March 05, 2005

The Great Giuliana Sgrena Hostage Hoax

Update March 07: I have a new posts following the Sgrena story "Giuliana Sgrena Admits to Helping Terrorists, Lies About Shooting".

Suspicion continues to mount that Giuliana Sgrena, the journalist for the Italian Communist paper Il Manifesto, either faked her own abduction or became an accomplice after the fact with her jihadi captors.

Today Giuliana Sgrena told her version of the dramatic story contradicting US military claims that her car was fired upon when it failed to slow down at a Coalition check point. Bloomberg:

``It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol that started shooting after pointing some lights in our direction,'' the Ansa news agency cited Sgrena as telling the prosecutors. ``We hadn't previously encountered any checkpoint and we didn't understand where the shots came from.''
As if on cue, Sgrena then goes on to say what we at The Jawa Report had been predicting she would say all along:
``I was never treated badly,'' Sgrena told her colleagues at Manifesto upon her arrival in Rome, according to Ansa.
The Italian left-wing, as predicted, has siezed upon Sgrena's ordeal today. The headline at Sgrena's own Communist paper shouts the headline that the Italian secret-service agent who had negotiated her release had been "Assassinated" by America.

UPDATE: NPR now reports that an anti-war rally is planned to celebrate Sgrena's release.

The Jawa Report has been predicting from day one that Sgrena would be released unharmed, and that on her release she would blame the US for her ordeal. The fact that her driver did not stop at a US checkpoint on a road scattered with checkpoints is more than a little odd--it is canny.

How does a driver in Iraq not know that the rules of engagement for Coalition forces are to fire upon any car which does not stop when ordered to?

While the Italian people wish to know why the US fired upon Sgrena, we in the US want to know why it was the Sgrena's car did not stop when ordered to do so?

Sgrena, continues her anti-Amricanism (Reuters):

"We thought the danger was over after my release to the Italians but all of a sudden there was this shoot-out, we were hit by a barrage of bullets," she told RAI TV by telephone.

Nicola Calipari, the senior secret service agent who had worked for her release, was telling her about what had been going on in Italy since her capture when the shooting started.

"He leaned over me, probably to protect me, and then he slumped down, and I saw he was dead," said Sgrena.

Doesn't this whole incident seem more than a little odd?

Sgena was kidnapped by her admitted friends in Iraq.

She was kidnapped while on the phone with another journalist.

A tape was released of her begging Italy to cave to the terrorists demands of pulling Italian troops out of Iraq the day before the Italian Senate was to vote on that very issue.

On the tape Sgrena appears to tell the 'terrorist' holding the camera to stop. He follows her order as if she is directing.

The tape came exactly two-weeks after she was captured.

One month to the day after her abduction she is released.

On the day of her release her car speeds toward a US checkpoint, fails to stop when ordered, fails to heed warning shots, and the car is ultimately fired upon.

In the end, who looks like the bad guys? The terrorists? The jihadis? The 'insurgents'? No, the US.

And what possible motivation, as I am frequently asked, might Sgrena have in being complicit in this whole thing?


"I don't believe a word of the American version," said Oliviero Diliberto, head of the Italian Communist party, part of the main left-wing block led byformer premier Romano Prodi.

"The Americans deliberately fired on Italians. This is huge. All of the center-left must vote in parliament for the withdrawal of our troops."

If one actually believes in the Left-wing version of the world than aiding Michael Moore's 'Minuteman' is not only the right thing to do, but a moral imperetive. Sgrena holds the world-view, as evidenced in her body of journalistic work, that America is the cause of all the problems in the world. She believes the US is exactly as Ward Churchill describes it. America is just like Nazi Germany.

And Iraq? Iraq is an imperialistic move motivated by greed, the desire for hegemeny, and to bolster the Zionist-imperialists in Palestine. Iraq has been a blood-bath with tens of thousands of children dying so that the US could gain control over Mideast oil.

Normally we don't go in for conspiracy theories. We hate them. We despise them. But the speculation that Sgrena collaborated with the 'minutemen' of Iraq in demanding that Italy withdraw from that country does not involve layer upon layer of cover-up. It requires a few people, none of them working in an official government capacity.

Remember Benjamin Vanderford or John Adam?

And if you really believed all that the Left says about the US in Iraq, wouldn't it be your duty to fight the occupation? And if it is morally acceptable to kill in that resistance then surely the lesser crime of lying is also acceptable.

Guliana Sgrena, you are a liar and a propagandist. Why should we trust you now?

UPDATE: I oringinally wrote this from my 28k connection at home and have corrected some of it.

This is speculation and I could be wrong. Speculation, though, is the foundation for any hypothesis testing. I hope Italian and US investigators do not simply take this enemy propagandists word for it. In my book, she is every bit a suspect as she is a victim.

Jeff Goldstein adds his two-cents here.

Let me also remind readers that Sgrena's car was shot at night. The DU is now filled with posters claiming Sgrena was shot because "she was brown, like the Iraqis" or that "the US will shoot any brown person".

The soldiers could not have known who was in the car. They had no idea a hostile journalist was in the car (sorry Eason Jordan, your hypothesis doesn't wash) and they could have had no idea there was a 'brown person' in the car (sorry DU and Ward Churchill)

UPDATE: Let me clarify a few points responding to comments.

1) Nobody is accusing the Italian secret-service to have been in on this. No one is saying that a giant conspiracy exists. What we are saying is that Sgrena was amongst friends if her hostage takers were terrorists. That a ransom was paid makes Italy a victim, not a co-conspirator.

2) When the word of a propagandist is pitted against the word of a US soldier, I am inclined to believe that of the soldier.

3) If the speculation that the whole thing was a hoax is wrong, so be it. However, ample evidence exists that Sgrena was really in no danger if it was jihadis responsible for her kidnapping. If however the kidnappers were simple criminals, then all this is wrong.

UPDATE March 07: After taking Sunday to think about this, let me do a couple of "take-backs."

I implied in this and an earlier post that the troops firing on Sgrena's vehicle was somehow part of Sgrena's bigger plan. The accusation that this is wingnuttery are actually right-on. Now that would require some sort of conspiracy between Sgrena and the men who had negotiated for her freedom (at a price-tag of over $1 million from what we are now hearing.

I feel stupid for having implied that such a conspiracy existed.

The most likely explanation is that Sgrena's driver simply did not follow orders to halt.

Now, why did Sgrena's driver not follow these orders?

Two hypothoses come to mind:

a) It was dark and the driver was confused about the identity of the soldiers mistaking them for insurgents

b) The driver believed the anti-American rhetoric of Sgrena and her likes. If the US is as Sgrena describes then why would you stop? Remember, for a large number of people in the world who watch al Jazeera or read left-wing newspaper's US soldiers are terrorists.

If the latter is true than the shooting incident becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don't stop at an American chekcpoint because they shoot reporters. The reporters get shot because they don't stop at a US checkpoint.

However, for Sgrena to have been complicit in her own kidnapping requires no such grand conspiracy. It takes one reporter cooperating with the mujahadin council. That's it.

From an earlier post to remind readers of why this whole thing has been suspicious from the beginning:

First, she was abducted while conducting interviews with refugees from Fallujah in Baghdad. Having read some of Sgrena's work in the past, there is very little doubt that the emphasis of the story would be on the horrors inflicted on that city by the American troops. Ms. Sgrena is an anti-war activist with journalistic credentials.

Second, she just happened to be on the phone with another journalist Barbara Schiavulliduring the abduction. Ms. Schiavulli recently interviewed the terrorist Abu Abid in the Gaza strip. Today, Schiavulli received this mysterious phone call. Reuters:

A friend of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped in Baghdad on Friday, received a call on Saturday from Sgrena's telephone but it was unclear who was at the other end of the line. Barbara Schiavulli, a correspondent for Italian radio news agency GRT, saw Sgrena's number appear on her telephone screen but when she answered she heard only Arab music and no one spoke, an editor at GRT in Rome said.

"The call lasted only a short moment and then the line was cut off. Barbara tried to call back but she couldn't get through. It was impossible to know if the call was intentional or if it was an accident," Simona D'Alessio told Reuters.

Then there is this report that two Iraqis working with Ms. Sgrena are being held by the police. News 24:
Iraqi police are holding two companions of kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena for questioning about her abduction, officials said Saturday.

Interior Ministry official Sabah Khazim said that the two were held for questioning "so that we can have a clear idea about the circumstances of the abduction of the Italian journalist and they will be released soon".

Colonel Adnan Abdul Rahman, another Interior Ministry official, said authorities wanted to gather as many details as possible from the two.

The officials would not identify the pair but sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they included her driver and interpreter.

There is also the generic name of the terrorist group said to be holding Sgrena, The Islamic Jihad Organization.

From Ms. Sgrena's history two things become clear. One, she has a long history of opposing U.S. military force and chooses to emphasize the innocent casualties of war rather than the innocent casualties of the evil regimes these wars topple. Two, her anti-war focus brings her into close proximity with terrorists and their sympathizers.

What kind of people, exactly, did Giuliana Sgrena think she was hanging around with? Unlike hostages such as American Roy Hallums or Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni, Sgrena was not in Iraq to help with reconstruction and abducted from her home. She was interviewing people who think that the Americans were the bad guys.

The leftist world-view is unified by only one theme: America is the bad guy. When seen from this view then it is perfectly logical to see terrorists in Iraq as 'partisans' or 'resistance fighters'. Sgrena seems to be the victim of her own naivity about those who are resisting America's efforts to build a democratic Iraq. Or worse.

Could her own sympathies with the 'resistance' lead her to stage her own abduction? The coming weeks will tell.

More on Sgrena from the pro-terrorist al Jazeera:

Giuliana Sgrena, 56, a veteran Middle East correspondent for the leftist Il Manifesto daily...
Within hours, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said talks had begun to try to secure her release, as the so-called Islamic Jihad Organisation handed him a chilling 72-hour deadline to pull his 3000 troops out of Iraq.

"The negotiating machinery has been set in motion," Berlusconi told a meeting of his ruling party, Forza Italia, hoping that it would be possible "to achieve a solution quickly". ...

Sent to Baghdad to cover Sunday's elections, Sgrena was described by colleagues as an Arabic-speaking feminist with a passionate interest in Islam...

"Giuliana is petite, reserved and the complete opposite of what you'd image a war correspondent to be, but she fears nothing," said her editor Loris Campetti.

"She has very good contacts in Baghdad, including with the ulamas [Muslim clergy], and is against the war, in keeping with the Manifesto line. She was never embedded and wrote very personal and documented reports."

New post is up on Giuliana Sgrena's Blood Libel Against the US which explores Sgrena's past anti-American utterances; including the accusation that the US was targetting journalists (said long before she was taken hostage), had used napalm on civilians, and tortured women in Iraq, and was complicit in the massacre of thousands in Afghanistan. She even implies that the US has used nuclear weapons in Iraq.

Related stories from The Jawa Report:
Italian Hostage Released, Shot by US Forces (DU says Eason Jordan vindicated)
Italian Woman Taken Hostage in Iraq (Updated)
Italian Hostage: Hoax or the Fruits of anti-American Activism?
Italian Hostage Hoax: Terrorists to Release Giuliana Sgrena
Giuliana Sgrena Alive and Well
Italian Hostage Video Released (UPDATE)
Italians Lobby for Release of Hostage by Calling for End to Occupation
Iraqi Minister Claims Italian Hostage Release Imminent

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:28 PM | Comments |