August 05, 2005

Steven Vincent


From FoxNews: American Journalist Killed in Iraq.

BASRA, Iraq  — An American freelance journalist, who accused Basra's police of being infiltrated by Shiite militiamen in a recent New York Times column and his Internet blog, was found shot to death in the southern city after being abducted by armed men driving a police car.

Steven Vincent, whose work also has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and his female Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint by five men Tuesday evening as they left a currency exchange shop, police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi said Wednesday.

Vincent's body was discovered Tuesday night on the side of the highway south of Basra. He had been shot in the head and body, al-Zaidi said. ...

In an opinion column published July 31 in the Times, Vincent wrote that Basra's police force had been heavily infiltrated by members of Shiite political groups, including those loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Vincent quoted an unidentified Iraqi police lieutenant as saying that some police were behind many of the assassinations of former Baath Party members that have taken place in Basra.

"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.

Vincent also was critical of the British military, which is responsible for security in Basra, for turning a blind eye to abuses of power by Shiite extremists in the city.

He was the author of "In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq," a recently published book that was an account of life in a post-Saddam Iraq.

His blog from Iraq — In the Red Zone — chronicled his experiences in Basra from late May to late July. The entries, written as letters to his wife, Lisa, were rich in detail and often humorous.

The quote in the cartoon is from Vincent's book. More of the quote can be read in this No Pasaran post, which also referred to a Dreams Into Lightning post containing many other informative links. For instance, in a interview, Vincent elaborates on the "words matter" topic:

The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists “the resistance.”   What an example of moral inversion!  For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people.  And those who oppose the killers -- the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour [an Iraqi woman who assisted him] -- they are the “resistance.”  They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja.   Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism—or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought—should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language.

At The Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick has a must-read eulogy: From Vincent to van Gogh (via Free Thoughts).

On Tuesday evening freelance American journalist Steven Vincent was kidnapped and murdered in Basra. Vincent, who in pre-September 11 America earned his living as an art critic, set out to fight this war after he watched the Twin Towers explode from his rooftop in the East Village in Manhattan. And Tuesday he gave his life in the fight.

Vincent did not join the army. He took up his pen and he went to Iraq in the wake of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime by the US-led coalition in the spring of 2003. No one sent him there. He heard the call to battle from his rooftop that terrible morning and he answered it in the only way he knew. He became a chronicler of post-Saddam Iraq. ...

What came through clearly in his writings is that Vincent grasped that the global jihad, as it manifested itself in New York and Washington on September 11 and as it manifests itself on a daily basis in Iraq and indeed throughout the world, is rooted not in terrorism but in culture and religion. And the only way for the US and the rest of the free world to emerge victorious in this war is to expose and destroy the cultural base that spurs millions of Muslims throughout the world to kill and destroy and to support killing and destruction in the name of Islam.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 12: From: The Scotsman: US reporter killed 'because he was to marry a Muslim' (via Tom Pechinski and Dhimmi Watch).

AN American journalist who was shot dead in Basra last week was executed by Shiite extremists who knew he was intending to marry his Muslim interpreter, it has emerged. Steven Vincent was shot a week before the planned wedding to Nouriya Itais and had already delivered a $2,500 dowry to her family.

The disclosure casts new light on the grip of Islamic religious sects in the British-run south- east of Iraq - raising concern that they will take control once troops start to withdraw. Mr Vincent was abducted from his hotel three days after writing a piece in the New York Times accusing British officials of allowing religious parties to infiltrate the Basra police.
In America, his death was taken as retribution for his article. But in London yesterday, British officials pointed out that the police in Basra believed it was retribution for his affair.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 22: Murdock Online has a must-read defense of her husband by Lisa Ramaci-Vincent against charges from a left-wing blogger: "It's called courage" (via Tom Pechinski and Winds of Change).

"And yes, he was planning to to convert to Islam and marry Nour, but only to take her out of the country to England, where she had a standing job offer, set her up with the friends she had over there, divorce her, and come back to New York. He had gotten her family's permission to do so (thereby debunking the "honor killing" theory), but more importantly, he had gotten mine. He called one night to say that it had been intimated to him that Nour's life was essentially going to be worthless after he left; since he was an honorable man (a breed you might want to familiarize yourself with), he then asked what I thought he might do to help her. I told him to get her out of the country and bring her here to New York. However, the only way she could have left Iraq was with a family member or husband. Since her family had no intention of going anywhere, Steven was her only recourse, and it would have been perfectly legal for him to convert, marry her, then take her out of Iraq to give her a chance at a real life...."

UPDATE III -- May 9, 2006: David Paulin has written a tribute to Vincent in light of the Jill Carroll kidnapping and release: “Soldier with a Pen”.

Forgotten amid celebrations over Carroll’s release and the subsequent flap among bloggers over her alleged Chomskyesque political views is the legacy of another occasional freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor: Steven Vincent.

Five months before Carroll's abduction, Vincent, a 49-year-old New York art critic-turned war reporter, was kidnapped with his translator, Nour Itais, off a street in the southern port city of Basra. Vincent suffered the same fate as Carroll’s translator, Allan Enwiyah, after he and Nour were driven away: He was shot in the head and killed. Nour was shot and left for dead; but she survived.

A hawk on the war, Vincent left behind an extraordinary body of work in spite of his untimely death. He was at his best when writing for conservative magazines such as National Review, Front Page, American Enterprise, and Commentary.

Sadly, many obituaries about him failed to give a full picture of the California native, who was the first American journalist murdered in Iraq.

Posted by Forkum at August 5, 2005 11:23 AM