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Mar 13th, 2009

‘No One Values the Victims Anymore’

Devastating blast that kills 33 creates few ripples in Iraq

Image: Family members of Suhaib Adnan mourn over his coffin
Family members of Suhaib Adnan, a TV reporter who was killed in a suicide bombing attack in Abu Ghraib, mourn during his funeral in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. (Photo credit: Loay Hameed / AP)

By Anthony Shadid
The Washington Post
March 12, 2009


ABU GHRAIB, Iraq — At noon Tuesday, there was the explosion. Gunfire followed, and 33 people were dead, pieces of their corpses mixing with stagnant water, trash and soggy scraps of food. At noon Wednesday, there were the atlal.

The word in Arabic means the remains or ruins, the traces of something left behind. The atlal of Tuesday’s attack, one of two in the past week that killed scores in the capital and its environs, were spent bullet cartridges, catching the glint of a morning sun, that survivors accused soldiers of firing at them in the chaos and confusion that followed the blast.

The atlal were the orphaned boy who had been selling plastic bags for a few cents. They were the vegetable seller whose 18-month-old daughter was ripped from his grasp as he was hurled to the asphalt. They were the relatives standing at a morgue that housed the remains of their families together with the remnants of the bomber who killed them.

In 2003, when America began its occupation, bombings with half the casualties of Tuesday’s suggested the United States might not prevail. Today, when America and its Iraqi allies seem to be winning, the attack failed to make the front page of the government newspaper.

“No one values the victims anymore,” said Mohammed Awad, another relative standing near the morgue, under a sun that washed Abu Ghraib of color. …

Full story


Iraqi Shoe-Hurler is Jailed for 3 Years

Shouts ‘Down with Bush’ and ‘Long Live Iraq’ after verdict

Image: relative of the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi
A relative of the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi holds up a poster in support of the journalist at his home after he was convicted of assaulting a foreign leader Thursday. The posters shows a portrait of  al-Zeidi and reads: “Release he who achieved Iraqi unity,” and  “Release he who restored Iraqi dignity.” (Photo credit: Khalid Mohammed / AP)

March 12, 2009

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at then-President George W. Bush was convicted Thursday of assaulting a foreign leader and sentenced to three years in prison, lawyers said. He shouted “Long live Iraq” when the sentence was read.

The verdict came after a short trial in which Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 30, pleaded not guilty to the charge and said his action was a “natural response to the occupation.”

Some of his relatives collapsed after the verdict and had to be helped out of court. Others were forcibly removed by security forces when they became unruly, shouting “Down with Bush” and “Long live Iraq.” …

When al-Zeidi threw his shoes at Bush, he shouted in Arabic: “This is your farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” …

Full story


3/13/09 Update

Shoe-Thrower Fans Unite Online

Story highlights:

  • Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at President Bush, gains cult-like following
  • Hundreds of thousands of Facebook users join groups to praise the Iraqi journalist
  • Fans extend beyond the Muslim and Arab worlds, politically and comically


8/29/09 Update

Iraqi Shoe-Thrower to be Released Early

Iraq Shoe Thrower
Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s shoe toss at President George W. Bush made him a national hero to some Iraqis. (Photo credit: Evan Vucci / AP)

Aug. 29, 2009

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi journalist jailed after hurling his shoes at former President George W. Bush will be released next month after his sentence was reduced for good behavior, his lawyer said Saturday.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s act during Bush’s last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world amid anger over the 2003 invasion.

He has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst, which occurred as Bush was holding a joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

He was initially sentenced to three years after pleading not guilty to assaulting a foreign leader, then the court reduced it to one year because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

Defense attorney Karim al-Shujairi said al-Zeidi will now be released on Sept. 14, three months early. …

The bizarre act of defiance transformed the obscure reporter from a minor TV station into a national hero to many Iraqis fed up with the nearly six-year U.S. presence here.

The case also drew worldwide attention and became a rallying cry throughout the Muslim world for critics who resent the U.S. invasion and occupation.


9/18/09 Update

Iraqi Shot After Throwing Slipper at U.S. Patrol

Image: Wounded Iraqi
Ahmed al-Jumaili talks to his mother at a hospital in Fallujah, Iraq, on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009 after being wounded by Marines who said they thought he was throwing a grenade. (Photo credit: Bilal Fawzi / AP)

Sept. 17, 2009

FALLUJAH, Iraq — American Marines shot and wounded an Iraqi man in the former flashpoint city of Fallujah believing he was throwing a grenade at them, the U.S. military said Thursday — but local police and witnesses said the object was only the man’s slipper.

During a joint patrol of U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, the man “threw an object, believed to be a grenade” at the passing troops on Wednesday afternoon, according to a U.S. military statement.

“U.S. forces fired in self-defense, wounding the attacker,” the military said. “The convoy stopped, secured the area and began to render medical aid.”

The man, Ahmed al-Jumaili, was rushed to a local hospital and was in stable condition there Thursday after being treated for a chest wound and two bullet grazes.

Although the incident came just a day after the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush was released from prison, al-Jumaili said he took off his leather slipper and threw it in a knee-jerk reaction to seeing the patrol.

“When I saw Americans patrolling the streets of Fallujah I lost my temper, I don’t want to see them in Fallujah,” he told The Associated Press. “Troops have withdrawn from cities so why are they still patrolling here in Fallujah?” …


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Thursday, March 12, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BASRA – Sheikh Abdullah Adnan al-Tamimi, a Sunni religious leader who was a candidate in January’s local elections, was killed by armed men near his home south of Basra, 260 miles south of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb killed one policeman in southern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Armed men killed a policemam near his home in eastern Mosul, police said.

MOSUL – Police found the body of a man who had been shot in the head and chest in eastern Mosul, police said.

BAGHDAD – Gunmen in a car shot dead two people in central Baghdad’s Saadoun Street, police said.

BAGHDAD – Samir al-Waili, a major-general in the traffic police directorate, was unharmed by a roadside bomb attack on his convoy as it passed through the al-Nahda area of central Baghdad, police said. Two of his guards and two civilians were wounded in the blast.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded Taha Kudhair, brigadier-general in the civil defence directorate, while he was heading to work in the Yarmouk district of Baghdad, police said. Kudhair’s son and a passerby were also wounded in the blast.


Clinton Eyes Engagement with North Korea

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet Wednesday in Washington.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet Wednesday, March 11, 2009 in Washington. (Photo credit: Getty Images / CNN)

By Elise Labott

March 12, 2009

WASHINGTON — The United States will still try to denuclearize North Korea through multilateral talks, even if it launches a long-range missile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

The United States was anxious to resume talks with South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and North Korea aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program, Clinton told reporters Wednesday after meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

The talks — commonly referred to as the Six Party Talks — have “proven to be effective, which did set forth a set of obligations which the North Koreans agreed to,” Clinton said. …

The Obama administration was reviewing its policy toward North Korea, but Clinton has said the United States wants to engage North Korea and has promised to normalize ties with Pyongyang if totally eliminates its nuclear program.

Tensions have ramped up in recent days, as North Korea has threatened retaliation in the event of an interception of what it says will be a “satellite” launch. …

Clinton said the collective international concern about a North Korean missile launch, however, would not detract the United States and its partners from seeking an end to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. …

Clinton said the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, was “prepared to go at a moment’s notice” to Pyongyang for talks with the North Korean government during a swing through Asia last week. …

Bosworth just returned Seoul, where he said he wanted dialogue with North Korea, but he also spoke against North Korea’s move to go forward with a launch, saying it would be “ill-advised.”

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