FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bomb Shatters Media Illusions in Baghdad

Arasat is a quiet, uneventful suburb of Baghdad, a place of good restaurants serving moderate Lebanese wine, middle class and educated and absolutely unassociated with violence. So the bomb which stopped the clock of the Christian family across the road from the Aike Hotel–it showed 6.51am–also exploded many illusions. The American NBC television network was based in the pseudo-Greek apartment block, there was only one night-watchman and the reporters felt secure far from the American tanks and armoured personnel carriers that guard the Palestine Hotel and the other targets of opportunity in Baghdad.

In bed yesterday morning, I heard the blast–a very minute increase in air pressure–that took the life of the Somali doorman at the Aike, and by the time I got there, it was the usual blood and bits of metal, the watch timer–found by a journalist–and possibly the battery for the bomb–found by The Independent on the roof of a villa opposite–that was left. A little bomb, left behind the hotel’s generator, in the hope, no doubt, that it would ignite enough fuel to bring down the wretched place. In the event, of course, the dead Somali–remember Black Hawk Down?–played only a bit part in the drama.

The world was told that a Baghdad hotel had been targeted, that staff of an American television network were the intended victims and that there had been “one” Somali dead. He had no name. No one knew his name. But they did know the name of David Moodie, the NBC soundman who received a nasty piece of broken glass in his arm.

“Americans targeted in Baghdad hotel bomb” was on the news wires. Which was, of course, exactly what the nasty little bomber wanted.

You can see how his master’s mind worked. One, attack the Americans. Two, go for a hotel. Three, be sure that it would receive more publicity than the killing of an innocent Iraqi bus passenger.

Lt-Col Peter Jones of “Task Force 1-6” told us it was an “improvised explosive device” and, long after he had left, the FBI and its heavily armed escorts arrived in two 4-by-4s, one of them speaking in a cockney accent, to assess the crime. Too late for the timing mechanism, they did not even spot the clock in the villa opposite and that, I suppose, is the problem when you have to get your “security” escort and arm yourself and find the location long after the attack has taken place. Certainly too late to understand the effect on the Christian family across the road. They stood, professional people–the husband is the Daimler agent in Baghdad–asking who would pay for their broken windows and blasted doors and shredded sofas upon which they were sleeping when the bomb exploded. “At least before all this, I could drink tea on the lawn outside my house,” the man said. So what can the Iraqis do? Nothing. What can the Western journalists do? Remain discrete, in undefended hotels like the Aike? Or cluster like rodents around the Palestine Hotel, which is defended by an army of Iraqi policemen and US troops? Arasat was safe–at least, until the NBC lads turned up to live there, along with their “stand-upper” dish and floodlights on the roof.

Many Western journalists in Baghdad were reassessing their safety last night. Was the bomb a warning? Or just a propaganda explosion with a single, poor Somali as the real victim? Needless to say, more attention was paid in Baghdad yesterday afternoon to the death of Aqila al-Hashimi, the ex-Baathist member of the US-appointed Interim Council who was shot and gravely wounded in an assassination attempt on Saturday.

Ambushed with great precision–the road outside her home was blocked by gunmen’s cars as she left–Mrs Hashimi had been operated on for bullet wounds to her abdomen in the Kindi Hospital and then taken to an American medical facility outside the capital. Initially, the former foreign ministry official under Saddam Hussein was reported as being “out of danger”. Yesterday, she died from her wounds, the first member of America’s Iraqi “government” to be murdered.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

 

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail