Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

As British Muslims Plead for Bigley’s Life, US Airstrikes Pound Fallujah



A two-man delegation of British Muslims appealed in Baghdad yesterday for Kenneth Bigley to be released. Musharaf Hussein of the Muslim Council said: “We believe in the power of prayer turning people’s hearts.”

At a press conference, as well as pleading for the release of the British engineer, Mr Hussein and Daoud Abdullah said that British Muslims had always opposed the war in Iraq.

But as they were making their appeal, American aircraft assaulted the resistance stronghold of Fallujah for the third time in 24 hours, killing eight people and wounding 17, according to the local hospital. The US military said it was aiming to hit a meeting of 10 militants.

American generals were defensive about the number of civilian casualties inflicted by the bombing campaign and blamed the insurgents for operating in urban areas. They said they took great care not to kill civilians but were unable to explain the almost nightly television pictures of wounded women and children being taken from ruined houses. The latest “precision” strikes raised the toll in recent attacks to 15 killed and 30 wounded, many of whom are women and children according to doctors. The US military cast doubt on the accuracy of the doctors’ statements.

The British Muslim delegation saw a variety of Iraqi leaders, including President Ghazi al-Yawar. But they were unable to say how they hoped to establish contact with the kidnappers allegedly led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Many of those who met the delegation are connected to the interim Iraqi government rather than the resistance.

The delegation delivered a letter from Yusuf Islam, formerly known as the singer Cat Stevens, asking for Mr Bigley to be released. It said: “As a member of the Muslim Council I request you in the name of Allah, the Rahman [Compassionate], to release the British citizen Ken Bigley for the good name of our religion and according to the sayings of Allah in the glorious Qur’an.”

Mr Daoud said that Mr Bigley should be freed as a non-combatant just as the civilians killed in Fallujah by US air strikes were non-combatants. He said he did not know if Mr Bigley was alive or dead but would act as if he were alive.

The upsurge of violence continued across Iraq, with two suicide bombers blowing up their vehicles outside US and Iraqi bases at Karma, near Fallujah, wounding severalsoldiers.

In an ominous development, the Americans have arrested a commander of the Iraqi National Guard in Baquba, a bastion of rebellion. The military said Lieutenant General Talib al-Lahibi had been arrested on Thursday for associating with known members of the resistance. He commanded three battalions in Diyala province. Iraqi civil and military leaders in the Sunni Muslim heartlands where unrest is prevalent have difficulty surviving unless they have an understanding with the resistance.

A London-based Muslim activist who has good contacts with Islamist groups in Iraq said Mr Bigley was still alive. Yasser al-Serri, the director of the Islamic Observation Centre, said his group issued an appeal to Mr Bigley’s kidnappers through mediators in Iraq and received a reply that the Briton was still alive.

“We were told by the mediators today that the British hostage is still alive,” he said. “We had sent an appeal to the kidnappers for the hostage’s release, and another Islamic group also sent an appeal, and the mediators said the appeals were being studied.” The appeal, he said, urged the kidnappers to free Mr Bigley for the sake of his family and as a “clear message to the British people to see their government’s weakness and crime in not freeing prisoners held by coalition forces to spare their sons.”

Mr Serri won a battle in 2002 against extradition to the US, which accuses him of funding al-Qa’ida. He was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian military tribunal in 1994 for trying to assassinate Atef Sedki, who was prime minister.


Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017