FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Baghdad.

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:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail