Michelle Malkin has seen several mosques that were described as “destroyed” by the AP. They are still standing. Her post also has what military sources say (and timestamps corroborate) are contemporaneous pictures of at least three of those mosques, from the day after they were allegedly “destroyed.” She has an accompanying New York Post piece that announces her findings.
Here is the background, for those of you who may have forgotten.
On November 24, 2006, the AP cited claims by Sunnis in Baghdad that Shiites had “destroyed” four mosques:
Sunnis claim mosques and houses burned by Shiite militia, police watch
By QAIS AL-BASHIR
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Sunni residents in a volatile northwest Baghdad neighborhood claimed Friday that revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen had destroyed four Sunni mosques, burned homes and killed many people, while the Shiite-dominated police force stood by and did nothing.
(All emphasis in this post is mine.)
The cited story is not on the Web [UPDATE: commenter DRJ shows that it is], but Mary Katharine Ham has quotes from it at this post, and I verified through a free Lexis/Nexis ALaCarte search that her quote is accurate, and that the AP did indeed quote Sunnis as claiming that four mosques had been “destroyed”:
I am not aware of any correction that the AP has ever made to the story.
A subsequent AP story (excerpted in Mary Katharine’s post) quoted Capt. Jamil Hussein as saying that four mosques had been “torched”:
Police Capt. Jamil Hussein said Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the burnings of Sunnis carried out by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia, or in subsequent attacks that torched four Sunni mosques and killed at least 19 other Sunnis, including women and children, in the same northwest Baghdad area.
And this AP story specified which four mosques had been attacked, according to Hussein:
The militiamen attacked and burned the Ahbab al-Mustafa, Nidaa Allah, al-Muhaimin and al-Qaqaqa mosques in the rampage that did not end until American forces arrived, Hussein said.
If you look at Michelle’s post, you will see pictures from the first three: the Mustafa, Nidaa Alah, and Muhaymin mosques. All of the pictures are from November 25, 2006 — the day after the AP described them as “destroyed.’ They were not. Michelle has seen all three.
I should note that there is a question about the fourth mosque. As I noted on December 19, a military press release from November 25 “appears to discuss a mosque not named in the AP story: Al Meshaheda.” That sounds like “al Mushahiba” (the fourth mosque mentioned in Michelle’s piece) but not like “al-Qaqaqa” (the one named in the AP story). I have e-mailed Michelle about this and she is following up.
Regardless of the answer to the question about the al-Qaqaqa mosque, we now have proof that at least three of the four mosques described as “destroyed” — were not.
The AP owes readers a correction.
On December 19, I said:
I’m tempted to start a daily “How Many Days Has It Been Since The AP Claimed Four Mosques Were Burned And Has Failed to Retract the Claim?” feature — but, in a rare display of blogger restraint, I’ll wait for the pictures . . . which I understand may be forthcoming soon.
It took longer than I thought, but we now have pictures.
And in case you’re interested, it’s been 58 days.
How about it, AP? Care to issue that correction?
And do you care to give us a clear statement as to whether you knowingly used a pseudonym for Jamil Hussein without disclosing it?
P.S. For the fake but accurate crowd, Michelle says:
Make no mistake. Hurriya is a Shiite militia-infested neighborhood where Sunnis have suffered horrible treatment. We accompanied a civil affairs patrol to a neighborhood meeting where US Mahdi Army apologists falsely accused Army Rangers of damaging their mosque and refused to provide any information on a kidnapping incident involving two Sunnis rescued by the Iraqi Army. But as the troops who work closely with that Iraqi Army battalion told us, the incident that made front page covers and worldwide headlines last Thanksgiving didn’t happen the way the AP and Jamil Hussein said it did . . .
Nobody is saying that atrocities don’t happen in Iraq. But this story has uncorrected inaccuracies, and those matter –despite the fact that atrocities are taking place. Accuracy in Big Media is always important. And if the various investigations into Iraq war reporting tell us anything, it’s that we should be skeptical. Michelle puts it well at the end of her New York Post piece:
MANY Iraqis lie to survive. Rumor is the common national dialect that unites the country’s warring sects and tribes. Sunni journalists carry multiple ID cards to disguise themselves. Shiite Iraqi Army members hide their day jobs – changing into uniform only after arriving on base.
Deception and manipulation are also tools of the insurgent trade. Satellites, cellphones and Internet cafes aid insurgent and militia propaganda wars 24/7.
It behooves the Western media to acknowledge these realities and maintain as much transparency about their sources and local stringers as possible.