Dear Mitchel and all,
we now know that Che was executed with the CIA's approval. We can
refer to facts that were found and to evidence.
But in the kidnap case, you shot from the hip. That did not give me any
info and it turned off others. We all shared your insight but could not
show to others that it was right. Until Naomi did her journalistic
You had used such a shouting tone that we could not help you out. Only
someone like Naomi could and did. You should have waited a little, or
merely hinted at a possibility. Many people on this list have had
indeed "decades of education at elite universities, and most likely
because of it," have had to keep their cool to struggle against the
beast from where they were and have some effect. I do not agree that
these people (me too, although I stepped out of the university world)
"are unable to read through the lines and understand what is really
happening in this world and who is behind the horror". We all can read
behind the surface of daily events in general; but generalities do not
help understand complex situations and precision investigative work is
needed, always. You can't substitute that with rhetoric and expect
Be brotherly, be humble.
I too signed the petition;
Rua Pau de Canela 1001
Tel: 55 48 237 3140
On Sep 16, 2004, at 12:05 PM, Mitchel Cohen wrote:
Last Friday, Sept. 10, I sent around a Petition for the Italian anti-war
activists kidnapped in Iraq. I wrote that the kidnappers were "most
in the pay of the CIA, and at the very least are doing the work of the
government by kidnappings and executions directed against civilian
I received two comments from ostensibly radical professors who
my comments for being inaccurate and harmful to the cause. They focused
blame on Moslem extremists.
Below, I reprint an investigatory article from today's British
newspaper by Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill which buttresses the claim I
made, with specific evidence, such as: "The attackers were armed with
AK-47s, shotguns, pistols with silencers and stun guns -- hardly the
mujahideen's standard-issue rusty Kalashnikovs. Strangest of all is this
detail: witnesses said that several attackers wore Iraqi National Guard
uniforms and identified themselves as working for Ayad Allawi, the
There's lots more.
Just about every Islamic group, including the leaders of the resistance
Iraq, have condemned this kidnapping of the leaders of the Italian
movement and their fellow workers.
I am amazed that some folks, despite their decades of education at elite
universities, or most likely because of it, are unable to read through
lines and understand what is really happening in this world and who is
behind the horror.
Thank you Naomi Klein. Thank you Jeremy Scahill. And most of all,
FREE SIMONA TORRETTA, SIMONA PARI, RAAD ALI ABDUL AZZIZ and MAHNOUZ
- Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens/Green Party of NY
Who seized Simona Torretta?
This Iraqi kidnapping has the mark of an undercover police operation
Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill
Thursday September 16, 2004
When Simona Torretta returned to Baghdad in March 2003, in the midst of
"shock and awe" aerial bombardment, her Iraqi friends greeted her by
telling her she was nuts. "They were just so surprised to see me. They
said, 'Why are you coming here? Go back to Italy. Are you crazy?'"
But Torretta didn't go back. She stayed throughout the invasion,
the humanitarian work she began in 1996, when she first visited Iraq
her anti-sanctions NGO, A Bridge to Baghdad. When Baghdad fell, Torretta
again opted to stay, this time to bring medicine and water to Iraqis
suffering under occupation. Even after resistance fighters began
foreigners, and most foreign journalists and aid workers fled, Torretta
again returned. "I cannot stay in Italy," the 29-year-old told a
Today, Torretta's life is in danger, along with the lives of her fellow
Italian aid worker Simona Pari, and their Iraqi colleagues Raad Ali
Azziz and Mahnouz Bassam. Eight days ago, the four were snatched at
gunpoint from their home/office in Baghdad and have not been heard from
since. In the absence of direct communication from their abductors,
political controversy swirls round the incident. Proponents of the war
using it to paint peaceniks as naive, blithely supporting a resistance
answers international solidarity with kidnappings and beheadings.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Islamic leaders are hinting that the
A Bridge to Baghdad was not the work of mujahideen, but of foreign
intelligence agencies out to discredit the resistance.
Nothing about this kidnapping fits the pattern of other abductions. Most
are opportunistic attacks on treacherous stretches of road. Torretta and
her colleagues were coldly hunted down in their home. And while
in Iraq scrupulously hide their identities, making sure to wrap their
in scarves, these kidnappers were bare-faced and clean-shaven, some in
business suits. One assailant was addressed by the others as "sir".
Kidnap victims have overwhelmingly been men, yet three of these four are
women. Witnesses say the gunmen questioned staff in the building until
Simonas were identified by name, and that Mahnouz Bassam, an Iraqi
was dragged screaming by her headscarf, a shocking religious
for an attack supposedly carried out in the name of Islam.
Most extraordinary was the size of the operation: rather than the usual
three or four fighters, 20 armed men pulled up to the house in broad
daylight, seemingly unconcerned about being caught. Only blocks from the
heavily patrolled Green Zone, the whole operation went off with no
interference from Iraqi police or US military - although Newsweek
that "about 15 minutes afterwards, an American Humvee convoy passed
a block away".
And then there were the weapons. The attackers were armed with AK-47s,
shotguns, pistols with silencers and stun guns - hardly the mujahideen's
standard-issue rusty Kalashnikovs. Strangest of all is this detail:
witnesses said that several attackers wore Iraqi National Guard uniforms
and identified themselves as working for Ayad Allawi, the interim prime
An Iraqi government spokesperson denied that Allawi's office was
But Sabah Kadhim, a spokesperson for the interior ministry, conceded
the kidnappers "were wearing military uniforms and flak jackets". So was
this a kidnapping by the resistance or a covert police operation? Or
something worse: a revival of Saddam's mukhabarat disappearances, when
agents would arrest enemies of the regime, never to be heard from again?
Who could have pulled off such a coordinated operation - and who stands
benefit from an attack on this anti-war NGO?
On Monday, the Italian press began reporting on one possible answer.
Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, from Iraq's leading Sunni cleric organisation,
reporters in Baghdad that he received a visit from Torretta and Pari the
day before the kidnap. "They were scared," the cleric said. "They told
that someone threatened them." Asked who was behind the threats,
replied: "We suspect some foreign intelligence."
Blaming unpopular resistance attacks on CIA or Mossad conspiracies is
chatter in Baghdad, but coming from Kubaisi, the claim carries unusual
weight; he has ties with a range of resistance groups and has brokered
release of several hostages. Kubaisi's allegations have been widely
reported in Arab media, as well as in Italy, but have been absent from
Western journalists are loath to talk about spies for fear of being
labelled conspiracy theorists. But spies and covert operations are not a
conspiracy in Iraq; they are a daily reality. According to CIA deputy
director James L Pavitt, "Baghdad is home to the largest CIA station
the Vietnam war", with 500 to 600 agents on the ground. Allawi himself
lifelong spook who has worked with MI6, the CIA and the mukhabarat,
specialising in removing enemies of the regime.
A Bridge to Baghdad has been unapologetic in its opposition to the
occupation regime. During the siege of Falluja in April, it coordinated
risky humanitarian missions. US forces had sealed the road to Falluja
banished the press as they prepared to punish the entire city for the
gruesome killings of four Blackwater mercenaries. In August, when US
marines laid siege to Najaf, A Bridge to Baghdad again went where the
occupation forces wanted no witnesses. And the day before their
Torretta and Pari told Kubaisi that they were planning yet another
high-risk mission to Falluja.
In the eight days since their abduction, pleas for their release have
crossed all geographical, religious and cultural lines. The Palestinian
group Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, the International Association of Islamic
Scholars and several Iraqi resistance groups have all voiced outrage. A
resistance group in Falluja said the kidnap suggests collaboration with
foreign forces. Yet some voices are conspicuous by their absence: the
House and the office of Allawi. Neither has said a word.
What we do know is this: if this hostage-taking ends in bloodshed,
Washington, Rome and their Iraqi surrogates will be quick to use the
tragedy to justify the brutal occupation - an occupation that Simona
Torretta, Simona Pari, Raad Ali Abdul Azziz and Mahnouz Bassam risked
lives to oppose. And we will be left wondering whether that was the plan
· Jeremy Scahill is a reporter for the independent US radio/TV show
Democracy Now; Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo and Fences and
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