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Baghdad: A Journalist Trap - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The armed Iraqi terrorist groups display much brutality and professionalism in hunting their victims whether by killing, bombing or abducting them. The latest victim, American journalist Jill Carroll was leaving the residence of Iraqi Accord Front leader, Adnan Al Dulaimi, when unidentified men attacked her and her interpreter. Later, the interpreter was killed and thrown on to the road, while the young journalist was taken to an unknown place.

This is not the first time that armed groups have felt such confidence in moving around freely in Iraq, including the most sensitive and secure of areas. It further seems that the choice of a female and western journalist was not unintentional, especially as the noose tightens around many of the terrorist networks.

It appears from the last operation that women are at the center of the Al Zarqawi’s plans whether the women are suicide bombers or imprisoned hostages. On the other hand, reports from Iraq affirm that the Iraqi and the American forces resort to a similar strategy by abducting female members of the families of armed groups to force them to give up their activities.

It seems that women have become the new weapon in the present fight in Iraq. The abduction of Jill Carroll will initiate intense discussion concerning the status of Iraqi women and women in general during the war in Iraq. However, the continuation of targeting journalists will impede discussions regarding such quintessential issues for Iraqi journalists or any other journalists for that matter. Perhaps the only media discussion will be very broad one, to the extent that it would be superficial if not obscuring.

Since spring 2004, 36 journalists have been abducted in Iraq, and in some cases, have been killed. The largest number of victims has been Iraqi journalists. Amidst such reality, we could not expect any serious journalism to take hold in Iraq and this is a major loss considering that there is much potential for press stories in Iraq. Coverage should not be restricted to military or suicide operations as dozens of stories that accompany such events in Iraq are left untold.

A photo of Jill Carroll taken before her abduction was shown in the media in which she wore a headscarf. Those who know Carroll wrote about her peaceful character and described her as a woman who loves the Iraqis and sought to depict their sufferings. The Christian Science Monitor ran a column in which it emphasized that they employed Jill only as a freelancer and not as regular full time staff. This aimed to rule out any confusion that may lead terrorists to identify her as a Christian fanatic and associate her with a Christian newspaper that may cause her more suffering.

It is easy to understand the frustrated attempts of Carroll’s parents, colleagues, and friends in publishing as many veiled pictures of Carroll as possible, emphasizing her love and respect for Iraqis and dissociating her from Christianity, all to deny the kidnappers an excuse to harm her. However, this will increase the contentment of the hostage takers with the effectiveness of their methods. We, however, are more confident of the conclusion that Iraq has not only become a closed area in terms of security and safety, but also with regard to the media.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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