Tuesday, July 10, 2007

See No Evil

Michael Yon responded to an email I had sent asking for more verification on the story of a boy who had been baked by al-Qaeda and served to his family. In the reply, Mr. Yon pointed out that he's published such additional material as he can find and verify in his latest post, which I urge you to read. For the moment, Michael Yon goes on to simply lay out his sources of not only about the story of the boy but that of the mass graves, of which he has photographic evidence plus video interviews from named sources, which you can view on his site. This is in some contrast to some regular journalists who are fond of using unnamed sources. Yon lays out his evidence and contrasts it to the media dismissals:

Many look to mainstream media for “verifiable” news from Iraq, as if all those who work for established publications must by definition practice their profession with some basic level of talent and dedication. Not to unfairly single out the Associated Press—who have had some reporters in Iraq, like Tony Castenada, who produced fair and accurate reports—but the AP’s Director of Media Relations, Paul Colford, went on the record for Confederate Yankee about why the AP had not picked up the story of the Al Hamari gravesites, with a statement that seems to indicate they place a high value on reliable sources:

“With regard to Michael Yon, the Iraqi police and the U.S. military—to our current knowledge—have issued no statements to the AP about 10-14 bodies being found on June 29 in a village outside Baquba, even though the military, according to Mr. Yon’s online account, were involved in the discovery.”—Paul Colford

To see what the AP might have by way of reliable, mainstream, news resources, on the morning of 07 July, I asked Talal, an Associated Press stringer in Baqubah, if he had heard about the Al Hamari murders, and our conversation went something like this:

“Yes,” answered Talal.
“How many had been killed?” I asked.
“35,” answered Talal. Not “about 35”, but precisely 35.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“A medic at the Baqubah hospital told me,” Talal said.
“What was the medic’s name?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” answered Talal.
“You didn’t ask?”
“No,” he said. Talal said a doctor told him the same thing, but that he did not know the doctor’s name. He had not asked. Besides which, Talal said, the doctor and the medic were afraid to give their names.
“How were the people killed?” I asked.
“They were shot,” answered Talal as he motioned shooting with a pistol.
“Did you tell someone at AP headquarters in Baghdad?” I asked.
“Yes,” answered Talal.
“Who did you tell?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” answered Talal.

Captain Baker, who was commanding the Iraqi Army soldiers at al Hamari that day, was a primary source of information. I videotaped this interview as his soldiers were still digging up remains nearby:

I think a reasonable person, looking at the photographs on Michael Yon's site plus the video interviews he presents from named sources, would be at least open to the idea that al-Qaeda may have committed some atrocities.


Blogger Alversjr said...

I ran across something from early 2005 by LTC Tim Ryan. The original seems to be gone, but it’s discussed here.
In the middle, he mentions “the body that was put into a bread oven and baked”. It’s interesting that such a similar story was reported over 2 years ago. I’m not saying that the report is necessarily any more/less accurate than the recent baked child. I don’t know.. but two shocking revelations of essentially the same thing, at vastly different times and presumably differently locations probably deserves some more investigation. Someone should be talking to the Iraqi official and LTC Ryan about the basis of their claim, and then tracing it back to the source. Eventually we’ll get to either an eyewitness (family member or someone who saw the body) or it will remain an unconfirmed story (rumor). A story backed up with evidence would go a long way toward swaying me from 'could be true' to 'very likely true'. Right now it’s believable, but you really can't be sure about it either way.

7/10/2007 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger Ticker said...

Yon says one of the reasons people doubt the account is that it is too horrible to be true. Then he goes on to say that coldly considered, we have testimony to the effect that it happened, but while that is not enough to conclusively prove the fact, the supposition it is "too horrible" is no valid objection either. He says we have all kinds of proof of barbarous behavior, from slaughterhouses to videos, etc. So the notion that al-Qaeda couldn't do anything so horrible, must certainly be the weakest of all refutations.

So what we have is a single instance of testimony of a horrifying atrocity from a named source. To fully believe it we need collateral confirmation. That I think, is the fair assessment. But to doubt it, we need a little more than the idea that "it's too horrible". The similarity of the incident to stories or earlier reports falls into a similar category. We don't reject accounts of a beheading simply because we heard about beheadings before. But we don't automatically believe them either. Once again, the need for collateral evidence.

That may be forthcoming or not. Things aren't so tidy as Perry Mason episode.

7/10/2007 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Victor Davis Hanson does us all a favor by reminding us of the mythic quality of the story, relating it to classic Greek myths.

Whether or not the story is true in a literal sense, the fact that an Iraqi repeated it to Mr. Yon shows something important about the Iraqi psychology. They are beginning to separate themselves from the foreign terrorists.

If that is true, it is a momentous development.

7/10/2007 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

The corollary is we don't need anything but the most spurious rumor to believe the worst about US troops, or 9/11 Conspiracies, and the like. "Controlled implosion," "Jews did not show up to work," etc.


Because AQ is not viewed as a real threat. They can't be a threat because they don't fundamentally threaten that which is most important to elites: WHO HAS POWER.

However, the military, ordinary citizens, patriotic nationalism, and all that form a HUGE THREAT to elites. From all that power will diminish from the salons, the talk-shops, and the elites to others.

Thus, believe Michael Yon? No. Believe the US military kills journalists (as Eason Jordan alleged)?? Sure.

7/10/2007 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

This story indicates a moral cliff, even by al-Qaeda standards.

If al-Qaeda were truly responsible for baking a boy and serving him to his family, why wouldn't al-Qaeda proclaim this atrocity to all of humanity? Although the fact that al-Qaeda has not publicly boasted of this atrocity doesn't prove the truth or falsehood of the story, its unwillingness to brag about it may show -- possibly for the first time in al-Qaeda's history -- the limits of the evil to which al-Qaeda will publicly acknowledge.

If al-Qaeda would revel in massacring innocent children, why would it refrain from claiming responsibility for this particular atrocity? If this atrocity were something to be proud of, why hasn't the baking of children been recommended in official al-Qaeda manuals? What would al-Qaeda stand to lose from bragging about such an atrocity, just like the ancient Aztecs bragged about similar behavior?

Perhaps Iraqi children should be taught the story of Hansel and Gretel...

7/10/2007 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I had a tough time believing that one too. It had a jump the shark quality to it. Like many, what I took it to mean was that the Iraqis who told the story hated al queada and wanted the americans to know their feeling beyond a doubt.

Here's a piece that talks about oil demand exceeding supply in five years.

7/11/2007 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: AQ and roasted alive, served medium-rare.

Why hasn't AQ claimed responsibility? Better question is why hasn't AQ denied responsibility, or promised to investigate and punish the offense? Yeah, right, no reason to take on the bad habits of civilization.

An organization that enslaves people with fear need say nothing.

I can't wait for the elections and someone to ask the leftists how they stand on doing whatever it takes, sacrificing all to exterminate those who would roast a child (or behead a child, or cut of the arms of recently immunized children ala the NVA, or post videos of blood spurting from freshly cut necks on the internet where children will see them).

Well, I can dream.

7/11/2007 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

6.5 million jews...

30% children

millions of handicapped people

millions of gypsies

shoved into ovens by the roomload...

all in all the civilized germans butchered 13 million people in death camps...

the world did not want to believe then, alot still choose not to believe...

pol pot, rwanda, darfur, zimbabwe, congo, stalin, mandela and his necklacings, saddam and his mass graves, hama, iran and the monkey that runs it with his chinese plastic keys to heaven and his innvation to stitch up the cloths of the young boy/human mine sweepers he recruited by the 100,000's of thousands..


Or are we on earth to make sure our country has a great supply of cheap shit from china and burgers from mcdonalds?

7/11/2007 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/11/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

7/11/2007 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Harrison said...

Agreed - by simply consciously choosing to negate the possibility that it ever happened through the utterance or thought that something is way too horrifying to contemplate, that does not itself invalidate Yon's account.

Is it so difficult to believe the extent of barbarity that AQ and its demonic ilk are capable of? Of course, apologists and sympathisers of the Left still need to be convinced that AQ is indeed killing innocents in Iraq, thus this account will be deemed as a propaganda attempt by Yon to opportunistically galvanise demonisation of the jihadists by appealing to their record of inhuman behaviour. What is lost in the uproar over the unbelievability of the account is the contradiction that these doubters choose to mask: to accuse Yon of appealing to sensibilities shaped by previous incidents of brutality is to acknowledge the validity of those incidents.

And they still insist that those incidents didn't take place. Undercutting their own argument without realising it - but who's checking?

alexis said:

Although the fact that al-Qaeda has not publicly boasted of this atrocity doesn't prove the truth or falsehood of the story, its unwillingness to brag about it may show -- possibly for the first time in al-Qaeda's history -- the limits of the evil to which al-Qaeda will publicly acknowledge.

I can only hope that you are right, and that this is a gap from which we can breach and unravel the jihadist narrative. By acknowledging each successive act that scales upwards of brutality, AQ is merely pushing itself further and further away from the fringes of legitimacy. But the countervailing forces which are dictated by how tolerant or accommodating AQ-supporters are of each new perversion may preserve or even boost AQ's credibility on the street.

7/11/2007 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Mickey Kavanaugh said...

It seems to me there's a synthesis of the tactics of the old Baath secret police and AQ, at least annecdotally. I recall stories of Saddam's police torturing family in front of one another and leaving daughter's heads on father's doorsteps and the like.

Yon points to AQ's dependence on "local talent." This is more than coincidental.

Not to say that AQ needs Uday and Qusay disciples to increase their depravity, but a correlation nonetheless.

7/11/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger scory said...

Given the record of well-known atrocities committed across the globe over the past 100 years the only thing I find surprising about this story is that anyone would be particularly skeptical of it. Even if not true is there anyone out there who believes that these savages are not fully capable of such a thing? And isn't that the point?

7/11/2007 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I don't have the literary competence
for stating this in an indirect manner so here is a thought exercise.
If I were in charge of a terrorist organization I would have some atrocities committed, enough to lend credence to my reputation, and then pump up the rumor mill. The rumor is more certain to instill terror than the newspaper. The terror would be aimed at non-combatants and the outrage would be aimed at the military in order to anger them beyond control. My people wouldn't have to undergo the continued acts of atrocities, allowing me to use less experienced personnel who believed in the cause. I'm convinced that the attempts at terror take as much of a toll on the mufsidun as on the public.

7/11/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...


after considering this post it occurs to me that there was an unintended logical problem in your first post on the subject that helped set off the topic.

Your set up to the forced aq cannibalism story is that aq was recruiting young boys to do their murder for them.
""They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.

At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking."
Ok stop right here. What is the expectation here that you have set up? Wouldn't the expectation be that AQ wanted the resisting families to give over their boys so that AQ could use them to murder people? The next line seems to confirm this

"In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. "
Now someone especially alert would have caught that an 11 year old in 2007 would have been born in1996 or three years after 1991-3. Or they might have reflected that the murders happened three years before--or 2004. So this story may be in some aspect already three years old. What aspect would that be? Well, likely the next story. Because it motivates familes to give up their children to do murder for AQ

So the next story actually preceded the previous story. However most just assumed AQ was looking for more recruits to do their dirty work--as their boy murderers where taken out.

That's the way the reader is being pitched. However, this line of thinking by the reader is turned on its head when it turns out the boys are being murdered and force fed to their parents. So the boys - instead of being used for murder are instead murdered most foul.

But what's the sense in that if AQ wanted to use the boys for murder.

As I mentioned, if this story of murder and cannibalism came before the story of the boys being sent out to do murder--then the scenario would have made sense. Why? Because the infamous terror wrought by this incident would have made it easier for AQ to recruit young boys from unwilling families in the future.


7/11/2007 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...


Not really. We are on Earth to attend to our own business and vital interests. Not play 911 cops to the planet and bankrupt ourselves.

Any remaining Jews that urge us into more "easy cakewalks" with Iran and Syria instead of "Walmart America" are welcome to fight and die instead, as Jews have the lowest military participation rate of any ethnicity in the USA.

Michael Yon royally screwed up.

He swallowed a tale on the par of AQ foreswearing forced cannibalism in a town but instead starting up a beer factory and ringing the town with billboards displaying American blonde porn Queens.

7/11/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

Jews have the lowest military participation rate of any ethnicity in the USA.

tell that to my dead uncle who died in nam, to my father that served in korea, to my other 5 uncles that served and fought in ww2, apparently you never spent anytime in the east coast and never heard to the jewish war vet's?

so in MY family I am the only man never to serve, i did register as required, but i am the only male of 3 generations that did not wear a uniform, the same goes for most of my cousins, their fathers & uncles all served...

me thinks you protest too much

how is it possible that a country under draft or registration one specific ethnic could be exempt?

7/11/2007 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

C4" Not really. We are on Earth to attend to our own business and vital interests. Not play 911 cops to the planet and bankrupt ourselves.

Then that is the difference between you and I, I do believe there is more to the usa than cheap houses and porn...

I believe in the greatness of america and it's DUTY and RESPONSIBILITY to be a LIGHT UNTO THE WORLD, you dont...

so I shall advocate the USA TO be LEADERS in the world, no the selfish, crass consumers you seem to feel we should be....

America SHOULD lead the CHARGE in Darfur, Congo, Iraq and other places. Freedom from genocide is a universal right, sorry you dont feel that way..

so I shall advocate the USA use it's blood and treasure, not for cheap consumer goods, but to help MILLIONS of people live better lives...

All across the world america TRIES to do good for good's sake... this the american I love and support.

you sir may love cheap walmart goods, that is your right, enjoy your cheap hanes jockeys, i will advocate a few cents more to help eliminate sweatshops

7/11/2007 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

c4 Any remaining Jews that urge us into more "easy cakewalks" with Iran and Syria instead of "Walmart America" are welcome to fight and die instead,

dont worry c4, sharia is coming to YOU no matter whether the Joos advocate taking the fight to them

7/11/2007 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

Give it up, C-fudd. You're only embarrassing yourself with your comments; no content, just sweaty, compulsive Jew-baiting. I guess you've given up your laughable attempts to disguise it, because the posters and readers of Wretchard's blog are too smart to fall for a nitwit like you.

What do you do for a living, anyway? On the Althouse blog you gave out more details about the Ginsburgs' finances than they probably know themselves. Where do you find the time for this research? I can't do it, I have to work a real job to support myself and my family. Is someone paying you for this? Independently wealthy? Welfare? Sugar daddy?

7/12/2007 01:52:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

C-4, Jews only make up 4% of the population. That would be 4 in a hundred. Thay also are disproportionately represented in the upper, more elite, class of American society that as a group does not serve in the military, but that is true of all members of that elite group. Your assertion is both silly and untrue. I never served in any outfit that did not include Jews. Some of them even drank beer.

7/12/2007 03:00:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...


we're 1.7%...

7/12/2007 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

i drink ONLY real german and dutch beer

7/12/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

i drink ONLY real german and dutch beer
Before I gave up drinking out of fear for my life 15 years ago. I discovered that if you wanted a tasty beer with bite the best thing to do was to was to mix a budwieser--which is all bite and no taste...with a european dark or amber beer which is all taste and no bite.

7/12/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jewish Odysseus said...

Wretchard, here is a 6/30 MNF-I press release that I have assumed referred to the massacre described by Michael Yon:

Local tip leads Coalition Forces to mass grave
Saturday, 30 June 2007
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

RELEASE No. 20070630-12
June 30, 2007

Local tip leads Coalition Forces to mass grave
Multi National Force – West

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – A local Iraqi citizen’s tip led Coalition Forces to the site of a mass grave late Friday evening outside Ferris, approximately 35 kilometers south of Fallujah.

Coalition Forces uncovered 35 to 40 bodies at the site. The remains were bound and had gunshot wounds.

This incident is currently under investigation.



7/12/2007 08:15:00 PM  

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