- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Insurgents kidnapped and fatally shot American freelance journalist Steven Vincent and wounded his translator in the southern Iraqi town of Basra, bringing into focus the danger of trying to cover the Iraqi street.

Mr. Vincent’s body, with several wounds to the torso and head, was dumped on a Basra street. His interpreter and friend, Noor al-Khal, was reported in critical condition at a local hospital.

Reporters Without Borders said Mr. Vincent was the 14th foreign journalist and 64th media worker to be killed in Iraq since the start of the war. The group yesterday called for an investigation into the killing. Responsibility was taken by the terrorist group Ansar al-Sunna on an Islamic Web site.

Mr. Vincent, 49, wrote for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. His latest report in the Times said Basra’s police force was deeply infiltrated by members of Mahdi’s Army, consisting of forces loyal to the radical Islamist cleric Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr.

Witnesses said Mr. Vincent and Miss al-Khal were seized outside a currency exchange shop by men dressed in police uniforms and forced into a police car, a source in Iraq with access to intelligence reports said yesterday.

A former special forces officer who has been working as a security manager in Basra, and who knew Mr. Vincent, said the reporter had been living in a local hotel for several months.

Several reporters adopt this type of “low profile” while working in Iraq, trying to draw as little attention to themselves as possible. Others depend on large security contingents to protect them from kidnapping.

Mr. Vincent’s knowledge of local politics, corruption and rising Islam was considerable, said Lyle Hendrick who hosted the reporter on a visit to the Basra air base in May. The reporter placed a lot of this information on his Web log, or blog.

“He was getting close to the edge and went over the edge,” said Mr. Hendrick, who kept in constant touch with the reporter.

“He really did bore into many sectors of the power structure, the political parties, the social fabric here, and that boring eventually struck a nerve.”

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