Sorry AP… Your Torched Sunni Report Is Still Very Bogus!
BIG UPDATE BELOW: The imam at the mosque in question where the “6 Sunni torchings” supposedly took place is accused of being a member of Saddam’s secret police by his own congregation!
** The AP is outraged that Centcom is questioning their 2nd or 3rd-person accounts! **
When interviewed by Reuters, al-Hashemi said they evacuated the wounded as soon as the attack moved on to other mosques–those mysterious disappearing ones, I guess–and does not say ONE WORD about burning Sunnis. But by the time he gave a phone interview to al-Jazeera, he’s saying he was eyewitness to the attackers dragging the six out of the mosque and burning them in front of his eyes, while (purportedly–does not appear until his NEW account) Iraqi security forces watch and do nothing. Double heh.
The Associated Press is standing by its report that six Sunni men were burned to death in Baghdad Friday by Shiites, even though U.S. military officials have accused the wire service of relying on a source who “is not who he claimed he was,” an Iraqi police captain.
Military officials also say they cannot confirm that the incident took place and have asked AP to retract or correct the story, which was repeated by media around the world and cited as a grim example of Shiites taking revenge for a deadly bombing that killed more than 200 people a day before.
“The and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question,” AP International Editor John Daniszewski said in a statement e-mailed to On Deadline this afternoon.
He added that “we have conducted a thorough review of the sourcing and reporting involved and plan to move a more detailed report about the entire incident soon, with greater detail provided by multiple eye witnesses.”
“The police captain cited in our story has long been known to the AP reporters,” Daniszewski wrote.
“The AP stands by its story.”
Umm… They may want to rethink that!
Revenge-seeking Shi’ite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near an Iraqi army post. The soldiers did not intervene, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.
The savage revenge attack for Thursday’s slaughter of 215 people in the Shi’ite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques and several homes while killing 12 other Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood, Hussein said.
Here is the Multi National Forces Iraq press release the next day on April 25, 2006 in response to this original AP report:
Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.
Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a patrol in Hurriya Friday afternoon in response to media reports that four mosques were being burned as retaliation for the VBIED attacks in Sadr City on Thursday.
The Soldiers set up a checkpoint near the Al Muhaimen mosque at approximately 2 p.m. and found the mosque intact with no evidence of any fire at the location.
So the AP later transformed their account of events slightly in their November 25, 5:45 PM report:
The U.S. military said Saturday that Iraqi soldiers securing Hurriyah found only one burned mosque and were unable to confirm residents’ and police accounts that six Sunni Arabs were dragged from Friday prayers and burned to death.
Notice, this wasn’t a correction.
Flopping Aces has the letter from Centcom that says that the Multi-Natinoal Forces Iraq cannot verify that the AP stringer actually works for the police:
We at Multi-National Corps – Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important. We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.
Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city’s Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.
So, where does this leave the original report so far?
So far we know that there were not 4 Sunni mosques torched as originally reported. There was one mosque that suffered fire damage to its doorway. That part of the story is not being disputed by the AP.
So the AP story is already bogus! We’re just not sure how much of their story is bogus.
The AP stringers could not find 4 torched mosques but they found “witnesses” days later who said they saw six Sunnis torched.
Al Muhaimen mosque: No evidence of any fire.
Al Meshaheda mosque: No evidence of a fire.
Al-Nidaa mosque: Sustained smoke, fire damage to entry way. Was not destroyed.
Alleged attack on fourth mosque remains unconfirmed.
The attempt by MNF-Iraq “to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP” does not seem so “ludicrous” when you already factor in that half of the story was made up!
Who’s really desperate, AP?
Update: (Wed. AM) The imam at the “attacked mosque”, Ahmed Al-Dabash, is accused by his own congregation of being a member of Saddam’s secret police. And, Sunni thugs were previously caught trying to smuggle arms into his mosque:
At the cement-rendered Ahbab Al-Mustafa mosque, the imam, Ahmed Al-Dabash, with the trademark straggly beard associated with pro-Sunni extremism, blamed Tuesday’s bombing on Shiite militias and denied that a day later his congregation had attacked the Shiites’ Al Tuheed mosque.
Amjad Jazim Mohammed, a member of the Shiite congregation, said that he and fellow worshippers went to help the dead and injured Sunnis, but that the explosion was not a Shiite attack – rather an accidental detonation as the Sunnis prepared car-bombs for use against local Shiites.
The story is as murky as that, but word that the two mosques are at war spread like wildfire. Iraqi security forces, backed by US tanks, now guard the Shiites, and attempts by the Sunnis to smuggle arms into their mosque were foiled by a vehicle search.
Amjad Jazim Mohammed, who said he saw the invasion, told the Herald: “The Sunnis blamed us for the attack on their mosque because they knew that the Americans would investigate the explosion and they did not want their bomb-making to be discovered.
At the Al Tuheed mosque, congregation members accused Dr Al-Dabash of having served in Saddam Hussein’s secret police, and of having recently studied in Saudi Arabia, where, they said, he was imbued with the Saudi’s extremist Wahabi Islamic doctrine.
Update 2: Centcom is not backing down!
Charles Johnson posts a response letter from Centcom:
I have just learned from Mr. Costlow, mentioned below, that Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the official Ministry of Interior spokesmen, will begin his regularly scheduled press conference at noon tomorrow with a statement that Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee.
Yesterday, coincidently, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior issued a press release warning of spreading propaganda aimed at broadcasters.
After media became free in Iraq and expressed the will of all without the government interfering, unfortunately, some satellite TV channels began misleading public opinion and disclosing chaos for a particular political agenda, by broadcasting propaganda that harms people and tries to shake the trust in security forces.
Such satellite channels are trying to affect Iraqi unity and claim that information was stated by a security source without mentioning the source. Information sources should be well-known and reliable, and to avoid repeating such unfair actions, MOI warns the media and insists on defending the people’s security and safety. MOI will take all immediate preventive procedures against media that broadcast propaganda, because such media intend to repress the will of Iraqis in fighting terror and crime.
We would like to mention that such procedures we do not consider as chaining true free media, but it is a legal defense for Iraqi security and the safety of our people.
If you have any additional questions, please let us know.
Michael B. Dean
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer