Posted by Curt on 4 January, 2007 at 5:25 pm. 18 comments already!

Good news….now we have a real live person, FINALLY, to question about the Burning Six story:

The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.

The captain, whose full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, was one of the sources for an AP story in late November about the burning and shooting of six people during a sectarian attack at a Sunni mosque.

So now maybe we can get an explanation on how this police officer who works at the Khadra police station was able to get information on attacks citywide. 

Maybe we can find out why the AP first reported four mosques being burnt:

Earlier that day, rampaging militiamen burned and blew up four mosques and torched several homes in the capital’s mostly Shia neighborhood of Hurriyah, police said. Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the assault by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia or subsequent attacks that killed a total of 25 Sunnis, including women and children, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein.

But was quickly found to not be the case:

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.

In regards to the actual burning of six Sunni’s the only thing the AP has to prove that this incident happened are three unnamed witnesses, one Imam who quickly retracted the story, and one police officer named Jamil Hussein.

That’s it. 

No names of the victims.  No family members of the victims have been identified.  No one know where the bodies are.  No photographic evidence of a burning.  Nothing other then the word of three unnamed witnesses and a police officer.  In fact other residents denied this happened.

Case in fact, the NYT:

Fanned by fear, rumors spread quickly throughout the day. In the evening, a resident named Imad al-Hashemi said in a telephone interview on Al Jazeera, the Arab news network, that gunmen had doused some people with gasoline and set them on fire. Other residents contacted by telephone denied this.

The WaPo:

Throughout Friday, rumors of new atrocities committed against Sunnis floated across Baghdad, including one in which six Sunnis were doused with kerosene and torched to death in Hurriyah. But two local imams, in an interview, denied such an attack took place.

Hmmm.  But hey, this Police Captain said it happened….it just has to be true.

At the original news briefing by the MoI they also stated that there was no evidence found regarding this burning:

Q There is conflicting news about burning six people in one of the Baghdad neighborhoods. What is the truth about this incident?

A This is another rumor; we dispatched our forces to the area where the rumor claimed the burning took place and found nothing. We also send a team to Al-Dab Aladly (medical center) and I was in touch with this center. No one can confirm any burned, dead body was received. MOD also has no information about this incident, either.

So what we have here is a real police officer giving bogus information about an incident to inflame the Sunni population AND the AP reported it as fact without independently verifying it (3 unnamed witnesses is not verifying it), that my friends is a problem. 



As SeeDubya said at the beginning of this whole thing:

In both stories, the worst scenario is that the Western press is negligently or carelessly (I’m not ready to believe knowingly) passing along terrorist propaganda disguised as news. But even the best case scenario in each one involves some notable journalistic malfeasance. With Patterico, the LA Times story quite clearly refused to include CENTCOM’s denial that the Ramadi airstrike ever happened. At FA, an e-mail from a CENTCOM media guy explains that the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior has recently cracked down on unofficial spokesmen within the national police, and that no one below the rank of Chief may speak with the media.

Now a good reporter won’t let that stop him; if he has an eyewitness who will give an account–especially an on-the-record one–of what went down, that’s certainly preferable to some sanitized official version. And this AP reporter got his incorrect information from an Iraqi Captain named Jamil Hussein. Hmm…so maybe he was supposed to be an eyewitness to these (mythical) mosque-burnings in Hurriya? That’s what one might infer from the article. At the very least one might think this was a policeman who was tasked to investigate this particular incident and thus would have some knowledge of what occurred. But the value of Curt’s investigation here is that he sheds a little light on Jamil Hussein’s background–this guy comments on Iraq stories all the time, usually reporting chaos and mayhem in Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods all over Baghdad–Sadr City, Dora, Mansour, and others.

In other words, it looks less like Capt. Hussein is an eyewitness to this event, and more like he’s just an unofficial spokesman. But a spokesman for whom?

Who is he a spokesman for if none of these incident can be verified?  If he gives overblown stories to inflame sectarian division?

As many of us have said from the beginning, finding Jamil Hussein will not make this story go away.  Actually it makes it better since we can now question him on how he has been able to report on stories all across Baghdad.  On why no other witnesses can be found other then three who will not go on record, everyone else says it didn’t happen.  On why there is no record of any bodies going to a morgue or hospital as the AP reported.  On why no family of the victims can be found  nor can the vicims be identified.

Lots of questions to be answered.

And to add fuel to the fire recall Ray Robison questioning Jamils ties to al-Jazeera here.

And finally we have the NYT’s own reporter passing on the story because it seemed bogus:

Hi Tom, You ask me about what our own reporting shows about this incident. When we first heard of the event on Nov. 24, through the A.P. story and a man named Imad al-Hashemi talking about it on television, we had our Iraqi reporters make calls to people in the Hurriya neighborhood. Because of the curfew that day, everything had to be done by phone. We reached several people who told us about the mosque attacks, but said they had heard nothing of Sunni worshippers being burned alive. Any big news event travels quickly by word of mouth through Baghdad, aided by the enormous proliferation of cell phones here. Such an incident would have been so abominable that a great many of the residents in Hurriya, as well as in other Sunni Arab districts, would have been in an uproar over it. Hard-line Sunni Arab organizations such as the Muslim Scholars Association or the Iraqi Islamic Party would almost certainly have appeared on television that day or the next to denounce this specific incident. Iraqi clerics and politicians are not shy about doing this. Yet, as far as I know, there was no widespread talk of the incident. So I mentioned it only in passing in my report. Best, Ed Wong

Think this is a isolated incident?  Think again, recall the story about the 11 civilians shot to death by our military:

Separately, police and witnesses said U.S. soldiers shot and killed 11 civilians and wounded five on Sunday night in the Baghdad suburb of Husseiniya. The U.S. military said it had no record of any American military operation in the area.

"We were sitting inside our house when the Americans showed up and started firing at homes. They killed many people and burned some houses," said one of the witnesses, a man with bandages on his head who was being treated at Imam Ali Hospital in the Shiite slum of Sadr City. The police and witnesses spoke with Associated Press Television News on condition of anonymity to protect their own security.

Hmmmm, how do they explain this then:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Sir –

Reference the clarification requested on the story by AP below.

Anti-Iraqi Forces opened fire, targeting civilians in the al-Husseiniya area. 10 civilians were killed and six wounded at 11 p.m. Nov. 26. The incident was reported by the Iraqi Police through the Joint National Operations Center (a civilian matter relayed to the Coalition for tracking purposes). There was no Coalition involvement.

v/r

Capt. J. Elaine Hunnicutt (USAF)

Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Joint Operations Center
PAO OIC Nights

They don’t.  They just move on.  They never acknowledge the fact that they got the story wrong, not once.  As they are doing now with the Burning Six story.

As I named my post in the beginning of this whole thing, they are getting the news from the enemy, plain and simple.

Bring on Jamil Hussein!

And bring on Qais al-Bashir and Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq while your at it.

This ain’t over folks, not by a long shot.

UPDATE

As I’ve sat here mulling over this dispatch from the AP one thing struck me:

Hussein told the AP on Wednesday that he learned the arrest warrant would be issued when he returned to work on Thursday after the Eid al-Adha holiday. His phone was turned off Thursday and he could not be reached for further comment.

His phone was turned off?  Interesting…..why would his phone be turned off all of a sudden?  Would this mean he will once again NOT be produced for questioning?  Is he on the run or something?

Speculation at this point folks but interesting nonetheless.

Michelle Malkin reminds us what she posted on yesterday:

The "Jamil Hussein" story is one important item on our agenda, but not the only one. As Curt and other bloggers on this story have noted from the beginning, Jamilgate isn’t just about "Jamil Hussein." Bryan and I plan to do as much on-the-ground reporting as we can to nail down unresolved questions–not only about Jamil Hussein and the Hurriya six burning Sunnis allegations, but also about the AP four burning mosque story discrepancies and the many other AP sources that our military has publicly challenged–including "Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq" and more than a dozen police officers listed by U.S. military spokesman Navy Lt. Michael Dean.

Don Surber:

So 6 weeks after people asked AP to produce him, AP produced him.

Now to verify his claim that 6 Sunnis were burned alive.

Hot Air:

How is it that Hussein was able to comment on attacks all over Baghdad, including some far away from his precinct? How come the AP dropped the detail about four mosques being burned when it was challenged after their first report? Why couldn’t Bob Owens find corroborating stories from other media outlets on so many incidents sourced to Hussein? And why weren’t Armed Liberal’s sources, Eason Jordan’s sources, and Michelle’s sources collectively able to find this guy? I said last week in writing about Zombie’s response to HRW re: the Israeli ambulance attack that “I’ve reached the point where, when one of these blogstorms kicks up, I half-hope the media will produce the smoking gun that proves them right, just so we can have a little faith that they’re covering sensational incidents with due diligence.” Well, here’s the smoking gun. And while I have more faith now in the AP, I have less faith in the certainty of any information I get from Iraq. It took six weeks, with multiple people checking, to confirm the mere existence of a guy whose name, rank, and location were publicly known — and the issue would still be in doubt if Khalaf hadn’t come clean.

Confederate Yankee:

So it appears Jamil Hussein may be real. Good. that means there is a real person to question regarding 61 mostly uncorroborated stories provided as exclusives by Hussein to the Associated Press.

This includes the story that made him (in)famous, where Hussein and the AP claimed 24 people were killed–six by being pulled from a mosque, doused in kerosene, and purposefully burned alive, where the other 18 merely died in an "inferno" at another mosque under attack–during a series of four mosque attacks. In later AP stories, the four mosques trickled down to one, and 18 of the 24 dead mysteriously disappeared, without the Associated Press releasing a retraction or a correction.

Patterico’s Pontifications:

Plenty of questions like that remain unanswered. Still, the AP and crowing lefty bloggers will treat this as total vindication. That’s how the game is played: dumb it down to something simple like “Does Jamil Hussein exist?” and ignore the other issues.

And the most important quote so far:

Mr Owens,

The validity of the AP story below has not been confirmed at this time.

UPDATE 2000hrs PST

Ed Morrissey is wondering about this arrest warrant himself:

Why would they want to arrest him if he told the truth to the AP? Certainly crime is a matter of public record, and if his dozens of tips to the AP accurately describe real incidents, then they should have no real problem with his interaction with journalists. However, if he acted as a disseminator of disinformation for the purpose of undermining the Iraqi government and the American alliance, then they may have grounds for an arrest. Otherwise, simply relating actual incidents to a reporter should garner no more than a termination, and given the need for police in Iraq, it’s doubtful it would amount to even that.

Bill Faith is also skeptical:

Color this old dog very, very skeptical. So, the Iraqi Police may or may not arrest some dude and claim he’s Jamil, then they may or may not put him in a line-up where the AP people can claim "Yes we see him but we aren’t going to identify him; must protect our sources, y’know," and we’re all supposed to just forget about all those sole-sourced stories that still don’t check out? And our source for all this new-found knowledge is … the AP?

I find it quite humorous that the left is giddy with glee as if this whole story is over with.  The six Sunni’s were indeed burned because this one police officer was found…..no other evidence needs to be produced for them.

Funny how that works.

UPDATE 1-5-07 0800hrs PST

Karl over at Protein Wisdom has one of the best summaries of this whole story I’ve read yet:

In the original AP story, Hussein claimed that militiamen “burned and blew up four mosques and torched several homes” in Hurriyah. The Multi-Nation Corps stated that an Iraqi Army patrol found only one mosque had been burned. The AP’s follow-up story refers to a single mosque; Capt. Hussein’s claim of four mosques, afaik, has never been repeated, let alone substantiated. “Armed Liberal” Marc Danziger had two equally anonymous sources (likely journos with al Sabah) tell him that “at least two of the mosques in question are just fine.”

The AP’s other source—a Sunni elder—recanted after being visited by a representative of the defense minister. The AP may suspect coercion, but in the midst of a sectarian conflict, a Sunni elder is not exactly an unbiased source, either. The AP’s follow-up relied on three anonymous Sunnis; one claimed that he and others “took the six immolation victims to the Sunni cemetery near Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib suburb and buried them after the gunbattle.” But the AP’s original story reported that two (also anonymous) workers at Kazamiyah Hospital confirmed that the bodies were taken to the morgue at their facility (though there is no such morgue, just a freezer). Muslims are even more averse to exhuming bodies than Christians, which makes the AP’s second version—entirely anonymously sourced—near-impossible to verify.

The AP’s initial response to questions raised about Capt. Hussein stated that he “had a record of reliability and truthfulness,” neglecting to mention that the AP itself could not verify at least one of his prior claims and had contrary information. Moreover, The New York Times was unable to substantiate the story and reported that some neighborhood residents denied it. Similarly, the Washington Post reported that two local imams denied such an attack took place. Months later, disgraced former CNN exec. Eason Jordan found “conflicting and unconfirmed information regarding whether there’s a Captain Hussein and whether the reported immolation happened.” (I expect the left-leaning blogs that suddenly discover the Jamil Hussein story now will focus on the eeeevil right-wing blogs and largely ignore that The New York Times, WaPo and IraqSlogger were all a part of this particular VRWC.)

And Karl would be right.  The lefties are in full mouth frothing fury trying to spin this as the AP telling the truth while the right-wingers lie.  Oh, don’t forget that poor Jamil Hussein will be arrested.  I mean he was telling the truth right?

Um, no.  As Karl summarized above and my many posts before have shown, he has not told the truth.  Far from it.

Until the AP can provide the following:

  • Witnesses who will go on the record
  • Names of the victims
  • An explanation on why they first reported four mosques burnt and then changed it, on the sly, to one mosque
  • An explanation on how they confirmed the deaths via hospital and morgue workers but then reported they went directly to the grave
  • An explanation on how a police officer in Khadra was able to report on events citywide

We will have nothing but a story with absolutely no independent verifiication.  Just a few unnamed witnesses.  Thats it!  The printed a story about our troops killing 11 civilians but never retract it when it’s found to be a bogus story.  They printed a story about a Israeli airstrike in Lebanon but never retract it when evidence, a video to boot, is provided that proves it was staged. 

And now we are supposed to just believe them now?  Give me a break.

UPDATE 1-5-07 0900hrs PST

Eason Jordon
:

Why did it take all parties so long to provide proof of Captain Hussein’s existence?

Is Captain Hussein a reliable news source? While we now know he’s genuine, he was not an authorized spokesman. His critics, including his Iraqi government bosses and the U.S. military, have challenged the veracity of many of AP reports attributed to him. Many violent incidents reported by Captain Hussein via the AP were not reported by other western news organizations, raising suspicions about whether all those incidents occurred. The controversy likely will linger in this area, with third party reporting being done to determine the accuracy of Captain Hussein’s statements to the AP.

Whats curious is that no one other the AP has reported this verification of Jamil Hussein.  Centcom hasn’t.  The Iraqi MoI hasn’t.  Jamil Hussein has still not been produced.

Curious indeed.

Other’s Blogging:

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