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.

 

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail