Video: Margaret Hassan Murdered

Aid worker Margaret Hassan believed dead after TV receives video of woman’s slaying (AP)

Margaret Hassan, a kidnapped aid worker who spent decades bringing food and medicine to Iraqis, was believed murdered after Al-Jazeera television said Tuesday it received a video showing a hooded militant shooting a blindfolded woman in the head. Hassan’s family in London said the longtime director of CARE in Iraq was likely the victim, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said analysis of the video showed Hassan has “probably been murdered, although we cannot conclude this with complete certainty.”

CARE said it was in mourning for the 59-year-old Briton, a veteran humanitarian worker known around the Mideast for her concern for Iraqis — particularly during the years of U.N. sanctions, whose effects on children she vocally denounced. “To kidnap and kill anyone is inexcusable,” Straw said. “But it is repugnant to commit such a crime against a woman who has spent most of her life working for the good of the people of Iraq.”

In an emotional appeal on Al-Jazeera, Hassan’s Iraqi husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, said he had heard of the video but did not know whether it was authentic. “I appeal to those who took my wife (to tell me) what they did with her. … I want my wife, dead or alive. If she is dead, please let me know of her whereabouts so I can bury her in peace,” he said, his voice choked with tears.

Hassan would be the first foreign female hostage killed in Iraq’s wave of kidnappings. More than 170 foreigners have been abducted this year, and at least 34 killed. One woman — a Polish-Iraqi citizen — remains captive.

The video shows a hooded militant firing a pistol into the head of a blindfolded woman wearing an orange jumpsuit, said Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout. The station received the tape a few days ago but had not been sure of its authenticity until recently, he said. “We invited British diplomatic officials to come and view it,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s now likely that the image depicts Mrs. Hassan.”
Ballout said the station would not air the video and would not broadcast any acts of killing, outside war. Al-Jazeera has been under pressure not to show videos of kidnapped foreigners.

Hassan was abducted in Baghdad on Oct. 19 on her way to work, the most prominent of more than 170 foreigners kidnapped in Iraq this year. Her captors issued a series of videos showing her weeping and pleading for Britons to act to save her. In one video, she fainted and a bucket of water was thrown on her to revive her.

In some ways, the murder of Hassan is even more appalling than the beheadings that came before. At least most of those people had some ostensible tie to the Coalition effort to democratize Iraq. Hassan was married to an Iraqi, was for all intents and purposes an Iraqi herself, and was almost certainly an opponent of the war. A truly dispicable act.

Rusty Shackleford, as usual, has a roundup of blog reactions and news coverage.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. lunacy says:

    According to the Turksh Press via QandO blog, a blond woman, delimbed and debowelled, was found recently in Falluja. She’s believed to be a Polish woman who has been missing.

    So, possible, Hassan is not the first foreign woman killed as the article you posted claims.

  2. Digger says:

    Those allegations aren’t yet proven, lunacy.

    But you are correct she is definitely blond and caucasian and therefore could possibly be the first. The one catch is that the Hassan tape could possibly be days old as theorized by some sources.

    Either way it’s an honor neither woman would have wanted I’m sure.

    As for James’ assertation that this is more of a travesty, maybe to the western world, but there have been more civilians killed that haven’t lived in Iraq as long as Hassan. Not to mention those who haven’t even been alive as long as she’s been there.

    Nevertheless I covered it in depth and I am deeply saddened by her death because I can relate more to her. She is like a grandmother and to see her be treated in such a way brings out more anger than the random casualty you hear of on the street. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.