Why is the U.S. After a Filmmaker for British TV?

Ali Fadhil (l) with Mustafa Kamil
[updated 25jan06]

Shortly after midnight last Saturday, U.S. troops used explosives to enter Dr. Fadhil’s Baghdad home. The soldiers began shooting haphazardly around the house where Fadhil, his wife and young children were sleeping.

Fadhil, an Iraqi physician, described the raid in Wednesday’s Guardian:

My three-year-old daughter Sarah woke to this nightmare. She pushed herself on to me and shouted “Daddy, Americans! They will take you! No, no, not like this daddy …”

U.S. Army officials later claimed that they had mistakenly entered the wrong house, but it was in fact the third time Dr. Fadhil’s home had been invaded by U.S. troops, as he explained to CBC radio Wednesday night [listen].

But it was no mistake. Today U.S. Brig. Gen. Donald Alston characterized the raid of Fadhil’s home as “appropriate,” according to CNN.

Dr. Fadhil is employed by Guardian Films for Channel 4’s “Dispatches” television documentary program in the UK. He recently won the 2005 Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award for his reporting in Iraq.

A blue-eyed captain came to me holding my Handycam camcorder and questioned me aggressively: “Can you explain to me why you have this footage?”

I explained. “These are for a film we are making for Channel 4 Dispatches. There is nothing sinister about it.”

According to Fadhil’s account, he was then hooded and taken for questioning.

Dr. Ali Fadhil is best known for his fifteen documentary on the aftermath of 2004’s Fallujah battle, “The Fall and Fallout” [watch]. His current project was an investigation of British and American construction projects in Iraq and most likely exposed rampant corruption.

The director of the film, Callum Macrae, told the Guardian:

The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.

We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali’s investigation.

It seems there are absolutely no assurances for any journalist who is not embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq. Fadhil’s recordings were seized five days ago and have not been returned, and to this point it seems only the Guardian has had the nerve to expose these unacceptable and unnecessary military actions. These actions, followed by general acceptance, is yet another indicator that the U.S. truly has no intention of making Iraq a better, safer, and freer country any time soon, if ever.

UPDATE: Sheldon Rampton, of the essential Center for Media and Democracy blog, along with Professor Juan Cole, exposes the widespread disappearance of Iraqi bloggers / journalists. So far, Dr. Fadhil’s journalistic history has not been clarified in the press, however, as Mahablog suggested earlier this week, it is quite possible that this Fadhil is the same Dr. Fadhil who once authored the blogs Iraq the model and Free Iraqi.

UPDATE: Fadhil was interviewed January 25 by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.

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