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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The story of an italian called Giuliana Sgrena

So, here is my take on the story of the italian journalist hostage Giuliana Sgrena. You may agree with it, you may disagree with it, but that's up to you. As for me, after reading the different accounts of the story, i have come up with what most of you may view as an extreme conclusion: She should've died! I will tell you why i think so, but let me give you a little background on her story first: Giuliana is a reporter for an Italian newspaper called Il Manifesto, which happens to be a communist newspaper that opposed the War in Iraq to begin with and viewed the insurgants as freedom fighters againts the evil US occupiers. Giuliana was one of the newspapers top voices calling against the iraq war and Italy's participation in it. Then one day, when she was in Iraq, she apparently gets "kidnapped", after which the insurgents released an emotional videotape where she pleads for her life and asks that her country withdraws its troops from Iraq. She said and i quote:"I beg you, put an end to the occupation. I beg the Italian government and the Italian people to put pressure on the government to pull out. Everyone must withdraw from Iraq. No one should come to Iraq any longer because all foreigners, all Italians are considered enemies. Please do something for me. " Now, me personally, when i first heard this tory a month ago, ehh, i have to be honest, i kinda laughed, while being kinda skeptic about the whole thing. On one hand, i thought it was kinda funny and ironic that the same people she champions and whom she calls heros are the ones who kidnapped her and threatening to kill her. If that happend to me, i believe it would be kind of an eye-opener that they don't really differnetiate between westerners who are on their side and those who aren't: They want them all dead. I dunno about you, but if it was me, i would be not very supportive of those people thretaning to kill me, would you? Which leads us to the part of which i am skecptic: What if it was all a ploy or a publicity stunt? I mean it's a little too convenient don't you think?Having her kidnapped and the kind of appeal she made, it's the kind of thing that would cause people to get emotionally charged about things. What if it was a stunt to get the italian street to oppose the war? I figured that there was only one way to find out: If it was a stunt, then she wouldn't get killed. Guess what? They released her. Th italians apprently sent one of their intelligence agents to negotiate getting her out, and apprently they succeded to do so without paying a ransom. After getting her in the car, the agent apprently sped off to the heavily US guarded airport, where The US soldiers, apparenetly mistaking it for a suicide bomber, opend fire on the vehicle. Capilari, the italian intellgence officer, died protecting the body of Guiliana, who survived the rain of bullets. Now, according to the Italian foreign minister, the whole thing was an unfortunate accident. Here is how he described the events that happend: "The car was traveling at a velocity that couldn't have been more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour," Fini said, adding there were no attempts to stop the car as indicated by the U.S. military. Immediately after the fatal shooting, U.S. soldiers apologized profusely to Sgrena and an unnamed intelligence officer who survived the gunfire, Fini said. He said Calipari, an experienced officer who had negotiated the release of other hostages in Iraq in the past, "made all the necessary contacts with the U.S. authorities," both with those in charge of airport security and with the forces patrolling areas next to the airport. Now, according to the US military, that is not exactly how it went down: An internal Pentagon memo said Italian security forces failed to make arrangement for the safe passage of a released Italian hostage who was wounded when US troops opened fire as she was being driven to the airport in Baghdad, a US newspaper reported. The US military has said its forces gave ample warning to the driver of Sgrena's car, which they said was approaching at speed when they opened fire. The internal Pentagon information memo obtained by The Washington Times mentioned the dangerous conditions of the road Sregna was traveling on, where it says mistaken shootings have resulted in a "few deadly incidents" since March 2003. However, it blames the Italians for Friday's incident. "This is war," said the memo as transcribed by the daily. "About 500 American service members have been killed by hostile fire while operating on Iraqi streets and highways. "The journalist was driving in pitch-dark and at a high speed and failed, according to the first reports, to respond to numerous warnings. "Besides, there is no indication that the Italian security forces made prior arrangements to facilitate the transition to the airport," the memo said. Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and military analyst consulted by The Washington Times, said the Italians should have given serious attention to their moves about Iraq. "It seems to me that the Italian secret service considers this a James Bond movie in Baghdad," Maginnis said. "They're driving around at night picking up a journalist who has been kidnapped and pretending they can get through a phalanx of checkpoints along the deadliest road in all of Iraq without being detected, much less shot up." Guiliana , of course, came up with her own theory: The American soldiers were trying to assassinate her. Apparently, according to her account, the kidnappers- again, note the word kidnappers- were nice and were cheering her up about her getting released. And then they proceeded to warn her about how the US military will try to kill her: They came back: "We'll take you and don't give any signals of your presence with us otherwise the Americans could intervene." It was confirmation that I didn't want to hear; it was altogether the most happy and most dangerous moment. If we bumped into someone, meaning American military, there would have been an exchange of fire. My captors were ready and would have answered. The driver started yelling that we were Italians. "We are Italians, we are Italians." Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain. I didn't know why. But then I realized my mind went immediately to the things the captors had told me. They declared that they were committed to the fullest to freeing me but I had to be careful, "the Americans don't want you to go back." Then when they had told me I considered those words superfluous and ideological. At that moment they risked acquiring the flavor of the bitterest of truths, at this time I cannot tell you the rest. Now, who can guess who else is spreading that story besides Guiliana? You got it right, the terrorists: In Baghdad, a video purportedly made by the insurgents who kidnapped Sgrena claimed the group did not receive any ransom for her release. The tape showed footage of Sgrena shortly before she was freed, and the claim was made by a man off-camera reading a statement. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the tape, which was dropped off anonymously at the offices of Associated Press Television News in Baghdad. The voice on the tape said Sgrena was released with no ransom "even though we were offered that." It added that "the resistance refuses (to be paid). We hope that all journalists around the world would be released." It's kinda weird since you are the ones kidnapping them. But whatever, go on. A written statement shown on screen and read by the man off-camera alleged that U.S. forces deliberately targeted Sgrena. "America has cheated its close ally Italy by attempting to assassinate the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena," the statement said. "The resistance has learned from its private sources in the heart of America that the CIA decided to kill the journalist." Now, here is where i get confused about this theory of hers. So the US soldiers wanted to kill her. They opend fire on the car attempting to assassinate her and in turn killed the italian agent. Now, can someone explain to me why they didn't finish the job? I mean, they had already opend fire. They were a outnumbering the italian agents and they had already stoped the car. Why not finish the job? Why didn't they just kill her if that was their intention to begin with and then declare the whole thing as an accident? What stopped them? If they are such killers why did they stop shooting immedietly and started apologizing to Guiliana and the other italian officer in the car? Can someone explain that to me? Look, the woman is an idealogue and a liar. My own theory is that she is working with the insurgency, that the whole thing was a stunt and that the shooting was a horrible mistake that she is now exploiting to her fullest advantage. The woman was biased to begin with. She spoke highly of those who kidnapped her for a month and yet called the ones that arranged her to get transported home "Killers" who tried to assassinate her.I am sorry, but in my book that gives her less credibility then that of Jayson Blair. And the sad thing is that she is exploiting the whole thing to cause a rift between Italy and the US and it just might work. Now do you get why i think she should've died? I feel bad for the family of the italian officer who died saving that woman's life. I also feel bad for the soldiers there who opend fire by mistake on an unidnetified car coming their way in one of Iraq's most dangerous roads, cause they might get scapegoated and are now getting their reputation tarnished as killers and assassins of journalists, cause honestly, they have to deal with enough shit as it is. I don't feel one ounce of pity towards Guiliana though, and i hope that the italian people are smart enough to figure out that she is full of shit. I hope!


At 3/08/2005 10:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, this murder sympathizer said a tank shot them up. Now, look , if they's had a 120 MM light them up, this story would be over already. Hell even a 25MM or .50 would have taken the car and its occupants to pieces. The more this tramp runs her head, the more it sounds like Moron.Org fertilizer.


At 3/08/2005 01:38:00 PM, Blogger Lisa, New York said...

Hey, Sam-

Did you see the pictures published on an Italian newspaper's site of the car that Giuliana Sgrena claims was hit by a "rain of fire", 300 to 400 bullets from a U.S. armoured vehicle??

Go hereIt looks better than MY car!!

At 3/08/2005 01:47:00 PM, Blogger Lisa, New York said...

Also there is a good, reasonable editorial (translated into English) from an Italian newspaper here.

At 3/08/2005 03:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe your version of this story is probably very close to what happened. The question remains as to how much damage the witch and her accomplices will be able to do to US reputation, and Italian/American relations.
Remeber the communists are the ones behind all the anti war demos worldwide.
Christina, Montana, USA

At 3/08/2005 04:44:00 PM, Blogger Kender said...

I think if the US govrernment finds information proving the she collaborated with theinsurgents then she should be charged as an accomplice, consided a spy and the Italian government should arrest here for causing the death of one of its' agants.

At 3/08/2005 04:58:00 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Right on, Sandmonkey. You're da man!!

At 3/08/2005 06:44:00 PM, Anonymous Highlander said...

Sandmonkey,there is a big problem with regards to Hizbollah. From the point of view your are basing your argument, yes Hizbollah would be in big trouble and I agree with your analysis especially now that Hizbollah is 'persona non grata' by the US administration. I was discussing this with a Lebanese friend of mine and he says that the larger number of Muslims in Lebanon is Shia ( aka they favour Hizbollah) although Lebanon has a lot of Sunni too. He was telling me that unless somebody makes a stupid move then he hopes the Lebanese will NOT start killing each other as they've learned their lesson. The problem sandmonkey is that Jumblatt the supposed 'opposition' leader is not a brilliant choice, he is a well known war criminal by his peers and only some time ago he was publicly boasting about his glee when every US soldier dies in Iraq . He is not a reliable fellow and has not given up pushing his personal agenda, jumping on the democracy bandwagon is ok with him even if he has to 'lick' his own horrible words towards Israel and the US. Michael Own the other warlord is no better.The Lebanese are quite bright people I just hope they stop not caring and start choosing real leaders now that 'maybe' they have a chance. They always had some semblance of democracy so at least they could start from there.

With regards to Bashar,that's another story, I think if he could somehow just reach out to the Syrian people they would back him up in the same way that they accepted him after his dad died {not to have chaos). Then with their help he could neutralise the thugs in his entourage ( even if that meant blood spilling, Syrian are prepared to do that ) and if he wants to go on being a doctor he can just leave the seat and give it to somebody more politically inclined. If it was up to me I would let his female minister (can't recall her name now - Shaban ?) run the show , she would do a fine president, she was his dad's translator before and is very very well polished along with looking good on camera ;). If I could I would vote for her. If you are interested I will find out her name and post it here.

As for bringing busloads of people from Syria to 'fill' the demonstration: well 1000 , 2000 even 3000 you may be able to ferry them all, but 500, 0000 not likely sandmonkey , have you seen the transport system in syria? have you seen the army vehicles how they are ? remnants of battered thingy's from the 70s, just the traffic jam on the border and from the road to Beirut and accross the mountains and to the city centre would cripple Lebanon, if you've been there you must be familiar with the horrendous traffic sandmonkey. Also Syria could never requisition enough cars to bring all these people. I'm sure you've read the article you linked to in full and found out that 'perhaps' there was one lone car on the Aley road. The majority of the demonstrators were Lebanese- Shia and Nasrallah is a very charismatic Leader; in a fair democratic election he would win actually, but he is more powerful this way on the fringes of the political system...but that is another story:)

At 3/08/2005 06:51:00 PM, Anonymous Highlander said...

oops sorry I meant to post the previous reply on your "Who controls Syria" article.
Anyway with regards to your theory about Sgrena..hmm maybe you're right however the Iraqi 'terrorists' have a previous history of kidnapping people who are on their side viz. Margaret Hassan, remmember her ? She has done a lot of good for the Iraqis.
This whole thing is getting more confusing each day.

At 3/09/2005 05:13:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Margaret Hassan was killed. Sgrena and the Simonas were released. That's the curious part.

At 3/09/2005 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Kat said...

You know what's missing?

How many times was Nicola Capirali shot? If I remember the first reports (that I don't see details on now), he died from one shot to the head. Which, if this was a shooting in the US or someplace with proper investigative abilities, someone would have taken pictures of where his body was and the bullet holes in the car and then matched the trajectory.

For instance, I note by the pictures that the front windshield has some damage and the driver's side window is shot out along with the driver's side door.

If he was protecting her with his body, which side of the head received the wound?

If they were approaching the checkpoint head on, how did the side window get shot out? I'll tell you that the soldiers were most likely in a three sided |_| check point configuration. The front side opens fire into the car hood (that is their usual MO to stop the cars; they aren't necessarily looking to kill anyone straight off as the "warning shots" are usually fired in front of or in the front of the car to disable the engine). Several of the bullets ricochet from the engine or hood compartment, losing momentum and thus unable to break the safety glass that most cars have today on the front shield(this is true for your basic car, even without specially treated windows for security). You can see by the pictures that there are "impact areas" but they don't look like they go through and through (which, by the one in the first picture looks like it would have killed the driver or seriously wounded him in the chest)

As the car refuses to halt or, in a panic, decides that they are being attacked by someone (maybe they don't realize right away who is shooting), they decide to speed through it. And, just so everyone understands, security agents, secret service and even blackwater contractors, all go to school and take classes on evasive driving to avoid kidnap or ambush.

What they are taught to do in an ambush situation is to hit the gas and try to drive through it. Nobody has heard from the driver, but my gut instinct says he acted on gut instincts and hit the gas pedal, speeding up considerably. Add to this that I doubt seriously these folks were tooling along IED road in the sunni triangle after having just left freeing this hostage. Everyone would be cognizant that they could be followed and risking a second abduction.

At that point, the soldiers on checkpoint would have considered that the car was high risk and required direct and strong intervention.

During the original firing incident that had not resulted in any injuries, the agent most likely pushed Sgrena down to the floorboard. At the same time, the side elements of the checkpoint, noticing that the car is now suddenly speeding up, opens fire (see driver side window) to incapacitate or kill the driver. Most likely at an angle |\ as the car has yet to enter the three sided box. This would cause the bullets to enter at an angle through the driver's window, missing the driver and would be the bullets that would have struck Capirali in the head and sgrena in the shoulder. Although, I also hear that her wound was "shrapnel". Any guesses as to whether that "shrapnel" was a piece of bone from capirali or a piece of the car or a hunk of flying glass?

Because all of this is happening at once, including the driver speeding up to evade, pushing sgrena down on the floor, this would be over in less than 30 seconds. At some point, very quickly, someone would have realized they were at a checkpoint and started yelling they are italian (even these checkpoint guys don't speak italian, after a few months in Iraq, I be you they can tell the difference in accents and language) and firing stops pretty quickly. Again, 1 minute or less.

If there were 400 bullets, why did the driver not get injured or the other security agent in the front seat? If there were 400 bullets, how did the intelligence agent get shot once in the head and not at least 20 times if the ones in the front seat weren't injured at all?

Just my own little analysis into the fake and inaccurate story of targeted shootings of journalist.

I also agree, whomever said it, had they intended to kill her, she would be very dead right now and some captain would be explaining the story instead of her.

At 3/10/2005 03:51:00 PM, Blogger Louise said...

I have another great conspiracy theory for you, which could very well be true. There have been three Italian dames who evidently loved their captors and tried to urge their governments to quit the coalition, and they were all released. My conspiracy theory is that it was all a scam. No money actually changed hands, but the thing was set up so that the Italians would put pressure on their government to pull out of Iraq, just as a set up was put into effect on the eve of the Spanish election. It was also intended to drive a wedge between the USA and the Italian government by floating the notion that Italy paid a big ransom. Sounds like it could be the whole story, if you ask me.

As to why the car was shot at when going through the checkpoint, well, maybe the simplest explanation is the one to believe. Failure to communicate and failure to stop when they should have.

I hope the investigation points to the reality of the fringe left's collaboration with Islamist terrorists.

At 3/10/2005 05:28:00 PM, Anonymous Brian K said...

I believe the whole episode was a set-up from beginning to end.

Sgrenna and the intelligence officers were planning to be killed to embarrass the US government and military. Leftist journalists are as dedicated to their cause as any exploding jihadist. Bringing down the established authority is paramount even to life itself.

What's a little personal death compared to the death of the Great Satan (the ID changes from time to time.) The ego boost tat would bring to the dead leftist is beyond priceless occupying the realm of worthless as it does.

At 3/10/2005 05:28:00 PM, Anonymous Brian K said...

I believe the whole episode was a set-up from beginning to end.

Sgrenna and the intelligence officers were planning to be killed to embarrass the US government and military. Leftist journalists are as dedicated to their cause as any exploding jihadist. Bringing down the established authority is paramount even to life itself.

What's a little personal death compared to the death of the Great Satan (the ID changes from time to time.) The ego boost tat would bring to the dead leftist is beyond priceless occupying the realm of worthless as it does.

At 3/10/2005 05:30:00 PM, Anonymous Brian K said...

Brian K said...
I believe the whole episode was a set-up from beginning to end.

Sgrenna and the intelligence officers were planning to be killed to embarrass the US government and military. Leftist journalists are as dedicated to their cause as any exploding jihadist. Bringing down the established authority is paramount even to life itself.

What's a little personal death compared to the death of the Great Satan (the ID changes from time to time.) The ego boost tat would bring to the dead leftist is beyond priceless occupying the realm of worthless as it does.


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