CNN has posted the account of the kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena that was published yesterday in the Italian Communist newspaper for which she writes: “My truth>” Sgrena’a automobile was shot by American soldiers manning a checkpoint on the road to the airport in Baghdad. The negotiator who secured her release (Nicola Calipari) sat next to her in the car and was killed.
The tone of the article might lead one to believe that she is a victim of Stockholm syndrome, but her pre-kidnap views appear to have placed her in the corner of her captors as well. Here is her account of the shooting:
The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell. Nicola Calipari sat next to me. The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops. They told me that we were less than a kilometer away…when…I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier.
The driver started yelling that we were Italians. “We are Italians, we are Italians.” Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain. I didn’t know why. But then I realized my mind went immediately to the things the captors had told me. They declared that they were committed to the fullest to freeing me but I had to be careful, “the Americans don’t want you to go back.” Then when they had told me I considered those words superfluous and ideological. At that moment they risked acquiring the flavor of the bitterest of truths, at this time I cannot tell you the rest.
The accompanying CNN report expands on Sgrena’s account:
The U.S. military said Sgrena’s car rapidly approached a checkpoint Friday night, and those inside ignored repeated warnings to stop.
Troops used arm signals and flashing white lights, fired warning shots in front of the car, and shot into the engine block when the driver did not stop, the military said in a statement.
But in an interview with Italy’s La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said “there was no bright light, no signal.”
And Italian magistrate Franco Ionta said Sgrena reported the incident was not at a checkpoint, but rather that the shots came from “a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight.”
In an interview with Sky TV, Sgrena said “feeling yourself covered with avalanche of gunfire from a tank that is beside you, that did not give you any warning that it was about to attack if we did not stop — this is absolutely inconceivable even in normal situations, even if they hadn’t known that we were there, that we were supposed to come through.”
It seems slightly more inconceivable that anyone in the car would have survived the “avalanche of gunfire” described by Sgrena than that troops might fire on the car. The Washington Times article on the shooting rounds up information that belies Sgrena’s bitterest truth in relevant respects: “Italians kept U.S. forces in dark.” The Washington Post’s article contrasts the conflicting accounts of the shooting: “Shootings by U.S. at Iraq checkpoints questioned.”
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has a round-up with lots of good links here.