Sorrowful news from Basra. “Basra’s police force had been heavily infiltrated by members of Shiite political groups, including those loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.” “American Journalist Found Dead in Iraq,” from AP, with thanks to Jerry Gordon:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – An American freelance journalist was found dead in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the U.S. Embassy said Wednesday.
Police said Steven Vincent had been shot multiple times after he and his Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint hours earlier.
“I can confirm to you that officials in Basra have recovered the body of journalist Steven Vincent,” said embassy spokesman Pete Mitchell. “The U.S. Embassy is working with British military and local Iraqi officials in Basra to determine who is responsible for the death of this journalist. Our condolences go out to the family.”
Iraqi police in Basra said Vincent was abducted along with his female translator at gunpoint Tuesday evening. The translator, Nour Weidi, was seriously wounded.
Vincent and the translator were seized Tuesday afternoon by five gunmen in a police car as they left a currency exchange shop, police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi said.
Vincent’s body was discovered on the side of the highway south of Basra later. He had been shot in the head and multiple times in the body, al-Zaidi said.
Police said Vincent, a writer who had been living in New York, had been staying in Basra for several months working on a book about the history of the city.
In an opinion column published July 31 in The New York Times, 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.
Vincent was also critical of the British military, which is responsible for security in Basra, for turning a blind eye to abuses of power by Shiite extremists in the city.