging the kidnappers to release Jill unharmed.

One of the first things I noticed about the video of Jill (the image at right) is her appearance. While she looked tired, and her hair was a bit messy, she does not have the bedraggled appearance one would expect for someone who has been held by kidnappers for ten days, which suggests she has been well treated.

I suspect the kidnappers may be taken aback by the amount of sympathy Jill has gotten from many different corners. Perhaps they are even second-guessing themselves in what they are doing.

My thoughts and prayers are with Jill today and with all her friends and family. I am also praying for her kidnappers - that they may feel some sympathy, realize the error in their ways, and release Jill unharmed.