Who Killed Margaret Hassan?
by : Yamin Zakaria
Thursday November 18, 2004 - 06:03
“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state” (Noam Chomsky)
by Yamin Zakaria
There are truths; there are lies; there is then the middle ground of half-truths: propaganda. Those who engage in its dissemination are malicious criminals. And those who are subjected to it are the victims. Propaganda is consumed innocently, like drinking a glass of milk that has been contaminated with small drops of urine; the taste, color, odor of the milk is sustained, so the victims remain unaware. However, the perception changes once the consumer is alerted to the fact that urine was added to it. The consumer is disgusted as milk diluted with urine is the same as pure urine; not fit for consumption; they are both in the same category of lies!
Those who control the modern day propaganda tools of the mass media outlets can effectively manipulate the thoughts and opinions of the masses by feeding propaganda with drastic consequences. It was the American newspaper magnet, William Hearst the Rupert Murdoch of his time, infamously used the power of his press to influence American opinion in favor of war. Using fabricated stories, inflammatory language, frenzied emotion was generated against Spain; those behind the scene had an eye on the Spanish colonies. Ultimately war was initiated in 1898 after the accidental sinking of the battleship Maine.
The newspapers wasted no time, it was the WMD of its day, and Spain had to prove a negative, that it did not sink the ship. Furthermore, the oppressed Spanish colonial subjects were in need of liberation and Philippine was one of the colonies captured from Spain. Many paid the price for the beginning of American imperial expansion, including the 500000 or more Philippinos that in turn fought for independence from the US. The country has since been used as a brothel by the US soldiers, the supposed flag bearers of women’s rights; this was one of the reasons stated by the US leadership when it attacked Afghanistan.
The art and sophistication of propaganda has certainly has grown with technology. Selective focusing on certain news from certain angles, repeated insinuations, being silent on certain pertinent facts, spin-doctoring are all the basic tools of propaganda in modern times. This is coming from a layperson’s observation not a media specialist. As an example, how many people still believe Saddam’s mass graves of millions when only around 5,000 bodies have been uncovered so far? The subsequent report never got the same level of amplification or frequency in terms of media coverage as the prewar hype.
One can get passed the mesmerizing effect of the media by posing simple questions, questions that has simply been left out. Margaret Hassan is now believed to be the first woman killed by kidnappers but nobody is asking who and why, given that the Iraqi resistance has denied any role in her captivity from the onset. In fact, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi’s group issued a statement that they don’t hold women prisoners unless they are proven to be belligerent enemies and they actually called for her release! Furthermore, no group has claimed responsibility, which is unprecedented in relation to previous cases of killing kidnapped hostages.
The two Italian women taken hostage were released earlier once it was verified that they were ‘genuinely’ innocent and the few other women were all released by the Mujahideen. This is because women have a special honor amongst the Mujahideen. For sure Abu-Ghraib style porn-torture would never take place with the Mujahideen. The liberated women would be far safer with the Mujahideen than the degenerate soldiers that are littered in the US forces; Abu-Ghraib was only a small snap-shot of the reality!
Since money was not demanded, one can rule out the criminal elements. The captors did not use the same flags and the usual style in the video given the description given so far. Margaret was virtually like a native Iraqi in almost every sense. It could be argued that she was even an Iraqi patriot when you put her next to the likes of A. Chalabi and the other criminal-vultures that encouraged the slaughtering of the Iraqis using the pretext of Saddam, with the inner motivation of personal gains that is so clear now.
Another important question is the timing of the release of the video itself. It is too much of a coincidence for it to have been released when the world’s eyes were focused on the atrocities committed by the US forces in Fallujah. Conversely, if this was the work of the Iraqi resistance how does it benefit their cause to release the video now and especially when Margaret already had wide support amongst the Iraqis? Furthermore, she was perhaps more Irish and Iraqi than British.
This release of this video and again ‘coincidentally’ the release of footage of US soldiers killing a wounded, defenseless Iraqis inside a mosque in Fallujah are a perfect means to divert attention from the American savagery; massacring the civilians in Fallujah. Its broadcast was deliberate, in order to counter criticism and restore confidence in the unruly image of the US marines by showing that they do have codes of conduct and they will investigate and discipline their soldiers. This is like a PR exercise after Abu-Ghraib and diverts the attention from the real crime in Fallujah itself.
As always the accusations of conspiracy theory will surface, as a means to dismiss the arguments without actually addressing it. Many a times in history, conspiracy theories of the time proved to be subsequently correct. Similar accusations of conspiracy theory were made when I learnt of the Abu-Ghraib tortures through a well-known website (http://www.jihadunspun.net) before Seymour Hirsh revealed the information through the mainstream media. The website actually receives information directly from the people who are closely operating with the Iraqi resistance and the Mujahideen in Iraq.
According to their sources the kidnapping was concocted by British agents inside the country, in an effort to divert attention away from the British troop deployment into Latifiyah and for what was to come in Fallujah.
Now, the rabid xenophobic anti-Islamic-fanatics in the media can continue to raise the passion of its largely docile and memorized masses. This paves the way for more killing of Iraqi civilians; flattening more Iraqi towns; torture and execution of more Iraqi prisoners; all this is fine because the ‘civilized’ world is trying to fight these irrational criminals using the most uncivilized methods!
For those who are already have a pro-war streak in them, usually sitting in the right of the political spectrum, they are not looking for hard facts but something that they can clutch onto. As their mind has largely been mind up, all they need something to convince themselves. For those people propaganda is a deliberate self-deception exercise as expressed by the words of an American writer:
“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves." (Eric Hoffer - 1902-1983)
Even if Margaret is found to be alive the timing of the release of the video was a counter-insurgency operation. It only served to discredit the Iraqi resistance at a time when they needed support. If she is found to be dead it has only provided maximum benefit to the criminal and murderous regime of Blair and Bush.
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