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Thursday, August 04, 2005

American Journalist/Blogger Assassinated in Iraq

From the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 3 - An American journalist from New York who was writing about the rise of conservative Shiite Islam and the corruption of the Iraqi police was abducted and shot dead Tuesday evening in the southern port city of Basra, American and Iraqi officials said Wednesday. The reporter's interpreter was also shot and is hospitalized in serious condition.

The reporter, Steven C. Vincent, an art critic and freelance writer who had worked in Basra for months, was the first American journalist to be attacked and killed during the war. A handful of American journalists have died in vehicle accidents or from illness.

Mr. Vincent's body was found late Tuesday less than three miles north of the city center. He had been shot three times in the chest, a hospital official said, and the body was dumped in the street. His hands were tied in front with plastic wire; there were bruises on his face and right shoulder, and a strand of red tape that had apparently been used to blindfold him hung loosely around his neck.

An officer in the Basra police department said Mr. Vincent had been working on an article about the role of policemen in the recent assassinations of former Baath Party officials.

On Sunday, The New York Times Op-Ed page printed an article that Mr. Vincent had written about the British military in Basra, in which he sharply criticized the British for allowing religious Shiite parties and clerics to take control of Basra and populate the security forces with their followers.

He wrote that a police lieutenant had confirmed that a few fellow officers were carrying out assassinations of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, apparently in revenge for the oppression of Shiites.

"He told me that there is even a sort of 'death car': a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment," Mr. Vincent wrote.

Conservative Shiite parties have strengthened their hold on Basra since the elections in January, and many members of Shiite militias have joined the police force.

You can see Vincent's blog here, and an obituary with a bunch of links to various articles at NRO here.

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