Gloomy report from a reporter in Baghdad-Truth!
Email From a Wall Street Journal Reporter in Baghdad-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:A long email from Baghdad said to be from Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi with views critical of the U.S. handling of the War in Iraq.
The Truth:Fassihi is the Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and confirms that she wrote the email, but told EDITOR AND PUBLISHER it was meant to be for her friends only and not distributed beyond that.
Last updated 10/13/04
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:
Subject: FW: From Baghdad
Advance warning… this is an incredibly powerful email from a Wall
Street Journal reporter in Baghdad.
it’s not explicit or gory or anything, just terrifying and profoundly
It’s worth reading. Feel free to pass it on to anyone you’d like.
From: “Farnaz Fassihi” <[email protected] <mailto:[email protected]
Subject: From Baghdad
Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under
virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this
chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away
lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a
Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those
reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and
scheduled interview. I avoid going to people s homes and never walk in
can t go grocery shopping any more, can t eat in restaurants, can t
a conversation with strangers, can t look for stories, can t drive in
thing but a full armored car, can t go to scenes of breaking news
be stuck in traffic, can t speak English outside, can t take a road
t say I m an American, can t linger at checkpoints, can t be curious
what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can t and can t .
There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near
house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern
every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make
our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel
It s hard to pinpoint when the turning point exactly began. Was it April
when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when
and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City,
to ten percent of Iraq s population, became a nightly battlefield for
Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated
pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President
Bush s rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was
threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to imminent and
threat, a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for
Iraqis like to call this mess the situation. When asked how are thing?
they reply: the situation is very bad.
What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn t
most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around
the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country
are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and
devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations,
kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging
barbaric guerilla war.
In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone.
The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health which was
exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers– has now
Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said
men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground.
a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt
put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is
booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a
landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid
Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as
convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was
to love America for liberating Iraq.
For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of
abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around
because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between
Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11
two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in broad daylight.
the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were
from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the
block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win
friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came out to
switch on the
generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods.
The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down.
any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated
day. The various elements within it baathists, criminals, nationalists
Qaeda are cooperating and coordinating.
I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the
and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate
would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it
determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you
and sell you
up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In
cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to
iminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road
Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether
is still alive.
America s last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National
units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being
murdered by the dozens every day over 700 to date– and the insurgents
infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S.
$6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid
As for reconstruction: firstly it s so unsafe for foreigners to operate
that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the
billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1
billion or so
has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving
sign of just how bad things are going here.
Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of
and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel.
Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because
Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?
Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for
insecurity. Guess what? They say they d take security over freedom any
even if it means having a dictator ruler.
I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed
run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly
Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about
elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the
He said, President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would
an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about
model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost.
One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of
on the ground it s hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it
its violent downward spiral.
The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this
country as a result of American mistakes and it can t be put back into a
The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months
while half of the country remains a no go zone out of the hands of the
and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half,
disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations.
The Sunnis have already said they d boycott elections, leaving the stage
open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be
legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.
I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in
the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some
elect a leadership. His response summed it all: Go and vote and risk
blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for
the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?