...this blog kills fascists...

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Must read piece by Scott Baldauf in the Christian Science Monitor. He and a group of journalists made a journey into Najaf and into the shrine today to assist other colleagues who were inside the shine and were afraid they'd never make it out alive. Baldauf and the others went as friends trying to help friends, but with, obviously, the journalistic opportunity represented by such a journey not lost on them either.

We had two goals: First, to seek what may be the final comments of the top leadership of Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army, who were taking shelter in the holy site. Second, we wanted to help two colleagues, freelance photographer Thorne Anserson and freelance reporter Philip Robertson, get out of the shrine after they had spent a harrowing three days at the epicenter of this armed showdown.

Between us and the shrine were two US military checkpoints, countless snipers, and hundreds of Mahdi Army fighters who had already committed themselves to die for their cause....

...Outside the shrine walls, there was a different "conversation" entirely. Outgoing mortars and incoming artillery shells indicated that, even with journalists inside, the war would continue. Each of us found ourselves surrounded by Sadr supporters, all seeking to convey their message. Some alleged that the Americans had used chemical weapons on them and promised to bring the evidence. They showed us shell fragments but those could be from any shell casing, conventional or otherwise. One Sadr supporter chastised our interpreter, Alah, for failing to hide her hair under her scarf.

We made our way to the shrine's combat hospital, where fighters are brought for treatment. They begged us to take away a man with severe head wounds, who appeared to be dying. We promised to send an ambulance, but say we cannot take the man out ourselves. That would compromise our neutrality. The hospital staff are disappointed. Our interpreter Alah breaks down in tears.

Hell of a read.

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