Fly any banner, service to others forms the bedrock of civil societies, and journalists, perhaps war journalists especially, serve others every hour afield. Across the jagged puzzle pieces of the Islamic Small Wars, journalists have been doing more than “taking it on the chin” — they have been taking bullets and leaving behind children and spouses, colleagues and readers.
The end of last week saw the brutally cold blooded, cold hearted, and senseless murder of AP photojournalist Anja Neidringhaus and the attempted murder of AP veteran Kathy Gannon by a so-called “defender” of civil order, of the innocent, and of Islam, Afghan police platoon commander Naqibullah, a man one report cites as enraged by NATO air strikes on his village elsewhere in the country.
If that’s the way he felt, what was he doing heading up a state police unit in the first place?
Two women sitting in a car and along comes this nut with an AK-47 . . . .
Life’s not much better across the border in Pakistan — see, for example, the Committee to Protect Journalist’s recent article, “What should happen following the Raza Rumi attack”.
While reading over the latest from the attack on Kathy Gannon and Anja Neidringhaus, I found news of still recent other murders of journalists in Afghanistan: Nils Horner, a Swedish broadcast journalist assassinated on the street; Sardar Ahmad, whose entire family was gunned down by teenage numbnuts shooting up the dinner hour at Kabul’s Serena Hotel restaurant — call the method “gangdum style”: after three hours of fighting, security managed to kill the baby killers (“Three Afghan children between 2 and 5 years old were shot point-blank in the head, the Reuters news agency reported”) after three hours of fighting, but not before nine people had died.
In the BackChannels way (until I get out of this place, if ever), excerpts follow.
She covered every major conflict, every massive world-changing event of the past 25 years. She was unflinchingly brave. Not in a cavalier way, but more like “This is very dangerous. But it’s important. It has to be done. It has to be covered. Who else is going to do it? I’m going.”
Chen, Pamela. “Colleague and Friend Remembers Slain Photographer Anja Niedringhaus.” National Geographic, April 5, 2014.
* * *
Two unidentified men approached Nils Horner, 51, in Kabul’s diplomatic district this morning, according to a New York Times report citing Col. Najibullah Samsour, a senior police official. One of the assailants shot Horner in the head at close range, and then both men fled the scene, the report said.
CPJ. “British-Swedish journalist shot dead in Afghan capital.” March 11, 2014.
Related: Graham-Harrison, Emma. “Taliban splinter group says it killed British-Swedish reporter Nils Horner.” The Guardian, March 12, 2014.
* * *
A gregarious 40-year-old star of Afghanistan’s booming media scene, Ahmad had an eye for both a story and a joke that helped him juggle two jobs as senior correspondent for Agence France-Press and head of media firm Pressistan, which he founded to support visiting foreign correspondents.
Graham-Harrison, Emma. “Sardar Ahmad: a courageous journalist who delivered exceptional coverage: Colleagues pay tribute to a dedicated Afghan journalist killed along with his wife and two daughters by Taliban gunmen in Kabul.” The Guardian, March 21, 2014.
Related: Kuruvilla, Carol. “Afghan reporter’s toddler son miraculously survives Taliban attack that killed family.” New York Daily News, April 4, 2014.
An enraged Afghan police commander on a “secure base”; Taliban assassins; four teenagers with guns — and gone: a courageous and talented AP photographer; an award-winning Swedish radio reporter; a brave Afghan journalists, husband, and father.
Whatever the motives of the killers, however they felt, whatever they were paid, they have been offing the best of the best, the most just, most merciful, and most free among mankind.
Afghan Journalists Safety Committee
Geller, Pamela. “AP Photographer Shot to Death, Journalist Wounded by Afghan Commander Who Walked Up to Their Car, yelled, “Allahu Akbar” and Opened Fire.” Atlas Shrugs, April 4, 2014.
News.Com.AU “Afghan officer Naqibullah shot journalists Anja Niedringhaus and Kathy Gannon ‘in revenge’. April 6, 2014.
Rosenberg, Matthew and Farooq Jan Mangal. “Covering Afghan Vote, Until Shot by an Ally.” The New York Times, April 4, 2014.
# # #