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November 28, 2007

News of our deaths greatly exaggerated, say Iraqi journalist's family

Voice of Iraq reported on Monday that gunmen in Eastern Baghdad slaughtered 11 relatives of an Iraqi journalist over the weekend.

I blogged the story as fact, so a major correction is in order.

It turns out that the alleged victims are very much alive, and very angry at the family member who reported that they had been murdered en masse:

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The angry family of an Iraqi journalist went on local television on Wednesday to blast him for claiming they had been massacred three days ago by Shiite militiamen in Baghdad.

"We are still alive. Thank God!" the sister of the journalist said, before bursting into tears.

The journalist, Dia al-Kawwaz, had said she was among the 11 family members slaughtered by militamen on Sunday in his home in Baghdad's northern Al-Shaab neighbourhood.

Al-Hurrah television paraded the relatives of Kawwaz, clearly alive -- and clearly angry.

"No one attacked us ... militias or special forces. Nobody stormed our home. He even organised a condolence meeting to mourn our deaths. But we are alive. We are ashamed that he is our brother," said the sister, wearing a green dress and headscarf. [AFP]

Nobody knows why the journalist reported his family dead and held a wake for them.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) adds a further surreal twist to this story: The journalist in question later wrote that his non-dead family had been "pressured to deny the facts."

This bizarre scam should not be allowed to overshadow the fact that violence against journalists is a very real problem in Iraq. Since the US invasion, 206 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq and 14 have been kidnapped. Two media workers are still missing. The most recent victim was 27-year-old reporter Shehab Mohammed al-Hitti, whose body was discovered in northern Baghdad on Oct. 27th.  


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>The journalist in question later wrote that his non-dead family had been "pressured to deny the facts."

"Rumors of my life have been greatly exaggerated."

...but are the "living" family members actually zombies?

Gosh, when did I first get a sense that the Iraq project was veering into the surreal?

During the run-up in 2002 when we were warned that Saddam Hussein had developed remote-controlled drones that turned out to be balsa and styrofoam affairs powered by leaf-blower engines?

When reading a report that the invasion was only days away based on the prescient and accurate report that troops in Kuwait were being issued packaged, pre-moistened baby ass-wipes?

When Collin Powell gave a “news conference” at the UN to hype the war in front of a reproduction of Picasso's Guernica that had been curtained over for the occasion?

When I picked up the paper one morning to see on the front fucking page that the President of the United States was prancing about in a flight suit with a pair of socks stuffed into the crotch?

When reading about dogs eating a headless corpse in a Baghdad street?

Upon seeing the photo of Pfc. Lynndie England with the dog leash and the naked Iraqi prisoner?

Upon reading of Pfc. Lynndie England’s trial and conviction with no co-defendants ranking higher than sergeant?

When hearing of Dubya crowing about being a “wartime president”?

One could go on for a month. Nothing coming from Iraq is surprising anymore.

Genuinely good news from Iraq is surprising, and I'd say this qualifies. I hope every last one of the formerly deceased has a long and happy life.

cfrost -- maybe it was September 23, 2001, when the BBC reported that some of the 9/11 hijackers were alive and well. [clicky]

Oh... no time for that. Bin Laden has a "new video" out.

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