Steven Vincent is dead. Dunno if you check sometimes for new on-the-spot bloggers in Iraq, but in recent months a spate of newcomers caught my eye, a.o. Michael Yon, blogging from Mosul, Sgt. Missick with his blog A Line in the Sand and… Steven Vincent, whose blog In the Red Zone dealt mostly with his Basra experiences. Well, Steven was killed yesterday, Tuesday August 2. He was abducted at gunpoint in the Ashar neighborhood of Basra, together with his female interpreter Mrs. Tiays, and his body was found on a nearby spot shortly after, showing multiple gunshot wounds. Mr. Tiays was shot in the chest but is being treated in a hospital. She is in critical condition.
During the short time I got to know Mr. Vincents blog I nevertheless was impressed by his vivid writing style and ability to paint a situation as if you were there. I especially recall his report on a visit in a British Army Landrover to an Iraqi Border Fort somewhere east of Basra. Basra seems to have been the place he was irresistibly drawn to, he was writing a book about it, and his numerous blog accounts picture a telling tale of a city where – let’s face it – corruption and rising religious interference threaten to destabilize reconstruction.
It now seems Vincents criticism of the disastrous impact of strictly religious Islamic groups on Basran society may have cost him his life. He was killed days after a critical piece of him appeared in the New York Times. I don’t have the link to that, but below is one to his latest (and alas, last) contribution to National Review. Steven was not shy to calling a spade a spade and had no good word for, a.o., SCIRI’s interference in Basra politics (e.g. their appointing of religious zealots in technical capacities over the heads of competent engineers) as well as the infiltration of SCIRI and Mehdi Army puppets in Basra Police.
On again, off again...
BASRA, IRAQ — In the middle of an interview with Sheik Abdul al-Baghdali, an American-hating supporter of Moqtada al-Sadr, the lights in his office suddenly went out. "This is what your country has done to Iraq," he snorted, "stolen its electricity." On his pumpkin-sized face was the insufferable smirk of a man who knows — right or wrong — he has you beat in an argument.
Save a prayer for this brave man and fellow blogger. Steven Vincent was a New Yorker, and I think it is only fitting that the last words in this post should be his:
"I stood that morning on the roof of my building in lower Manhattan and watched United Airlines Flight 175 strike the south tower of the World Trade Center. At that moment, I realized my country was at war -- because of the 1993 attack on the Trade Center, I figured our enemy was Islamic terrorism -- and I wanted to do my part in the conflict. I'm too old to enlist in the armed services, so I decided to put my writing talents to use."
Steven Vincent, December 2004, interview with Frontpage Magazine