Journalist tells court he aimed to express ‘the hatred we have for this man’
Supporters and relatives of Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who gained cult status for throwing his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush, wave as he is taken away from court in a Humvee in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: Khalid Mohammed / AP)
The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
Feb. 19, 2009
BAGHDAD – An Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at George W. Bush said in the past he had videotaped himself practicing the Arab insult to use against the president whose “icy smile” had filled him with uncontrollable rage.
At the start of his trial in Baghdad on charges of assaulting a foreign leader, Muntadhar al-Zeidi said he recorded his shoe-throwing training two years ago and had hoped to accost Bush in Jordan but this did not take place.
Al-Zeidi, who was hailed across the Middle East by critics of the Iraq invasion and who also called Bush a “dog,” told the court he had acknowledged making a training film under interrogation after his arrest at a Baghdad news conference. …
But al-Zeidi, whose unusual protest overshadowed Bush’s final visit to Iraq in December, insisted he had not planned to attack Bush this time.
Instead, he said Bush’s smile as he talked about achievements in Iraq had made him think of “the killing of more than a million Iraqis, the disrespect for the sanctity of the mosques and houses, the rapes of women,” and enraged him. …
“Suddenly I saw no one in the room but Bush. I felt the blood of innocents was running under his feet while he was smiling coldly as if he had come to write off Iraq with a farewell meal.”
‘The prime murderer’
Al-Zeidi added: “After more than a million Iraqis killed, after all the economic and social destruction … I felt that this person is the killer of the people, the prime murderer. I was enraged and threw my shoes at him.”
At the time, al-Zeidi shouted at Bush that the shoe-throwing was a “goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.”
The trial had barely begun at Iraq’s Central Criminal Court in the heavily fortified Green Zone before the judges postponed proceedings until March 12 so it could be determined if Bush was truly on an “official” visit to Iraq as a head of state. …
The reporter for an Iraqi television station based in Cairo became a hero in much of the Middle East and his protest was played by television stations around the world.
Bush, whose support of Israel and decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein made him passionately disliked in the region, nimbly ducked out of the way of the first shoe and made light of the incident. The second shoe also missed the American president.
The invasion plunged Iraq into six years of sectarian warfare and insurgency that killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.
Al-Zeidi was transformed into a cult figure across the Muslim world where thousands hailed him as a hero and demanded his release for what they considered a justified act of patriotism.
Haider Ahmed, a government employee, called al-Zeidi a patriot. “He allowed us to hold our heads high,” he said. …
Al-Zeidi himself said he could not be charged with assaulting a visiting head of state when that leader was also the chief of an occupation force. “How can he be a guest in an area that they themselves run?” he said.
“I did not intend to kill U.S. President Bush. But I wanted to express what is inside of me and what is inside all Iraqis, from north to south and east to west, the hatred we have for this man.”
Statue honors shoe-thrower (NBC Nightly News, Feb. 19, 2009) – The Iraqi journalist on trial for throwing his shoes at former President George W. Bush has become a hero in the Arab world. NBC’s Kianne Sadeq reports. (02:01)
Security Developments in Iraq
Following are security developments in Iraq as reported by Reuters.
BAGHDAD – An Iraqi soldier was shot and wounded by sniper fire in Baghdad’s western district of Mansour, police said.
BAGHDAD – A woman and two children were killed on Thursday in two explosions outside a home near Abu Ghraib, on Baghdad’s western outskirts, the U.S. military statement said. Two men were injured.
BALAD RUZ – Four Iraqi soldiers were killed and two were wounded by a roadside bomb in the town Balad Ruz, 55 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said.
GARMA – A roadside bomb near a police station killed a policeman and wounded one person in the town of Garma, 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – A policeman was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in western Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – Gunmen killed the owner of a shop in western Mosul, police said.
MOSUL – Gunmen killed a man and stole his car in central Mosul, police said.
MOSUL – A policeman was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in western Mosul, police said.
MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded a civilian when it exploded near a police patrol in Mosul, police said.
BAGHDAD – Eight people were wounded by a roadside bomb in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD – Three people were wounded by a roadside bomb in the Karradat Mariam area of central Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – A car bomb killed one policeman and wounded seven people, including two police, in southern Mosul, police said.
MOSUL – An off-duty Iraqi soldier was shot dead in central Mosul, police said.
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