American Journalist Steven Vincent Murdered in Iraq

Steven Vincent, a freelance journalist who had been critical of the Shiite clerics in Iraq, was kidnapped and shot dead near Basra.

American journalist found shot dead in Basra (Reuters)

An American journalist and author has been found shot dead in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a Western diplomat said on Wednesday. The diplomat told Reuters the next of kin of Steven Vincent had been notified and an investigation was underway to determine who was behind the death. The diplomat said he believed Vincent’s body was found on Tuesday.

Vincent was the author of a book on postwar Iraq and was researching another book about the history of Basra, where British troops are based. An opinion piece he wrote criticising the rise of Shi’ite Islamist fundamentalism in Basra was published in The New York Times four days ago.

US journalist shot dead in Iraq (BBC)

Photo: Steven Vincent American Journalist killed in Iraq A US freelance reporter, Steven Vincent, has been shot dead by unknown gunmen in Basra, southern Iraq, police have said. Mr Vincent was abducted with his female Iraqi translator at gun point by men in a police car on Tuesday. His bullet-riddled body was found on the side of a highway south of the city a few hours later. He had been writing a book about the city, where insurgents have recently stepped up their attacks.

The pair were kidnapped by five gunmen in a police car as they left a currency exchange shop, Lt Col Karim al-Zaidi said. “Both were later shot, but Vincent was killed, while the girl [translator] is alive,” said Mr Zaidi. Mr Vincent was shot several times in the head and body, said Mr Zaidi. The translator, Nour Weidi, was seriously wounded.

[…]

Mr Vincent had been in Basra in recent months working for the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times. In a recent New York Times article, Mr Vincent wrote that Basra’s police force had been infiltrated by Shia militants. He quoted a senior Iraqi police lieutenant saying some officers were behind many of the killings of former Baath party members in Basra. Mr Vincent also criticised the UK forces, who are responsible for security in Basra, for ignoring abuses of power by Shia extremists.

American journalist found shot dead in Basra РSteven Vincent had been critical of Islamic radicalism̢۪s rise in southern Iraq (MSNBC РAP)

[….] Police said Vincent, a Web blogger who had been living in New York, had been staying in Basra for several months working on a book.

In an opinion column printed in The New York Times on July 31, Vincent wrote that Basra’s police force had been heavily infiltrated by members of Shiite political groups, including those loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Vincent quoted an unidentified Iraqi police lieutenant as saying that some police were behind many of the assassinations of former Baath Party members that have taken place in Basra. “He told me that there is even a sort of “death car” — a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment,” he wrote.

Journalists in a war zone risk death or injury. That’s an accepted part of the job. Army Times reporter Matthew Cox was wounded by a roadside suicide bomber Monday, although he was thankfully only received minor injuries. More than 60 have been killed since the war started, with Michael Kelly and David Bloom perhaps the most famous.

Vincent’s case is an altogether different matter, though. He was not collateral damage in a firefight but rather a targetted victim. That makes his death an outrage in addition to a tragedy.

Switched Off in Basra,” [RSS] is the NYT piece referred to in the articles above.

Reactions from his fellow bloggers:

    Arthur Chrenkoff knew Steven, having interviewed and corresponded with him.
    Michelle Malkin had written about him several times.
    Lorie Byrd loved “In the Red Zone.”
    Juan Cole is not sure that Vincent was targetted, noting Iraq is unsafe for any American.
    Tbogg uses the opportunity to take potshots at war supporters.

Update:

    Jim Henley has a potshot-free eulogy.
    Mark Tapscott believes Vincent “should be honored along with all other journalists who have died while on the beat.”
    Brad Delong is also potshot-free, calling Vincent “one of the best journalists in Iraq.”

Elsewhere:

American Journalist Is Shot to Death in Iraq (NYT RSS)

Basra blogger is abducted and murdered (Times of London)

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve M. says:

    Tbogg uses the opportunity to take potshots at war supporters.

    WAAAAAHHH! Mommy! Bad man hurt my feewings! WAAAAAHHH!

  2. Wh says:

    He published an article on the Basra fundamentalists on Sunday in the NYTimes. At that time I thought his statements were overblown and exaggerated.

    3 days later, he’s dead. I don’t believe in coincidence on this scale. I suspect Shia militas who were upset with his article. And Juan Cole is wrong, Basra has been relatively peaceful, so its not really that dangerous for Americans.

    Look for the Basra police to “arrest the usual suspects”.

  3. Lurking Observer says:

    thunderbird:

    Let’s remember that Danny Pearl was also a journalist, which didn’t keep the terrorists from sawing his head off.

    And Michael Kelly was a journalist, who died when his HMMWV went off the road.

    In fact, it’s almost enough to make one wonder just who is targeting journalists. I suspect that Linda Foley was right, in the sense that someone is specifically targeting journalists, and wrong, in the sense that it is not the US military but our enemies that are doing so.