Still Standing: The Mosques of Hurriyah

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 22, 2007 10:29 AM

If you'll remember, way back at the beginning of the Jamil Hussein story, the AP reported that not only were six Sunnis burned alive, but four mosques were destroyed by Shiite militias:

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.

As the story progressed, the mosque count was lowered and then snipped out of the storyline altogether, without correction or clarification. Michelle Malkin went to Hurriyah when she was in Baghdad. She did some reporting and visited all four mosques. All four were standing, decidedly undestroyed.

Her whole investigation is here.

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.

See pictures of the mosques, here.

Now, it really couldn't be more obvious that AP's stringer source on the ground is, at best, unreliable. Four mosques were reported destroyed when, in fact, they are standing and some are in operation. It only took Michelle's going to them to find that out, talking to soldiers who patrol the area. You know, reporting.

Then, there's this quote, from Michelle's piece:

Capt. Aaron Kaufman of Task Force Justice, which works closely with the Iraqi Army battalion that was on the scene and monitored events as they happened, told us: "It was blown way out of proportion, there was nobody lit on fire."

It doesn't do AP a whole lot of good that Hussein is real if he's a real big liar, which would seem to be the case. I understand that things can get mixed up in the fog of war, but four mosques and six burning people? The AP owes us much better than that.

Today's Vent covers the Hurriyah mosques. Perhaps Kathleen Carroll can get a copy of this on-the-ground verification of stories to her stringers in Iraq as a guide.