When Seeing Is Not Believing

Unless you've spent the past week meditating on a mountaintop, you've watched the video everyone is talking about. It's the one where a US Marine walks into one of Fallujah's mosques and cold-bloodedly shoots a wounded, unarmed combatant in the head.

If the victim had been a dog or a horse, American indignation would have been palpable. But because the dead man is prejudged and demonized, he is automatically the bad guy, the wretched face of evil incarnate, while the US corporate media churns out a litany of psychobabble excuses for his trigger-happy killer.

Texas Democrat Sylvester Reyes blames the embedding of reporters for the public display of America's dirty laundry. "We should not be providing Al-Jazeera with the kind of propaganda they've had the last couple of days," he told the House Armed Services Committee. "We don't want to know everything that is happening on the field," he said in true "hear no evil, see no evil" style.

The bullyboy of Fox News Bill O'Reilly, far from holding the Marine accountable for his breach of the Geneva Conventions, targets the Qatar-based Arabic network. 

Proud that his "Factor" was the only show, which purposefully refrained from showing photographs and videos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, he blames Al-Jazeera for re-running the incriminating tape, claiming it foments hatred and endangers US troops.

O'Reilly, like America's newly anointed Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, appears to consider those clauses of the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners as "quaint". Translated, this applies only to non-Americans detained by the US and not the other way around.

If we cast our minds back to the invasion when five captured US soldiers were shown sipping tea on the now defunct Iraqi television, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bitterly complained the relaying of pictures showing prisoners of war violated the Geneva Conventions.

His views were echoed at the time by that dour Lebanese-American fellow Gen. John Abizaid, who went for Al-Jazeera's jugular at a press conference for re-broadcasting, and more recently singled out the network as portraying the US "as purposely targeting civilians".

While few would thus accuse the US, some believe the Pentagon has shown a callous indifference toward what it terms "collateral damage" leaving it to others to tally up its deadly handiwork. 

While civilian deaths and US military abuses are conveniently brushed aside by the Bush administration, and its mouthpiece Fox News, O'Reilly complains the tape showing the murder of Margaret Hassan was deliberately buried by Al-Jazeera. The network itself insists it was "too graphic to broadcast". 

So here we have it. According to O'Reilly, videos of the US military threatening naked detainees with attack dogs should not be seen by the sensitive viewing public, but the graphic murder of a female charity worker is par for the course.

Naturally, religious right-wingers like O'Reilly would love that tape to be broadcast over and over again because it reinforces the perception of the bestial insurgent while bolstering the invaders' moral high ground. In this way, he hopes, sickened and disgusted, we would all leap on to the crusading Bush bandwagon to fight the good fight.

This is pure speculation on my part but Al- Jazeera's reluctance may stem from the brewing debate over "who killed Margaret Hassan?"

British journalist Robert Fisk cleverly highlights the strange circumstances surrounding Margaret's kidnapping in a recent article. He writes: "So, if anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan's murder?" He concludes with the thought-provoking question: "Who gains from Margaret Hassan's death?

Certainly not the insurgency. Mrs. Hassan was married to an Iraqi, had dual British-Iraqi nationality, spoke fluent Arabic and was a convert to Islam. She had spent some 30 years caring for the Iraqi people and had been a vehement opponent of the US-led sanctions and invasion. So why was she taken in the first place? Even Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's ruthless band of thugs urged her immediate release."

Every crime has a motive. In the case of Mrs. Hassan it is difficult to see what this could be from the point of view of the resistance.

When compared to previous militant tapes, the videos of Mrs. Hassan pleading for her life were unique. There were no banners, no armed, masked men in the background, no claims of responsibility, and, in a departure from the usual decapitation, Margaret was hooded and shot.

Muslims rarely kidnap and kill women. In the 1980s, there was a spate of hostage taking in Lebanon but women were generally off limits.

When the fanatical Taleban captured the British journalist Yvonne Ridley during the invasion of Afghanistan she was well treated until she was set free at the Pakistani border.

In Iraq, two female Italian aid workers were taken and subsequently released, as were female members of Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's family and a woman with duel Polish-Iraqi citizenship. We may never know who killed Margaret Hassan but we do know who shot an injured man taking refuge in a place of worship. Both killings are reprehensible. Both killings are an affront to humanity. And both must be investigated and universally condemned.

A third contentious video showed Al-Zarqawi's Fallujah headquarters to which embedded journalists were taken on a guided tour. 

So nice of the terrorist to put up an Al-Qaeda sign on the wall just in case his visitors were confused about where they were, and it was even nicer of him to leave behind computers bursting with intelligence goodies so that all his friends and associates can be traced. Shades of the Jessica Lynch show, courtesy of Pentagon Productions, or evidence that America's enemy No. 2 is deficient in gray matter? You decide.

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be reached at: [email protected]

Source: Arab News

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Geneva Conventions, United States Of America
Views: 6343

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Older Comments:
Dino Demars: As the United States took the responsibility of "liberating" the Iraqi people, it was also their responsibility to maintain order and morality in the country, as occupiers of a foreign nation - instead it was they who were careless in not maintaining border check points, and not stopping citizens from mass looting. This is the real crime here, and the criminal is quite apparent. Maintaining Law and civil order were their responsibility since they undertook the task of "freeing" Iraq, right or wrong? It's not that hard to picture who allowed these ikhwaani al-muslimeen and guys blowing up Iraqi citizens to enter Iraq.

If Iraq can survive and carry on after 12 years of economic sanctions and regular bombins by the UK and US almost every other day for those same 12 years, where 1.5 million ppl died, and still be able to carry on...I think that says quite a bit about the potential that the citizens of Iraq have. People survive after a war.

And by the way, the reason for going into Iraq isn't perfectly crystal clear in the first place, so tell me now what has been achieved by the USA that Iraqi's have supposedly been the "losers" as you say? Nay...they survive, and it is despicable to be so arrogant to call them losers, even if you don't mean to demean them. They are suffering.

A person with a defeatist attitude is the one who usually ends up being defeated - Iraqi's have hope...it is their home.

Likewise, if Russia invaded the United States, I wouldn't think for a second that the American people have lost. Russians don't know America the way Americans know their own country. You see my point now?

But in the end Dino Demars, Iraqi's are still standing. They have had all of Baghdad being burnt to the ground when the Mongolians invaded; they have survived British occupation and carpet bombing in the early 20th century; they have survived and continue to survive today against invaders.

you see, you can take the man out of his country, but you can't take the country out of the man. The populatoin of Iraq is in the tens of millions. There are only 150,000 soldiers stationed in Iraq. If Iraqi's are losers, as you say, then each US soldier would have to monitor or be in charge of 250 Iraqi's...maybe more. Statistically it is impossible. Now think of this, as the US Military has stationed itself in Iraq for another 4 years for sure, let's say at least 10 more years, imagine all the other places in the world they are neglecting? How is is possible to control everyone at the same time.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of hte time, but never all of the people all the time.

I know your comment was straightforward - I simply happen to disagree with your opinion.

By the way - The people of Afghanistan are not finished, nor are the people of Chechnya. Nor are the people of Palestine. These are all still current ongoing issues. I believe that when you insinuate that the people of these countries are losers, then you are simply being rash in your judgement. Sit back a while more, and watch how things unfold. The future holds a great deal of mystery which no Military expert or outside observer is able to foretell.

In summation, the people or Iraq are winners because regardless of many having their most private rights beign violated, they have not yet given up hope on the thing they hold dearest to themselves...their Islam. They cannot lose you see.

To the Iraq People -

As an American citizen, I am ashamed. I think the images shown are barbaric and without just cause.

All people of the world must come together, regardless of faith to put a stop to this kind of madness.

I have the great privilege to know a very beautiful Muslim woman, who I consider a dear friend and someone who I care for very deeply. She has taught me how to be a more compassionate and kinder person just by her examples. I have been moved to tears reading about the horrors endured by the children of Iraq. I think of my own sons and what I would do if I ever lost one to senseless bombings or raids.

I have shown an interest in the teachings of Islam and I'm grateful my dear friend has patience with me and is helping me along the way to understanding; I'm a very fortunate man.

I still believe in the dream that America is a country where people from all walks of life can seek refuge from oppression and tyranny, where people can live without fear of being labeled because of cultural differences and beliefs. I fear that if we do not do something soon this dream will be lost forever.

As an American citizen, I apologize for the ignorance and arrogance my country has shown over the last few years. I also am sorry for the loss of all of your fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. I know that no amount of regret will bring them back; I just hope that a little regret from all of us will bring an end to all of this.

My hope is that the Iraqi people can again someday have the basic liberties that we enjoy here everyday.

Peace be with you.


Akbar Khan writes: "I'm sorry but it will eventually come to the point where one side will be the big loser. And no matter how you look at it,it won't be Iraqi's.."

I agree with your post, up until the text above. Unfortunately for Iraq, the rest of the Middle East, and the World in general, I don't think this will be the case. I think average Iraqi's are already the big losers. On one side, they have the US, on the other there are a wide range of militants bent on destabilizing the country. Their infrastructure has been destroyed, there is no law, and no end in sight. The US can't leave for political reasons, the militants won't stop for various reasons, some religious, some quite secular (ie, defeat the foreign invader).

See: Vietnam, Afghanistan and Chechnya. The US and Russia are doing relatively well. The people of those countries, however...

Hans, I respect your position; and agree with you, Akbar and the others, but please bear in mind that many of us don't agree with what's happening in Iraq. Many of us were led to believe (actually, we were told) that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons and was adding them to an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. Now, of course, its come to light that this wasn't the case. We were also told that we were going there to oust a dictator and give the populace their freedom (I think that this was what really got the public to get behind the invasion). Obviously, this sort of 'glorious mission' is overly simple and not a little naive. Personally, I think the actualy reason for the war wasn't just to secure oil reserves (although I'm sure that might be part of it), but also to establish a firm beachhead in the region where the US can build and maintain a presence that it could never do without precedent (i.e. invasion, with a purportedly justifiable pretext).
Now, we are already hearing rumblings about Iran; and a good source of mine in the military has informed that there are plans to reinstate the draft in 2006 (think about it, Bush is a lame duck, he can do what he wants now that re-election isn't an issue). Very, very, very scary.(although, to be honest, Iran having nuclear weapons scares me too, but military intervention would be sheer folly and a major disaster that cannot and must not happen)
But do not give up hope. All isn't lost. You've got to hear me: the American people really are a good people, I know in my heart that they are. They're just misinformed and misguided. It's up to us to address this and fix the problem. We've got to, there's too much at stake. Jesus said: "I give you another commandment: Love one another."
We are all children of God and must work together to make the world a better place. Peace be with you.

Good points Akbar. However trying to reason and talk sense into inane american war mongers is a lost cause.

News Flash: Al-Jazeera has NEVER been embedded with US troops, therefore it bears no responsibility in fomenting hate. Interestingly, if Al-Jazeera were to cease operations today, the general Arab public would be subject to either state-sponsored propaganda OR hearing vicious media reports in O'Reilly's style. It seems to me that it would be better if the Arab and Muslim world got their news from Al-Jazeera versus FoxNews and CNN. In that respect, the US Media Moguls (there's only a single handful of them) should be thankful to the Al-Jazeera Media Mogul (State of Qatar), as well as others who probably will spring up given democratization of the middle east.

AsSalaamu Alaikum WaRahmatuillahi WaBarakatuhu,

I think the article is right on the spot! I have been utterly disgusted by the behavior of a great many people here in my own country, racism is rampant and ignornace is bliss!I only pray for Allah SWT take some of this anger from me! Ameen

A clearly bias opinion, just as mine.

The word "reasonable" has become popular with the recent posters here. Let me ask you all a simple question - How do you know what is really going on in Iraq or Afghanistan when the only thing you know about what's happening there is based primarily on what you are told by "embedded" reporters? These reporters are not objective in their reporting, nor do they posess journalistic integrity anymore...it's all influenced by crap like using words such as "INSURGENTS" - How do you call a man who is from Iraq, lived in Fallujah all his life, an INSURGENT??? He is an Iraqi citizen of the state, who just doesn't want you. Like get real, I don't know how many times I have to reiterate this point...and as well I don't know how else to make people understand, so I say it like this. What if Russian Communism was the powerful force in the world, rather than America's system, and Russians were occupying Boston, or NYC???...And Russian media labeled American citizens Insurgents? What would you call all those crazy Militia's in places like Michigan...how would they be acting if Russians were trying to spread the 'wonderful' system of Communism in Michigan....do you really believe that Americans wouldn't be fighting the way Iraqi's are fighting in Iraq?

By the way...it will never end. Iraqi's living in their own country will never stop fighting, not matter how much you try to force them to b/c they just don't like you. Isn't Palestine clear enough for you as a perfect example of this? Doesn't that show you people that you cannot force a people who don't want you there to follow you, especially when they don't want anything to do with you?

I'm sorry but it will eventually come to the point where one side will be the big loser. And no matter how you look at it,it won't be Iraqi's...think about what I've just said and come to grips with reality...I mention no names here b/c accepting reality is up to you, or else just keep living in a pipe dream.

Without reading the full article...I was caught off-guard by the first response. To inform on something I have thought about. The law of Equality would make the Muslim liable for death so i think. But(a) there is a chance to save life in the Law of Equality (for those who...) (b)The Muslim was wounded and could not fight. THE COWARD WAS JUST SCARED TOO SCARED TO SEE HIM AGAIN maybe! the coward! Patty Mohammed I am a Muslim and I love my brother beyond Platos' reasoning. The HOLY QURAN is for the BELIEVERS when there are too many different variables for both sides to argue and reason is stretched thiiinnnn as in this case. Then you have to realize that you are MUSLIM. Listen! The Holy Quran goes beyond the boundries of humans so-called right reasoning this is why it is Holy this is proof that it is from our GOD! Allah! Please try and understand. I am trying to be alittle helpful from the little bit of experience I have acquired from this situation because both sides in a debate can prove a point! I was a soldier and yes I was a Muslim. I gave up the soldier to become a better Muslim. This is a matter of faith NOT REASON. To address seeing is NOT believing. I think it is simple the people are fooled. yes. But ultimately they allow themselves to be fooled and even stay fooled. Auoothu Bilahi mina Shaytan ir rajiim. This is bigger than our human Intellect and its being proven! As far as being able to think about the people as a whole and why they are doing this or that or that or this! Remember the Quran was given to man! And it is only a Message!

YAKUB said:
As-salaam alaykum,
Certainly we should consider the context that the marine acted in. If you listen to the clip you will hear him say he's "playing dead", twice, and shoot him. Why, if this one person "playing dead" was any threat, were the other three people "playing dead" not considered a threat and shot? Why was he not searched by someone, or ordered to show his hands before execution? Was the marine in question poorly trained or mentally deficient? I ask because there was also a man "playing dead" under a blanket, this is certainly a far more real security threat. He could have easily had a gun or bomb under the blanket with him, why was he not shot?
If you learn the facts not obvious on tape the story gets worse. The wounded insurgents had been disarmed and placed there by another unit that passed through the day before. Our marine's unit was not the even first on scene that day, a third group was present and holding the mosque when their unit arrived. They were regrouping, not going into unsecured territory. Did the marine believe that the group on scene failed to secure the area? Marines (and soldiers) must always take care not to second guess their comrades. All their lives are on the line. No, he most likely knew the man was no threat (unless you accept the mental deficient theory).
I am afraid that, all considered, the facts point to the marine killing that man simply because he believed he could.....and get away with it. This is the real reason why muslims are so upset. It's not because the insurget represents muslims so much as the marine represents the occupation forces. Insurgets have killed hundreds of civilians, while the "good guys" have killed 100,000. There has not been such a "liberation" since Hitler "liberated" Poland. We are mad because (as almost everybody knows) the occupation forces are raping, robbing, torturing and murdering Iraqis and mostly getting away with it, and here's even more proof.

Patty, I'll ask you what I've asked every other apologist for empire and terror: WHAT DID IRAQ HAVE TO DO WITH 911 ???
ANSWER : NOTHING, hence your vulgur justifications fall apart. "Insurgents" are Iraqi defending their country from murderous INVADERS. IS that so difficult a concept to understand ? Maybe one day someone will decide that you Americans are threats to world peace and deal with you in similar fashion. American patriots will then terrorists, dont you agree ?

I disagree with the article. What the insurgents have done has called for the type of response they have gotten. I guess 9/11 was not a massacre in your view? The man shot was not taking refuge in a place of worship, was unable to leave the mosque because he was shot as he tried to kill American soldiers from this "place of worship". When all the rules of engagement are broken by the insurgents, one can only expect American troops to respond accordingly. But that is hard to understand unless you are in the line of fire yourself, right? What if your husband was a soldier out there...then would it be fair? Would you expect him to walk up to the injured insurgent and take the chance that he has a bomb attached to himself? Seems to me he used the Reasonable Person Standard. The key word is Reasonable.

Heres some "context" cesar, you attacked a nation which never harmed you based on LIES. YOu have murdered over a 100000 Iraqi men, woman and children. And throughout it all you have supported the action of your war criminal troops.
Its clear to me who the terrorists here are, and its NOT the Iraqis who're defending their nation from invaders and the local puppet regime.

Quite apart from the topic actually addressed by the article, who killed Margaret indeed?

Context huh cesar. You people are so twisted and evil justifying barbaric murder of people. Its comes from your culture of diefying your war criminal soldiers as invade, murder, butcher and maim those who have never harmed you.
The Iraqis dont want American terrorists in their country,,simple as that. Maybe if you or your criminally insane countrymen had a backbone you'd understand what freedom is really about.

We must consider the context in which the soldier acted. If you listen to the video, you will hear that the soldier believed that the injured insurgent was playing dead and considered him a danger to himself and other soldiers. I get this from just listening to the tapes shown in the news. Now if the facts, those not seen in the tape, can prove other wise and deem him guilty of Murder, he must be punished according to Military law.

We must also take into account that insurgents are known for playing dead or surrendering and then ambuscading soldiers hence we must take care when asking soldiers to second guess them selves in combat situations. Their lives are on the line.

Why are Muslims so upset at the death of this one insurgent? These are the same people that build car bombs and kill women and children, insurgents kill civilians like Hassan and mass murder Iraqi police trainees by the dozens, they dance on the streets with burned corpses. The world is a better place without them.

I am more upset are the senseless murder of Hassan. A non-combatant who sacrifice her life to make someone else's life better. May she rest in peace

What we are seeing here is a struggle of hearts. This is not our war against the insurgents. This is the aristocracy in America that fears these people and their ability to alter both courses of economics. The U.S. Army is under the control of the rich de facto, and even I have friends who are in the Marines about to be deployed, I know that their government lied to them, there was no universal Muslim threat, and it was created soley as device to rank and file soldiers to an unjust and evil war. The soldiers believed they were doing the right thing, because they only knew that 'the enemy' has a problem with the evils of the American corporations raping all lands of the third world, and continued American support of illegitimate constitutions of oppressive governments. Why does America cause so much evil? Because we are taught to believe that the best way to bring yourself up is to hold others down, but Islam says differently. Thus the conflict, thus a war, thus deaths of fine people worldwide. Fight that which holds you back, and peace and unity.