A Sad Note In UpdateSteven Vincent, whose work I quoted below, was proven too prescient in his analysis of the religious authoritarianism and lawlessness permeating the culture of Basra's police forces.
Sadly, he was murdered yesterday. Kidnapped off the street, along with his translator, and shot three through the chest until dead. His translator, a woman, Nour Weidi, who was shot four times, remains alive. Suspicion falls on members the Iraqi police forces of the region.
The point Steven Vincent highlighted in that article was that the British were doing nothing to head off the growing lawlessness and religious fervor in the Coalition sponsored police forces. Vincent highlighted that a large majority of the men in the new forces were taken from the same segment of uneducated and underemployed men as those that currently "swell" the ranks of our old friend, Moktada al-Sadr. And that the loyalty they maintain is as much to their Mosques as to the State. And that it is often members of the police who are responsible for targeted assassinations of former Bathists.
In response, the British, who are responsible for security in that sector, were more or less looking the other way. In the name of multiculturalism and through fear of the charge of imperialism being thrown at them, they were doing nothing to retrain these men to understand democratic principles, or to inculcate a notion of an independent police force.
The situation, Vincent pointed out, looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Tragically the disaster has struck at him first.
In his NYTimes article, Vincent quoted an unnamed police source:
An Iraqi police lieutenant, who for obvious reasons asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to me the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations - mostly of former Baath Party members - that take place in Basra each month. He told me that there is even a sort of 'death car': a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment," he wrote.Early reports indicate that Mr. Vincent and his translator were kidnapped by five gunmen driving a police car.
One wonders whether this will now shock the British political sensibility awake. Or whether their laissez-faire attitude in this regard will continue in the same ostrich-like way as they return to sleep.
On a personal note I'm sad that Mr. Vincent has been murdered just as I discovered his incisive analysis and the excellent work he was doing in Basra. Like Daniel Pearl, it looks like Steven Vincent was getting too close to uncovering -- and hence revealing to the world -- the state of the festering, religious network which currently operates in Basra. And that those in charge decided he was too much of a threat to allow him to live.
Daniel Pearl's murderers are now all in jail or dead, I believe. One can only hope the same happens with Mr. Vincent's executioners.
I want to thank Clive Davis, whose blog first referred me to Vincent's recent piece in the NYTimes and to his blog. I only wish I had discovered Vincent's writings earlier.
Rest In Peace