The Bigley Mystery

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An extremely bizarre story is developing on the fate of the British hostage in Iraq, Kenneth Bigley:

Dutch intelligence officers raided the home of Kenneth Bigley's brother last night. An intelligence officer from the Foreign Office is understood to have accompanied them to Paul Bigley's home in Amsterdam.

The raid came amid claims that the British hostage was free to roam his kidnappers' home in Iraq and was "caged" only for terrorist videos.

Paul Bigley's computer was seized and he was interrogated about his alleged contact with the Tawhid and Jihad group, which yesterday claimed responsibility for Thursday's killing of at least 35 children in Baghdad … Mr Bigley has been an outspoken critic of the Government's handling of his brother's case and has established his own contacts in the Middle East but denies being in direct contact with the kidnappers.

The whole thing is here in the Daily Telegraph, though the Daily Mail offers a far more skeptical take on the whole thing.

NEXT: The Trial of K Continues

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  1. Shannon-

    Well, if those kidnappings are fake, wouldn’t that undermine our previous appraisal of how evil and vicious our enemies are?

    I’m telling you, that libruhl media better stop reporting anything that says our enemies aren’t as bad as we thought! Takes all the fun out of killing them!

  2. Sorry, about my last post. I didn’t preview.

    This post suggest that fake kidnappings could be more common that many suspect.

    If so, it does support my contention that these kidnappings are primarily media driven.

  3. thoreau,

    “Well, if those kidnappings are fake, wouldn’t that undermine our previous appraisal of how evil and vicious our enemies are?”

    No, it suggest that they do not have the capacity to snatch real hostages thus indicating that are far weaker and incompetent than there media footprint would suggest.

    I don’t suppose it has occurred to you that if a simulated event brings the same benefits as a real event, it strongly suggest it is not the event itself that produces the benefit but the perception of others that the event occurred?

    For small scale terrorism like the kidnappings media attention is the critical factor in their success. Just as thought experiment, consider how many kidnappings would occur if nobody beyond those immediately involved knew of them. Economic kidnappings might still happen if ransoms were ever paid but political kidnappings would cease as they would accomplish nothing if not publicized.

    As a practical matter, I don’t really know what to do about the relationship between the global media and terrorism. Every realistically possible cure seems worse than the disease. Yet I do find it really disturbing that so many people are wholly unwilling to think about the problem even at a theoretical level.

  4. Shannon-

    A few things.

    First, you say:
    No, it suggest that they do not have the capacity to snatch real hostages thus indicating that are far weaker and incompetent than there media footprint would suggest.

    Just so I understand, we should fight unending wars around the globe because our enemies are so weak that they can’t even snatch real hostages on their home turf? This is why we’re draining the swamp?

    Or maybe, just maybe, the invasion of Afghanistan and overthrow of the Taliban (you might remember them, they were the government that actually provided haven to the group that attacked the US), coupled with intensive intelligence and law enforcement efforts, has severely weakened anti-American terrorist networks. Just a thought.

    Second, I agree that what the kidnappers want is attention. My question is, what are we going to do about it? You have made it clear that you don’t support any sort of coercive remedy, and I have defended you before from H&R posters who accused you of that. That leaves only a voluntary moratorium on covering certain aspects of terrorist activity.

    Admittedly, much of the press refrains from publicizing certain types of information, such as the identity of rape victims (laws prohibit those names from being revealed in court, but I’m not aware of any law barring a reporter from revealing the name outside the courthouse). However, there’s no individual whose privacy needs to be protected in the case of kidnappings and other terrorist acts. Indeed, the gov’t frequently prefers if information get out, to increase the odds of somebody coming forward with info. The benefit from a moratorium on reporting on terrorist activity is mostly a long-term benefit, and the press is unlikely to respond.

    So we’re left hoping for people to voluntarily keep a secret that they have plenty of incentives to reveal. And they say leftists have no understanding of human nature…

  5. I don’t know about the Bigley case, but those Italian women who were recently released certainly look suspicious. Why weren’t they beheaded, as so many others have been? Is it because the Italian government paid a one million dollar ransom, as has been reported? Or was the whole thing a set-up from the beginning?

  6. For small scale terrorism like the kidnappings media attention is the critical factor in their success.

    So we’re left hoping for people to voluntarily keep a secret that they have plenty of incentives to reveal

    I read somewhere that, during the week of one of the beheadings, google’s number-one search term was “beheading”. It seems masses of people want to see this sort of thing.

    The press/tv is no longer necessary for kidnappers. In fact, what news media are reporting isn’t the kidnapping so much as the Web presentations of the kidnapping.

    btw. Amnesty reports:

    In a bizarre holiday celebration several hundred schoolchildren were taken to watch six men being sentenced to death at a public sentencing rally, according to a Chinese internet report.

    “The Chinese government regularly ‘celebrates’ national holidays by executing large numbers of criminals,” said Ingrid Massage, Asia director at Amnesty International. “This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls in the same week as China’s National Day on Friday 1 October and there has been a surge of executions.”

    The schoolchildren were part of an audience of 2,500 people. Held in a gymnasium in Changsha, capital of central Hunan province, the sentencing rally was timed to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival on 27 September. The six men were then taken to an execution ground and shot, according to the report on the ‘Tom’ web portal.

    (AI Index: ASA 17/049/2004 (Public) 1 October 2004)

  7. I think you have a possible mix of stratyegies:
    1) I think Shannon is correct the bulk of the kidnappings are media driven. In that they are made to scare off folks in Iraq and convey a message of gloom.
    2) Some are conducted for money, I’d imagine. Not every kidnapping is necessarily a Jihadi or entirely a Jihadi. If the Philipines will cough up money or Italy or whomever, then a few folks are going to get “lifted” by some folks just to make a buck.
    3) Lastly some people are willing to join the “jane Fonda Bragade” and cooperate witht he Jihadis.
    I’m betting that group I is the largest, by far, and that group 3 is pretty small.

  8. “Well, if those kidnappings are fake, wouldn’t that undermine our previous appraisal of how evil and vicious our enemies are?”

    Thoreau, throwing bombs at schoolchildren isn’t evil enough for you?

    But throwing bombs at schoolchildren, while throwing a wrench in the US Army engineers sewage plans, does not really convey strength. But capturing western hostages does show strenght. And it gets you on TV. But it is kind of hard, because most westeners have bodyguards or they are protected by the military.

    So using someone who is favorable to your cause, but is a western, to fake a kidnapping. That shows strengh, and it is easy, and not that risky.

    Just a thought.

  9. thoreau,

    If you read the 9/11 Commission report one thing that strikes home is the fact that citizens and elected officials did not treat terrorism seriously in part because the media under-reported it, or reported it in such a way as to downplay the danger. What Shannon Love asks for of course is suicide.

    Also, note that Shannon Love’s link is completely unsubstantiated in its claims.

  10. For terrorists, a kidnapping can be real and “useful” even if the plan from the outset means releasing the captive(s) upon gaining some benefit. They don’t always execute the captives if they want the public to really sweat things out. They love the suspense because that holds our attention.

  11. As usual, the west thinks they are the center of the universe and our citizens are worth more than the locals.

    In fact, there are far more instances of Iraquis kidnapping Iraquis purely for money or revenge. Just as we pay little attention to Iraqui deaths, we pay little attention to the rampant crime wave that’s going on there. It’s getting much harder to glean this, though, due to the increasingly restrictive news coverage. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

  12. Gladfly,
    Yep your right. The Iraqi police that aren’t there to fight the terrorists also aren’t there to do what police normally do. There are a few traffic cops that I have seen, and they are in numbers at traffic intersections and stuff, they have to be in big groups with AK’s to defend themselves.

    Our military is not acting as a police. We only act as such withing our bases. And when we leave our bases we provide our own protection.

    So in the vacume, there is a lot of crime. And most citizens, specially females don’t go out at night.

    It is a war zone. But advances are being made. And I think the country will come around.

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