Who Is Qais al-Bashir?


A reader of the blog was kind of enough to do a much more thorough search of Lexis-Nexis for the name Jamil Hussein. He also did one for Lt. Abdel-Razzaq who you may recall from my Getting The News From The Enemy series was at one time a source for various AP stories until the Iraqi government issued a warrant for his arrest: (via Centcom)

Of note, we definitely know that one IP spokesman – Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq of the city’s Yarmouk police station (a.k.a. police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razaq) is not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP and the MOI supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning. That happened a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t seen his name recently.

That searched turned up more then the dozen stories I had found initially. In fact Jamil is mentioned as a source in 61 articles starting on April 24th, 2006 through the November article that started this whole thing. You can get all the headlines here. The good Lt. Razzaq was mentioned in 23 articles starting on April 3rd, 2006 through November 13th. Get those here.

My reader noted a few things:

A few things struck me while I was compiling the lists:

— AP says Capt. Hussein has been a source for two years, yet there is no mention of him before April 2006.

— The first mention of Lt. Maithem Abdel-Razzaq also occurs in April.

— AP seems to be the only news agency to have contact with these officers.

— Somehow Hussein and Razzaq have information about incidents that occur throughout Baghdad. They provide details about attacks in southern, southwestern, central, northern and northwestern Baghdad.

— At least 16 AP reporters have cited Capt. Hussein as a source. Have they all spoken to him? If they had, I’m sure AP would have said so when his existence was questioned. So how do the reporters get his statements?

And then proceeded to detail the facts he has found and his questions, and there are many:

On Nov. 28 AP moved a story by Steven Hurst in response to the doubts raised about the six people being set on fire. Hurst writes:

“Seeking further information about Friday’s attack, an AP reporter contacted Hussein for a third time about the incident to confirm there was no error. The captain has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions. The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.”

Hurst doesn’t name the AP reporter he’s writing about, but it would have to be either Hurst himself, Thomas Wagner or Qais al-Bashir. On Nov. 24, all three wrote stories about the burnings. The first story, a brief item of three sentences, was written by al-Bashir, who cites Capt. Hussein as his source (“Militiamen burn six Sunni worshippers alive, army does not intervene”). According to LexisNexis, it moved on Nov. 24 at 3:38 PM GMT and again at 3:47 PM. A slightly longer story with the same headline moved at 3:50 PM GMT. That story, also by al-Bashir, adds details about other attacks. The story has two sources: Capt. Hussein and 1st. Lt. Maithem Abdul-Razaq.

It’s important to note that the very same Lt. who was discredited by the Iraqi government and had a warrant out for his arrest was quoted in the very same article as Jamil was. Coincidence?

A story by Wagner and al-Bashir moved at 4:56 PM GMT (“Shiites Burn 6 Sunni Worshippers Alive”). Another story about the burnings and other attacks, also by Wagner and al-Bashir, moved at 9:05 PM GMT (“Shiite Militiamen Kill 25 Sunnis in Iraq”).

Finally, a story by Hurst moved at 9:45 PM GMT (“Shiite militiamen burn Sunnis alive in revenge attacks for Sadr City slaughter”). Hurst’s story ends with this line: “AP correspondents Thomas Wagner, Bassem Mroue and Qais al-Bashir contributed to this report.” (The “November 24” attachment shows all this info plus the first paragraph of each story.)

So it’s safe to assume that al-Bashir is the AP reporter who allegedly spoke with Capt. Hussein. But who is al-Bashir and what are his journalistic credentials? Here’s what I was able to glean from Nexis.

The first mention of Qais al-Bashir occurs on Sept. 23, 2003, in a Houston Chronicle story out of Baghdad by Michael Hedges and David Ivanovich (“Long lines, low prices: U.S. taxpayers footing bill for cheap Iraqi gasoline”). The story quotes al-Bashir: ” ‘Benzene is cheaper than water here,’ local journalist Qais Al-Bashir said Friday.”

In another Houston Chronicle story on Oct. 5, 2003 (“Day at the races: Horse track in Baghdad gives respite from fears”), Hedges again quotes al-Bashir: ” ‘This marketplace is famous as the place where intellectuals and poets gather,’ said Qais Al-Bashir, himself a poet and journalist.”

Between March 2004 and April 2006, al-Bashir’s name comes up in 16 stories in a British newspaper, The Guardian. In the March 2004 story, The Guardian says he is a translator for the paper, and in the later stories he is given reporting credit, always with other writers.

Al-Bashir had his first Associated Press byline on May 26, 2006.

So Qais al-Bashir is an Iraqi who in 2003 claimed to be a journalist. Does that mean he worked as a journalist when Saddam was in power, in a country where the press was controlled by the state and the concept of independent, skeptical news media was unknown? Where did he get his training? How did AP check his credentials? Besides contributing to a handful of stories for The Guardian, what kind of reporting did he do before joining AP?

As Newsbusters notices, Qais al-Bashir has a new article out about the car bombing:

Qais al-Bashir, the AP reporter responsible for the burning Sunnis story, is up to the same old tricks. His article did not make it to the American media but was published in The Guardian. Guess the AP forgot about the Internet.

This time al-Bashir reported on the Baghdad Market bombing. While we know that the bombing did actually happen, the tall tale weaver ran with an inflated casualty count from one of the unauthorized sources from CentCom’s list.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Three parked car bombs exploded in central Baghdad on Saturday near a predominantly Shiite area packed with vendors, killing at least 91 people and wounding dozens, officials said.The bombs were about 100 yards apart in the busy al-Sadriyah shopping district and exploded nearly simultaneously, according to police Lt. Ali Muhsin.

At least 10 other parked vehicles were destroyed in the area, where vendors sell fruit, vegetables and other items such as soap. Muhsin and hospital officials said 91 people were killed and 43 were wounded.

Gateway Pundit is checking with Centcom on Lt. Ali Muhsin.

I wonder, is Qais the key to these stringers?

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Uh, upon re-reading the AP’s “The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.” ……

Interesting how Mr. Hussein did not reiterate that all six are, uh, dead…. very interesting.

“Set on fire” could mean a shirt sleeve quickly doused.

Misc. Sunday linkage

Some stories/blog posts you may be interested in perusing:
—- Boston Hearld editor Jules Crittenden writes a blistering editorial slamming the AP for its “shoddy” work on making sure the sources they get some of their scoops from on t…

Who Is Qais al-Bashir?

Superb sleuthing by Curt… Wow…
Courtesy of Flopping Aces:
A reader of the blog was kind of enough to do a much more thorough search of Lexis-Nexis for the name Jamil Hussein. He also did one for Lt. Abdel-Razzaq who you may recall from …

Supporting Enemy Propaganda–NYT

Please notice that the NYT piece and the page that has the email from Wong are BOTH from Tom Zeller. So it cannot be claimed that Zeller wasn’t aware of this email, he deliberately left it out of the article in question!!!