Baghdad Mosques Still Standing

After the Associated Press ran a story of lurid atrocities in Iraq at Thanksgiving, including the destruction of four Baghdad mosques and six deaths by immolation, readers wanted to see confirmation. After all, the AP cited only one source, Captain Jamil Hussein, for the story, and other news agencies never mentioned the story at all. When some tried to confirm the story and could not, including the New York Times (which has reporters in Baghdad as well), bloggers started questioning the credibility of Jamil Hussein. The AP stopped using him as a credited source but stood behind the story, even when they could not show that the mosques had been destroyed. Later, we found out that “Jamil Hussein” was an unacknowledged pseudonym, which violated one of the AP’s own ethics rules, and that their single-sourced stories could just as well have been propaganda.
Eason Jordan offered to send Michelle Malkin and Curt from Flopping Aces to Iraq to check on the provenance of “Jamil Hussein” and the story the AP still insists is accurate. Michelle reports today in the New York Post that all five mosques are still standing, and looking none the worse for wear:

Several mosques did, in fact, come under attack by Mahdi Army forces. But the “destroyed” mosques all still stand. Iraqi and U.S. Army officials say that two of them received no fire damage whatsoever. Another, which we filmed, was abandoned and empty when it was attacked.
WE obtained summary reports and photos filed at the time by Iraqi and U.S. Army troops on the scene. They contain no corroborating evidence of Hussein’s claim that “Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene.”
One of the mosques identified by the AP, the Nidaa Alah mosque, had been abandoned and vacant at the time it was hit with small-arms fire, say Iraqi and U.S. Army officials. Two of its inside rooms were burned out by a lobbed firebomb, according to an Army report.
Three other mosques in the area – the al Muhaymin, al Mushahiba and Ahbab Mustafa mosques – sustained small-arms fire damage to their exteriors; the Mustafa mosque also had two rooms burned out by a firebomb.
Contrary to Hussein and the AP’s account, military reports note that Iraqi Army battalion members were on the scene – pursuing attackers, securing the area, calling the fire department, providing support and an outer cordon.

So while the mosques came under attack, which is not unusual, they didn’t get destroyed. A couple of rooms in a couple of the mosques took some damage from Molotov cocktails, but the fire brigades responded and the damage was contained. No one burned to death. The entire AP story was rubbish.
It seems rather obvious by now that the AP relied on a source for over 60 stories over a seven-month period that manipulated the wire service in order to get insurgent propaganda broadcast around the world. Instead of following its own rules regarding the identification of sources and acquiring confirmation — rules expressly intended to avoid getting manipulated in this manner — the editors at the AP rushed these stories to print, cognizant of their inflammatory nature.
Those are the facts. That’s what the AP is supposed to report. They blew it, and they erode their credibility every day they continue to deny it.
UPDATE: Four mosques, not five — the NY Post has a typo in their caption. Thanks to a special unnamed reader for pointing it out to me.

3 thoughts on “Baghdad Mosques Still Standing”

  1. Live, From AP: The Jamil Hussein Dog and Pony Show

    Michelle Malkin just returned from Baghdad, Iraq, and among the things she saw there were some disturbing sights. She was able to view the still standing mosques that the AP’s Jamil Hussein said were damaged and destroyed by firebombings and that any…

  2. Live, From AP: The Jamil Hussein Dog and Pony Show

    Michelle Malkin just returned from Baghdad, Iraq, and among the things she saw there were some disturbing sights. She was able to view the still standing mosques that the AP’s Jamil Hussein said were damaged and destroyed by firebombings and that any…

  3. Jamilgate: U.S. officers tell Michelle Malkin
    “burning six” incident didn’t happen

    Part 42 of a series. Continued from this post. Lt. Col. Steven Miska, commander of the Dagger Brigade at Forward Operating Base Justice, observed: Part of it is, if you’re relying on Iraqi reporters, well, what are their biases? What

Comments are closed.