Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Khalid W. Hassan

On Friday 13 July the British media reported that a journalist with The New York Times had been killed. From a link the NYT gave, I realised I had mentioned him in a previous post. Here are some of the details of his killing, from the NYT's bureau chief :
The gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles, pitting Mr. Hassan’s rundown Kia car with bullets. At least one struck him in the upper body, but failed to kill him. [..] Slumped in his seat, he called his mother, then his father, at work as a school caretaker, telling them he had been shot. “I’m O.K., Mom,” he said. [..]An off-duty policeman in a gasoline station line told Mr. Hassan’s father what came next. A second car with gunmen, an Opel Vectra, seeing Mr. Hassan on his cellphone, pulled forward and fired two fatal shots into Mr. Hassan’s head and neck.

[Mr. Hassan] left no doubt his greatest fear was the Mahdi Army, and his cellphone text message shortly before he was killed indicated he was seeking a way out of Saidiya that would skirt a police checkpoint controlled by Shiite militiamen. That led his family to conclude that Mahdi Army spotters, recognizing his car and knowing him to be a Sunni, might have alerted Shiite gunmen lurking along his route.

But on Friday night, 12 hours after Mr. Hassan died, another cellphone message caused friends and relatives to question their conclusion that he had been the victim of [Shiite] extremists. A relative reported he had received a text message warning him to quit his job and “return to God” or suffer a fate similar to Mr. Hassan’s. The message was signed by a group calling itself the Brigade of the Mujahedeen, a hitherto unknown group. Mujahedeen, or holy warriors, is a term usually used by Sunni extremists. ('In a Baghdad Killing, Questions That Haunt Iraq', 14 July 2007, John F. Burns)
John Burns goes on to speak of a previous member of the NYT’s Iraqi news staff who was shot and killed: a "journalist the newspaper relied on in Basra, Fakher Haider". He was mentioned in my post 'The White Ducks of Basra', from 2006. 

Khalid Hassan, Photo: The New York Times

His words from last year:
We still have the problems. We didn't get rid of them yet.
...

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