Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3478078 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Italian Hostage Incident in Iraq
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (5)

To recap:

On February 4th, 2005, Giuliana Sgrena, a journalist working for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto was kidnapped at gunpoint near a Baghdad university.

On March 4th, US forces fired on a car containing her, killing Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari and wounding Sgrena.

The US has just released a report clearing US troops of any wrongdoing in the incident, asserting that the car was approaching a checkpoint at 50 miles per hour and failed to respond to warnings to slow and stop.

From the ABC story about the report:

The U.S. investigation said the incident might have been prevented by better coordination between the Italian government and U.S. forces in Iraq.

Hmm...yes. Better coordination. The Italians are releasing their own report today, which is expected to criticize the US. Calipari was giving a hero's funeral in Italy, and is now widely seen as some sort of martyr and a victim of US recklessness and aggression.

But was this recklessness on the part of American troops?

This AFP story (via Wizbang) notes a CBS report with interesting information:

A US satellite reportedly recorded a checkpoint shooting in
Iraq last month, enabling investigators to reconstruct how fast a car carrying a top Italian intelligence official and a freed hostage was traveling when US troops opened fire.

The report, which aired Thursday on CBS News, said US investigators concluded from the recording that the car was traveling at a speed of more than 60 miles (96 km) per hour.

Giuliana Sgrena has said the car was traveling at a normal speed of about 30 miles an hour when the soldiers opened fired, wounding her and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian agent who had just secured her release from a month's captivity.

US soldiers said at the time of the March 4 incident that the car approached at a high rate of speed and that they fired only after it failed to respond to hand signals, flashing bright lights and warning shots.

Why would the Italian car whisking away the hostage from her captors, be on the road without having communicated or given notification to US troops?

Could it be because they paid a huge chunk of cash to secure her release?

The Italian government has virtually admitted a ransom was paid, with the agriculture minister in Silvio Berlusconi's rightwing government, Giovanni Alemanno, saying it was "very likely".

He added it was "generally preferable to pay a financial price than the price of a human life or a political price consisting of [submitting to] blackmail by pulling out troops".

An Iraqi MP told Belgian state television on Saturday that a $1m (£520,000) ransom was paid. But Italian media reports spoke of a payment of up to $8m.

In an interview broadcast by Sky Italia, Sgrena said: "The United States does not approve of this policy and so they try to stop it in any way possible."

Her implication is that troops intentially targeted the car, which is absurd.

But gosh, why would we approve of paying ransoms of millions of dollars to terrorist insurgents? Gosh, hmm...let me think about that one.

I don't claim to know all the facts here, and I'm certainly open to the possibility that our troops acted irresponsibly. But cobbling together a semblence of the truth from these accounts, it seems to me that what happened here was that Italian intelligence secretly negotiated a ransom with the hostage takers and didn't communicate their plan or travel route with coalition forces, because they didn't want anybody to know about it.

It was done at night, in secret, and ended horribly wrong mostly because Italy didn't want the publicity and was probably correct in assuming that the US would not want to directly assist with a payoff that would inject a huge pile of funding the people they're fighting on a day to day basis (Incidentally, I wonder how many roadside bombs have been funded with that money that have killed US troops?).

The alternate story, the Italian version, is presumably that Calipari just talked sweet to Sgrena's captors, asked pretty please, and they let her go. They were putting along at 30mph in the dead of night, just minding their own business, when US troops spotted them, thought "Hey, there are those scummy Italians!" and hailed down bullets like the end of Bonnie and Clyde.

Which one seems more likely?

Read/Post Comments (5)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.