FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Most Dangerous Country in the World for Journalists

 

Baghdad.

Iraq confirmed its reputation as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists this week when a roadside bomb killed an Iraqi television cameraman, Alaa Abdul-Karim al-Fartoosi, the first journalist to be killed in Iraq this year and the 126th since the start of the war.

Mr Fartoosi, 29, worked for al-Furat, the television station of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, one of the main Shia Islamic parties. He had left Baghdad at about 5pm on Tuesday for Samarra to cover the second anniversary of an attack on the Shia shrine in the city that provoked widespread killings.

Other workers at the television station told Mr Fartoosi to wait until the following day, but he said “the road was safe”. The bomb which killed him near the town of Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, also injured another correspondent, Fatma al-Hassani, in the leg and injured the cameraman’s assistant, Haider Jawad. The explosion almost certainly was not meant for the journalists but for a passing military or police vehicle.

The great majority of the journalists killed–104 out of the total–were Iraqi. Thirteen were European and two were American. In addition, 49 media support workers have also been killed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.

Iraqi journalists have died in almost every circumstance and at many hands. Sometimes there were direct attacks on buildings in which the media worked, such as the suicide bomber who drove a refuse lorry packed with explosives into the entrance of Baghdad TV’s offices on 5 April 2007, killing the deputy director, Thaer Ahmad Jaber.

Other journalists have been killed because of the stories they were reporting or the political line of the publication, radio or TV for which they worked. Iraqi workers for foreign media companies are particularly at risk. Alaa Uldeen Aziz and Saif Laith Yousuf, a cameraman and a soundman working for ABC News, were ambushed and killed by gunmen in two cars.

Often journalists have been killed for the same reasons that tens of thousands of Iraqis die, but their deaths receive a little more notice. For instance, Khaled Fayyad Obaid al Hamdani was shot dead by a US military patrol when he was driving to work, according to the Nahrain television station for which he worked. He was driving fast to avoid kidnappers but the US soldiers evidently suspected him of being a suicide bomber and shot him. A US military spokesman said he had no record of the shooting.

Many journalists have also been killed because they were Sunni or Shia caught in the wrong area or at the wrong checkpoint. Many were tortured before they died. Others appear to have been abducted for ransom and killed when it was not forthcoming. The salary for a cameraman working for an Iraqi TV station is around $300 (£150) a month while a more senior director would get up to $1,200.

Iraqi journalists these days do much of the reporting for Western media organizations, because of the danger to any foreigner appearing in public.
Some foreign media have become prisoners of their own Western security companies and are mainly confined to their offices. This has kept casualties among Western journalists down but means that much of the war is unreported.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006. His forthcoming book ‘Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq’ is published by Scribner in April.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail