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Saddam trial - Rory Carrol Kidnapped - A co-incidence?


Rome, 19 Oct. (AKI) - The Iraq correspondent of the British Guardian newspaper was reported kidnapped on Wednesday, as he left the house of a family on the outskirts of Baghdad, after having watched the start of Saddam Hussein's trial on television with them. The decision to cover an historic event from a humble sitting room, surrounded by people who had lived under Saddam's regime, was typical of Rory Carroll, one of the paper's most dynamic and battle-hardened journalists.

"That choice was certainly very representative of his journalistic approach. He is quintessentially the type of journalist who wants to talk to people on the spot," said John Hooper, the Guardian's correspondent in Rome, where Carroll, an Irishman, did his first stint as a foreign correspondent.

"At least until a few years ago, Rory was the youngest staff correspondent at the paper, and he has seen a lot of action," recalled Hooper. Though only 33, Carroll was on his third serious foreign posting, moving from Rome to Johannesburg, where he travelled widely for his work, and then Baghdad.

He had been going intermittently to Iraq on special assignments before being sent there permanently at the start of 2005, and had also worked in various conflict zones in Africa. "He was fully aware of the dangers involved in his job," said Hooper.

"He is not only a terrifically energetic chap but also a very perceptive one," noted Hooper, who recently was so impressed by an old article of Carroll's that he came across that he sent him an email. "I thought what he wrote showed great insight and felt the need to compliment him," he added.

Foreign correspondents in Rome, who knew Carroll during his stint in the Italian capital, say he lives and breathes news, and wants to get under the skin of the countries he is covering.

The Guardian newspaper has given only the bare facts of what they believed has happened, saying Carroll was thought to have been abducted by a group of armed men. The kidnapping took place in the run-down Shiite suburb of Sadr City. Most of the other foreign journalists who have been abducted in Iraq have been seized by Sunni armed groups. - adnki.com

Calls for speedy release of Rory Carroll

19/10/2005 - 17:54:39 - Irish and British politicians tonight called for the speedy release of Dublin journalist Rory Carroll who is believed to have been kidnapped while reporting for The Guardian newspaper in Baghdad. Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern spoke to Irish embassy officials in Tehran and Cairo and is also liaising with the British Foreign Office. The minister's spokesman added: "Mr Ahern is being briefed on a minute-by-minute basis and closely monitoring the unfolding situation."

Earlier, Mr Ahern spoke by telephone to Carroll's father, Joe, and to senior editors at The Guardian newspaper. A year ago, Mr Ahern personally intervened in the kidnap of Ken Bigley when he issued an Irish passport to convince his captors of his Irish citizenship.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the British government would assist in any way it could, if asked, to help free the Dublin-born journalist. "We will do whatever the Irish Government asks us to do, because of course he is an Irish citizen," Mr Hain said. "He may have been working for a British paper but he's an Irish citizen. We will give what help we can but only whatever Dublin wants us to do."

The MP said it was a very serious case but stressed that Carroll should be considered an Irish national.

"He is an Irish citizen and although we are on the ground and may be able to help, it is very important that people out in Iraq, and maybe including those people responsible for this terrible abduction, understand that he is an Irish citizen, albeit working for a British newspaper," he told RTE Radio. "Therefore the Irish Government is the one that will be in the lead on this."

Irish Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin said: "We would appeal to those who kidnapped Rory to release him as soon as possible. We will obviously be monitoring the situation very closely."

Labour party TD and international affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins called on the Irish Government to urge everybody with influence in Iraq to help bring about Carroll's release. "It should be made immediately clear that Mr Carroll is a professional carrying out his task of reporting objectively on the Middle East, something he has done with fairness and distinction to date," he said - IOL

Rory Carrol wrote this on the July 19, 2005

Courts resort to rushed justice

With Saddam Hussein's trial looming, Rory Carroll spent a day in court in Baghdad and found it to be secretive, overloaded and quick

Tuesday July 19, 2005 The Guardian - It was once a museum for Saddam Hussein's trophies, a round ornate building in central Baghdad displaying gifts from foreign leaders. Now it is Iraq's central criminal court and the exhibits are suspected insurgents in orange jumpsuits and shackles. More than 500 trials have been held this year at the court and that is just the start of an attempt to process 16,000 detainees held in Abu Ghraib and other prisons.

The special tribunal set up to try Saddam and his leading officials has grabbed the headlines but the criminal court is, arguably, the more important institution and already controversial.

Many ordinary Iraqis say the court, set up by the US-led occupation authority soon after the 2003 invasion, is too soft on guerrillas, who have killed 8,000 people this year. Public executions would be popular.

But defence lawyers say hearings are tilted against defendants who typically claim to be innocent Sunnis picked up by US soldiers or sectarian Iraqi forces. "How can you prepare if you're given a case minutes before the trial starts? And if you're not shown all the evidence?" said Jawad Ali, part of the team of state-paid defence lawyers.

A colleague, Hikmat al-Jaburi, said lawyers seldom requested postponements or appeals because they receive a flat $33 per case, regardless of duration or complexity. "Better for us if it goes quickly," he said. Lawyers also claimed American officials have sought one-day trials to minimise the number of perilous trips to and from Abu Ghraib.

Trials are supposed to be open to the media but that was news to the guards who waved through convoys from the jail but stopped other vehicles. The Guardian needed special permission from the justice ministry to gain access. The court's marble corridors were filled with smoke and chatter from Iraqi police, court officials in black robes and US soldiers in body armour. Only the shackled men in orange were silent. There were three courts each with a three-judge panel but no juries. Defence lawyers and prosecutors appeared to be marginal players. All six trials attended by the Guardian were over in an hour, with most defendants convicted. No witnesses were called.

Two young Saudis were cleared of terrorism charges but convicted of entering Iraq without passports. Nabel Solami said he came for jihad but was caught before getting the chance. He received six years. Battal Athe, who seemed to earn the judges' scorn by saying his intention was to smuggle cannabis, received 15 years.

Since January about two-thirds of US-held defendants in US custody were convicted, usually for lesser offences such as weapons possession, according to US military figures. Two defendants received 15 years to life for killing US soldiers. At least five convicted murderers have been sentenced to hang. In one case this week four men, a father, his two adult sons and a nephew, were accused of possessing a grenade and bomb-making equipment allegedly found by US troops in a raid on their home in Mosul in January.

The trial started at 10.17am. The men said the equipment was for welding and fixing televisions. They knew nothing about the grenade. A female prosecutor in a two-minute presentation demanded the nephew be acquitted but 20 years for the others. The defence lawyer, given the case an hour earlier and seeing his clients for the first time, repeated their explanations. The judges retired to deliberate at 10.50. Five minutes later they acquitted the nephew and sons but sentenced the father, Hassan Muslih, to 20 years because the house title deeds were in his name. US soldiers returned him to Abu Ghraib.

Court officials and American advisers said judges have the resources and independence to ensure fairness for alleged beheaders, snipers, kidnappers and bomb-makers.

"We face many challenges. Our task is to impose the rule of law and we are doing that. It is working," said Kamel Majid, the court's president. - - Guardian

and this on the October 18, 2005
a day before he went missing

Trial of the century? Not for Iraqis

Rory Carroll in Baghdad Tuesday October 18, 2005 The Guardian

The stage is set, the actors are ready, but the audience is distracted. Saddam Hussein's trial starts tomorrow, trailing words such as momentous and historic, a courtroom drama with a gallows in the wings. The former president is expected to play his part, defiant and confident even if denied a tie lest he make a premature noose. The prosecution and defence have studied transcripts from Nuremberg and The Hague and rehearsed their lines. Five judges will determine the final act.

Iraq, however, does not quite fit the bill of a nation thirsting for justice. The man who ruled like an Arab Stalin for two decades, whose persona invaded his citizens' thoughts more effectively than his troops invaded neighbouring countries, has shrunk. The ragged fugitive dragged from a spider hole near Tikrit in December 2003 was physically diminished - Saddam lost weight on the run - and the subsequent incarceration and near invisibility whittled his relevance.

"People here don't think it will be a fair trial. But they will do nothing because they don't care about him," said Fawzi Mohammad, 48, a cement plant manager in Falluja, a city of ruins and a symbol of resistance to the Americans. "Saddam now is the past for us. He is like an old currency, worthless."

Abbas Ali Hassan, secretary of Falluja's city council, bristled at the name. "Forget him. We want to develop. We don't want to remain on the shore. We want to go deeper into the sea."

Saddam packed his regime with fellow Sunni Arabs, perpetuating the sect's historic dominance over Shias and Kurds, but that did not purchase loyalty from Falluja's tribal sheikhs, said Lieutenant Colonel Pat Carroll, a US marine political officer based in the city. "They never bring him up. He is yesterday's man. They have too many other things to worry about."

In Kurdistan and Shia cities such as Najaf and Basra people, when prompted, express satisfaction, sometimes glee, when imagining the despot in the dock. When not prompted they discuss the lack of jobs, electricity and security.

It is not that the pain is forgotten. How can survivors from Halabja, the Kurdish town gassed in 1988, forget losing 5,000 friends and relatives? How can Shias forget those executed in the 1991 uprising while mass graves are being excavated in the desert? President Jalal Talabani spoke for many when he said Saddam could not be hanged enough times.

But there is little sense of anticipation. Iraqis understood he was finished when the statue fell in April 2003. His capture eight months later was anti-climactic; television crews sent to film cheering crowds struggled to find them.

His face disappeared from banknotes, portraits and murals. The legions who wore that Ba'athist badge of honour, the bushy moustache, thinned. Videos of his speeches are now hard to find at Bab al-Sharqi market, unlike grainy insurgent propaganda videos or "romances" recorded from porn channels.

Outsiders might view the last two-and-a-half years as a bloody stalemate but Iraqis feel they are at warp speed: occupation, notional sovereignty, two governments, an election, a constitutional referendum, another election in December.

Cars, mobile phones and access to satellite television have proliferated as has the number of women wearing headscarves. Saddam is unfinished business, a relic from another era.

Tomorrow's trial, the first of 12, concerns the killing of 143 Shias from the village of Dujail, revenge for a failed assassination attempt when Saddam visited in 1982; a footnote compared to other bloodbaths but one with a better paper trail.

If the televised proceedings inflame Arab Sunni passions it will not be out of concern for Saddam but what his presence in the dock represents: victory for Shias and Kurds. "Some sides will use the trial as an excuse to play certain sects against each other," said Falluja's mayor, Sheikh Dhari Abdu Hadi. Translation: he will be lynched by our enemies.

Government officials admit that Shia militias with links to Iran have infiltrated the police and army. Human rights groups accuse them of operating death squads against Sunnis. Such is the fear, Sunnis prefer to be arrested by Americans than the Shia-led security forces. "They no longer see us as the problem. Now there is a big Shia cloud hanging over the south and Baghdad," said Col Carroll.

Many Sunnis suspect that Saddam is facing a kangaroo court which is another front in the campaign against their sect. Sunnis who live near Dujail have no love for the former president yet they have started killing and terrorising the village's Shias in revenge for the trial. For these crimes at least Saddam, jailed deep inside the fortified green zone and under 24-hour surveillance, has an alibi. - guardian.co.uk

He [Carrol] said he did not know who was responsible for snatching him. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi was present when he was released after a day and a half in darkness. "I don't know who took me," Carroll said. "I was released about an hour ago. I'm fine. I was treated reasonably well," he added. "I spent the last 36 hours in the dark. I was released into the hands of Dr. Chalabi."

- Irish journalist freed in Iraq, wants to stay

Note: If we see Saddam Husseins showtrial as a diversion, further we see a kidnapping of Carrol, who is then released as part of 'a deal' made by: Ahmed Chalabi -

Guardian correspondent Rory Carrol Kidnapped on opening day of Saddam Husseins trial - He also wrote on Simon Manns involvement with Mercenary units set up by agents connected to Thatcher / Pinochet / Bush / Riggs Bank / MI6 / SAS & South African ex-Military... on trial for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the oil-rich government of Equatorial Guinea. These Companies, such as 'Executive Outcomes' 'Stevedoring' 'CACI' & 'Erynis' also have contracts in Iraq. These Private Troops have been suspected of taking part in Black-ops kidnappings such as that of fellow Journalist Guliana Segrena...

On Thursday, Rory Carroll, 33, the Baghdad correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian was released unharmed in Sadr City, a day after being kidnapped there by unidentified gunmen. A group of Sadr City residents reportedly raided the area where he was being held by criminals and freed him. - more ABC News

How does this tie in with The Valerie Plame / Niger Forgeries?

Briton accused of plotting coup drops legal team

Rory Carroll in Johannesburg - Tuesday July 13, 2004 - The Guardian

Simon Mann, the alleged mastermind behind a suspected mercenary plot foiled by Zimbabwe, has hired new lawyers to negotiate his release from a maximum security jail in Harare.

The former British officer has angered his co-accused by dropping the lawyers they share. One of them claimed yesterday that Mr Mann was pursuing a private deal with the Zimbabwe authorities which could result in his transfer to Britain and to freedom.

The move came close to next week's opening of their trial for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the oil-rich government of Equatorial Guinea, a plot which collapsed in March when the group landed at Harare airport for fuel and weapons, only to be arrested.

Mr Mann was detained with three crew members and 66 men, mostly former members of South Africa's defence forces, who claimed to be private security guards en route from South Africa to central Africa to protect mines.

It emerged yesterday that the former SAS captain had hired new lawyers in an apparent effort to distance himself from his co-accused.

"We are no longer representing him, that I can confirm," said Francois Joubert, a lawyer who will continue to represent the other 69 detainees.

Another of the original team, Alwyn Griebenow, told the South African Press Association that Mr Mann had broken with them over their attempt to force Pretoria to seek the defendants' extradition from Zimbabwe. "I have no proof," he said. "But I was told that Mann's legal team did not want to go ahead with the constitutional court case against the South African government." Mr Mann's team could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr Mann bought weapons and equipment from Zimbabwe Defence Industries, a state-run company with a history of shadowy dealings.

If it emerged in court that senior government officials had helped the plotters, it would sour Zimbabwe's propaganda triumph in foiling an alleged coup and upholding African solidarity. - guardian.co.uk

The U.S. Troops have now confirmed "competitors": Private Miltary Contractors. British Company Erinys, is yet another company, who employed 10.000 Iraqis, to protect the oil pipelines.

Erinys is in reality bankrolled at its inception by Nour USA Ltd., which was incorporated in the United States last May. A Nour's founder was Ahmed Chalabi friend and business associate, Abul Huda Farouki. Within days of the award last August, Nour became a joint venture partner with Erinys and the contract was amended to include Nour.

Newsday wrote, that another founding partner and director of Erinys Iraq is Faisal Daghistani, the son of Tamara Daghistani, for years one of Chalabi's most trusted confidants. She was a key player in the creation of his exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, which received millions of dollars in U.S. funds to help destabilize the Saddam Hussein regime before the coalition invasion last year.

The firm's counsel in Baghdad is Chalabi's nephew Salem Chalabi. Erinys recently also awarded a $10-million contract for helicopter surveillance of the pipelines to Florida-based AirScan Inc. Airscan also protects African oil fields.

AirScan, run by Walter Holloway, was formed in 1984 by former U.S. air commandos, the Air Force version of Special Forces. Its first and longest lasting contract has been to provide airborne surveillance security for U.S. Air Force launches at Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. AirScan also has contracts in the war zones of Colombia and Angola, where it guards oil pipelines for U.S. companies, and is part of the U.S. anti-drug operation, Plan Colombia.

One of AirScan's fleet of Cessna 337s was lost in undisclosed circumstances in Angola in July 2001, while conducting a nighttime surveillance mission in the Cabinda enclave. The company admitted the loss of the aircraft to the Voice of America. - Ewing 2001

Corpwatch article: Guarding the Oil Underworld in Iraq



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