The family of an Iraqi journalist – who he claimed had been killed by gunmen in Baghdad – have appeared on Iraqi television, apparently safe and well.
Dia al-Kawwaz, who lives in Jordan, said that several members of his family were killed by Shia gunmen on Sunday.
But a taped report on the US-owned al-Hurra TV showed his family, none of whom seemed distressed or injured.
Mr Kawwaz’ sisters denounced his actions, saying there had never been any sort of threat against them.
One of his brothers-in-law suggested that he had made the story up for political reasons.
Mr Kawwaz edits a website that has been critical of the Iraqi government and the US military presence in Iraq.
The front-page screencap shows him accepting condolences in Jordan a few days ago. Reporters Without Borders, which took up his cause, wants an explanation. Instead they’re getting crap like this: “When Reporters Without Borders contacted Kawwaz today he was evasive about the alleged incident and could not name the relatives who had supposedly been killed. Questioned several times by Agence France-Presse, he was unable to give the exact address of the family home where the massacre allegedly took place or where the victims were supposedly buried.”
Apparently he’s posted a message on his website insisting that his family’s been “pressured to deny the facts.” The facts about them being killed?
The curious thing is that Kawwaz is himself a Shiite, which eliminates the sectarian motive. Presumably he’s aligned with one of the factions (the Sadrists, probably, given his antipathy to the occupation) and is trying to frame SCIRI or Fadhila or some other rival. But in that case, why not accuse one of those groups specifically of having done the killing? “Shia gunmen” can mean anyone. Maybe he was trying to embarrass the U.S. by showing security in Baghdad is still poor enough to admit the occasional massacre and didn’t realize that, um, people would go knock on his family’s door to check after the claim was made? Stupid.