Sunday, May 07, 2006

Staring Evil in the Face

I break my blog silence of late to share a chilling tale with you. I warn you, this story is graphic.

Atwar Bahjat, an Iraqi journalist, was recently killed along with her camera man and sound man. Her crew were shot in the head. She, unfortunately, suffered a much worse fate:
We now know that it was not that swift for Bahjat. First she was stripped to the waist, a humiliation for any woman but particularly so for a pious Muslim who concealed her hair, arms and legs from men other than her father and brother.

Then her arms were bound behind her back. A golden locket in the shape of Iraq that became her glittering trademark in front of the television cameras must have been removed at some point — it is nowhere to be seen in the grainy film, which was made by someone who pointed a mobile phone at her as she lay on a patch of earth in mortal terror.

By the time filming begins, the condemned woman has been blindfolded with a white bandage. It is stained with blood that trickles from a wound on the left side of her head. She is moaning, although whether from the pain of what has already been done to her or from the fear of what is about to be inflicted is unclear.

. . .

A large man dressed in military fatigues, boots and cap approaches from behind and covers her mouth with his left hand. In his right hand, he clutches a large knife with a black handle and an 8in blade. He proceeds to cut her throat
from the middle, slicing from side to side.

Her cries — “Ah, ah, ah” — can be heard above the “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) intoned by the holder of the mobile phone.

Even then, there is no quick release for Bahjat. Her executioner suddenly stands up, his job only half done. A second man in a dark T-shirt and camouflage trousers places his right khaki boot on her abdomen and pushes down hard eight times, forcing a rush of blood from her wounds as she moves her head from right to left.

Only now does the executioner return to finish the task. He hacks off her head and drops it to the ground, then picks it up again and perches it on her bare chest so that it faces the film-maker in a grotesque parody of one of her pieces to camera.

The voice of one of the Arab world’s most highly regarded and outspoken journalists has been silenced. She was 30.

According to the Mudville Gazette, her body was found with drill holes in her arms, stomach, and eyes, although it is unclear whether or not this happened before or after she died.

I realize that there are "sociopaths" in every society; people who fit the very definition of evil, taking perverse pleasure in causing suffering in others.

This goes far deeper than that. The conflict in Iraq seems to have brought these people out of the woodwork. From the slightly less macabre bombings of innocent people to the grotesque televised beheadings, we are confronted with people who have treated evil as if it were a legitimate political mouthpiece. These are not isolated incidents, either.

I share this story to make this point: In order to understand the stakes, we need to see clearly just who we are dealing with in this conflict. To those who wish we were never in Iraq, or want us to just leave right now . . . would you hand that nation over to such monsters? Does anybody deserve that?

Related Material: Ace on the Jihad against America . . . in 1786.

Well, it seems that, though Atwar Bahjat was killed, the video that supposedly depicts her death does not, in fact, depict her death. It's someone else.

I don't think this changes my original point, but it's worth noting.

No comments: