Killed Margaret Hassan?
By Robert Fisk
18 November 17,
After the grief,
the astonishment, heartbreak, anger and fury over the apparent murder
of such a good and saintly woman, that is the question her friends -
and, quite possibly, the Iraqi insurgents - will be asking.
woman held an Iraqi passport. She had lived in Iraq for 30 years, she
had dedicated her life to the welfare of Iraqis in need.
She hated the United
Nations sanctions and opposed the Anglo-American invasion.
So who killed Margaret
Of course, those
of us who knew her will reflect on the appalling implications of the
videotape (sent to Al Jazeera yesterday and apparently showing her execution).
Her husband believes
it is evidence of her death.
If Margaret Hassan
can be kidnapped and murdered, how much further can we fall into the
There are no barriers,
no frontiers of immorality left. What price is innocence now worth in
the anarchy that we have brought to Iraq? The answer is simple: nothing.
I remember Margaret
arguing with doctors and truck drivers over a lorry-load of medicines
for Iraq's children's cancer wards in 1998. She smiled, cajoled and
pleaded to get these leukaemia drugs to Basra and Mosul.
She would not have
wished to be called an angel - Margaret didn't like clichés.
Even now I want to write "doesn't like clichés". Are
we really permitted to say that she is dead?
For the bureaucrats
and the Western leaders who today will express their outrage and sorrow
at her reported death, she had nothing but scorn.
Yes, she knew the
risks. Margaret Hassan was well aware that many Iraqi women had been
kidnapped, raped, ransomed or murdered by the Baghdad mafia.
Because she is a
Western woman - the first to be abducted and apparently murdered - we
forget how many Iraqi women have already suffered this terrible fate;
largely unreported in a world which counts dead American soldiers but
ignores the fatalities among those with darker skins and browner eyes
and a different religion, whom we claimed to have liberated.
And now let's remember
the other, earlier videos. Margaret Hassan crying. Margaret Hassan fainting,
Margaret Hassan having water thrown over her face to revive her, Margaret
Hassan crying again, pleading for the withdrawal of the Black Watch
regiment from the Euphrates River.
In the background
of these appalling pictures, there were none of the usual Islamic banners.
There were none of the usual armed and hooded men. There were no Qur'anic
And when it percolated
through to Fallujah and Ramadi that the mere act of kidnapping Hassan
was close to heresy, the combined resistance groups of Fallujah - and
the message genuinely came from them - demanded her release.
did Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda man whom the Americans falsely
claimed was leading the Iraqi insurrection, but who has definitely been
involved in the kidnappings and beheadings.
Other abducted women
were freed when their captors recognised their innocence.
But not Margaret
Hassan, even though she spoke fluent Arabic and could explain her work
to her captors in their own language.
If anyone doubted
the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their
viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan's murder?
What more ruthless
way could there be of demonstrating to the world that the US and Interim
Prime Minister Iyad Alawi's tinpot army were fighting "evil"
in Fallujah and the other Iraqi cities?
Even in the topsy-turvy
world of Iraq, nobody is suggesting that people associated with the
government of Mr Allawi had a hand in Margaret Hassan's death. Iraq,
after all, is awash with up to 20 insurgent groups but also with rival
gangs of criminals seeking to extort money from hostage-taking.
But still the question
has to be answered: who killed Margaret Hassan?
'Our hearts are
broken... her suffering has ended'
by Michael, Deirdre, Geraldine and Kathryn Fitzsimons, brothers and
sisters of Margaret Hassan, last night
are broken. We have kept hoping for as long as we could, but we now
have to accept that Margaret has probably gone and at last her suffering
and thoughts are with our dear brother-in-law Tahseen. Margaret was
a friend of the Arab world, to people of all religions. Her love of
the Arab people started in the 1960s when she worked in Palestinian
camps, living with the poorest of the poor and supporting the refugees.
past 30 years, Margaret worked tirelessly for the Iraqi people.
had only goodwill towards everyone. She had no prejudice against any
creed. She dedicated her whole life to working for the poor and vulnerable,
helping those who had no one else.
are guilty of this atrocious act, and those who support them, have no
can justify this. Margaret was against sanctions and the war.
such a crime against anyone is unforgivable.
cannot believe how anybody could do this to our kind, compassionate
she leaves will never be filled."
© 2004 The
Star & Independent Online