Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Margaret Hassan

The family of Margaret Hassan, the murdered aid worker, have accused British diplomats of refusing to help them to confront alleged members of the Iraqi gang that kidnapped her.
The trial of two men, which starts tomorrow, almost certainly represents the family’s best chance of ending a four-year search for her remains. One of the accused was arrested after allegedly attempting to trade information about their location for cash and a safe haven in Britain.
Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi, also known as Abu Rasha, was arrested by US special forces and Iraqi police in August. He has been charged with inciting, planning or assisting terrorism. The family say that they have been shown evidence that proves that he was a member of the gang that kidnapped Margaret Hassan, held her captive for three weeks and then murdered her.

The above is from David Brown and Francis Elliott's "Plea to diplomats by family of Margaret Hassan, murdered aid worker" (Times of London). Margaret Hassan worked for CARE International and was married to Tahseen Ali Hassan. October 19, 2004, she was kidnapped with a video later emerging of her calling for British troops to withdraw from Iraq. November 16, 2004, CARE International issued the following statement:

It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the existence of a video in which it appears that our colleague Margaret Hassan has been killed.

We are shocked and appalled that this has been the apparent outcome of her abduction. We want to express our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Hassan’s husband Tahseen, and to her family. Mrs. Hassan was an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to the poor and disadvantaged in Iraq, particularly the children. The whole of CARE is in mourning.

Through her courage, tenacity and commitment, Mrs. Hassan assisted more than 17 million Iraqis living in the most difficult of circumstances. Everyone who met her was touched by her personality and compassion.

CARE staff and volunteers will continue working around the world fighting poverty, responding to humanitarian emergencies and helping to rebuild communities.

CARE sincerely thanks the Iraqi people for everything they did to try to secure the safe return of Margaret Hassan and for the many expressions of support.

Our priority now is to support Mrs. Hassan’s husband, Tahseen, and those most deeply affected by this tragedy.

CARE would later note, "In late 2004, the abduction and probable death of Margaret Hasssan, CARE's director in Iraq, shocked the world. In response to Mrs. Hassan's abduction, CARE closed its operations in Iraq." A profile on Hassan can be found here at BBC. A CNN report can be found here and, in November 2004, you could find coverage of her kidnapping and slaughter everywhere -- in big and small media. Hard to believe as the Times of London continues to be the only outlet that seems aware Hassan ever existed. (UPI filed a brief on Hassan last month based on a report by the Times of London.)

We noted Campbell Robertson and Suada al-Salhy's "Charges Dismissed in Iraq Against Ministry Detainees" in yesterday's snapshot -- the article posted early to the New York Times website yesterday and is in the paper today. We'll note this from it today:

The Interior Ministry has been a source of anxiety for the Maliki government for a number of reasons. It has a history of being associated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful Shiite party that is a rival to the Dawa party of the prime minister and that pushed for Mr. Bolani's candidacy for interior minister in 2006. Mr. Bolani also created his own party, the secular Iraqi Constitutional Party, though he said he relinquished his leadership position when he became the interior minister.

If it remains a slow Iraq news day, we may expand on the above in the snapshot today. The slowness is surpising especially when you consider that prior to the weekend, the number of US service members stood at 2 for the entire month and weekend deaths brought it to six. Ernesto Londono covers the release of the Ministry of the Interior workers for the Washington Post and observes, "The statement said the men had been accused of making fake badges to be used by insurgents to attack a ministry building. It said an investigative committee had determined that the allegations were unfounded."

While the Ministry of the Interior continues to garner bad publicity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues their diplomatic work:

22 December, 2008

Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Multilateral Relations Meets Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister

Undersecretary for legal affairs and multilateral relations, Dr. Muhammed Haj Hmoud met on 21.Dec.2008 with Mrs. Ishizaki Seiko Deputy Foreign Minister of Japan with the accompanying delegation who visited Iraq for the period 21-22 Dec. 2008.

Dr. Haj Hmoud praised the efforts of the Japanese Government in supporting the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people during its participation in the multinational forces in Iraq, and Japan's support for the political process and national reconciliation in Iraq and the implementation of vital projects for Iraqi People.

Dr.Haj Hmoud called on activating the joint commission between the two countries pointing out to building the strategic partnership which gained big attention from the Iraqi Government and a common concern for both countries. The Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister stated that the termination of the Japanese forces in Iraq will not end the cooperation between the two countries but will open broad prospects between the two countries pointing that her country took further steps to develop relations between the two countries.

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