I’ve just received some disturbing news from Brian Conley, coordinator of the video blog Alive in Baghdad. One of his team members has been kidnapped in Baghdad while taping footage for the blog. Because of concerns from his family, Brian hasn’t published the individual’s name yet, but I hope this will occur soon so we can start mobilizing a campaign for his release.
Here’s the text of Brian’s post:
It is with deep regret that I type some of the words I hoped would never come.
It is foolish to have thought we might somehow be safe from the violence and chaos of Baghdad’s streets. However, I somehow believed we had a kind of special defense or protection against the ordinary violence of Baghdad in 2006.
On Sunday morning, between 11am and 12pm, one of our newest correspondents disappeared from the al-Amal Neighborhood. He was there with his brother, gathering B-roll of the security in place around Baghdad’s gas stations, as well as the long refueling lines that continue to insult the residents of one of the world’s most oil-rich countries.
At the request of his family, we can only reveal certain information at this time. We hope their perspective will change soon, because we believe that, in this case, publicity is one of our most important tools to ensure our colleague’s safe return.
Before he began filming our correspondent confirmed permission with the Iraqi National Guard in the area who were maintaining security around the station. After they agreed to allow him to film, he took some footage of the National Guard’s security position and then moved on to shoot nearby the gas station.
While his brother waited in their car across the street, he approached the station and began gathering footage. This correspondent was hired primarily to gather footage around the city of Baghdad to provide our viewers insight into the day-to-day life on Baghdad’s streets.
Within ten to fifteen minutes of his approaching the gas station, gathering photos and video of the pumps, the long lines, etc. a civilian vehicle approached. Several men left this vehicle, they were not uniformed, but carried pistols, what appeared to be “police handcuffs” according to his brother, and other guns.
The correspondent was grabbed, blindfolded, and placed in the vehicle which then left the scene.
During this entire time, the Iraqi National Guard were nearby, within sight, and did nothing.
It is unclear who kidnapped him, but it is believed to be one of the militias that is connected to the current Iraqi government. The inaction of the Iraqi National Guard suggests it was either a militia or plain-clothed unit operating in the area.
It has now been over 48 hours since our colleague went missing. We are calling on press freedom outlets as well as other bloggers, vloggers, journalists, and governments to take a stance against this.
Alive in Baghdad has endeavored to be a non-partisan source of news about life in Iraq with Iraqis themselves producing content and telling stories about their lives.
If you have information or wish to offer support in the safe return of our colleague, please send an email to aliveinbaghdad at gmail.com.
I’ll post updates as soon as I learn more information. -andy