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Ear to the Ground

Wounded Journalists Smuggled Out of Syria

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Posted on Feb 28, 2012
AP Photo

An image from amateur video purports to show Paul Conroy of The Sunday Times in a makeshift clinic in Homs, Syria, on Feb. 23.

On Tuesday, a group of 35 Syrian volunteers—13 of whom eventually lost their lives—took part in a rescue operation to smuggle two foreign journalists, British photographer Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier, out of the besieged city of Homs. Conroy was taken to Lebanon, Bouvier to an unknown location.  —KA

AP via USA Today:

The two were injured last week in a government rocket attack on the rebel-controlled neighborhood of Baba Amr in central Homs. Two other Western journalists — American Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the same attack. Their bodies and two other uninjured foreign reporters — Frenchman William Daniels and Spaniard Javier Espinosa — may still be in Homs.

Their harrowing ordeal shined a light on the horrors of life under siege in Homs, a stronghold for government opponents waging an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian rule. Hundreds have been killed in more than three weeks of relentless shelling of the city, many of them dying when they ventured out to forage for food as a humanitarian crisis grew more dire by the day.

A top U.N. official released a new death toll for the 11-month-old uprising, saying well over 7,500 people have been killed and the conflict looked increasingly like civil war. Activist groups said Monday that the death toll had surpassed 8,000.

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, March 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

a lot of these so-called ‘journos’ are not what they seem

“Journalist” Paul Conroy is MI6 operative

Portrayed as a photojournalist for The Sunday Times, Paul Conroy, who has
recently escaped from the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr, is a British MI6 agent.

In this photo, he can be seen in Libya (in blue bulletproof vest) with, on the
right, Al-Qaeda leaders Mahdi al-Harati (in black body armor) and Abdelhakim
Belhaj (in camouflaged jacket).

• Mahdi al-Harati married an Irish woman and lived in Dublin. Paul Conroy is
from Northern Ireland and was raised in Liverpool.

According to former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, Mahdi al-Harati is still
wanted in Spain for his involvement in the Madrid bombings of March 11,

In 2010, with a well-groomed beard and an NGO cover, Mahdi al-Harati was
planted by MI6 in the “Freedom Flotilla,” which was on a mission to deliver
humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Mahdi al-Harati led the Al Qaeda brigade who besieged the Rixos Hotel in
Tripoli in August 2011. According to Khamis Gaddafi, he was overseen by
French instructors. According to a high-level foreign military source, NATO had
given al-Harati the assignment of capturing the Libyan leaders who sheltered
in a secret facility of the hotel, and of murdering former congressman and
Martin Luther King assistant, Walter Fauntroy, who was staying in the hotel. He
was also to eliminate two Voltaire Network collaborators, Thierry Meyssan and
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, who were based at the Radisson Hotel, whence al-
Harati operated his torture center. This decision had been made at a meeting
restricted to the NATO command in Naples a few days earlier. The meeting
minutes mentioned the presence of Alain Juppé. When questioned, his
secretariat denied any involvement by the French Foreign Minister, saying that
he was on vacation at that time.

In October 2011, Mahdi al-Harati organized a model village in Syria located in
the mountains on the Turkish border. For two months, he hosted Western
reporters singing them the praises of the Syrian “revolution.” The village is
inhabited by a tribe that was paid to stage demonstrations and pose for the
press. Al-Harati was visited in particular by Paul Moreira of Canal Plus and
Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro.

• Abdel Hakim Belhaj is Ayman al-Zawahiri’s right-hand man, and currently Al
Qaeda’s number two commander. Although officially still one of most wanted
criminals in the world, NATO named him military governor of Tripoli.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj holds a Qatar residence permit.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj has recently made ??several trips to Turkey, where he was
given an office on the NATO base at Incirlik, and to Syria where he built up
several groups comprising up to 1,500 combatants. According to Ayman al-
Zawahiri, it was his men who perpetrated the attacks in Damascus and Aleppo.

His organization, the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya, has merged with Al-
Qaeda but still figures on the terrorist list of the U.S. State Department and the
British Home Office.

By associating with renowned terrorists, Conroy falls within the scope of the
law of both in United States and Great Britain for complicity or association with
a terrorist group. He faces 15 years in prison, unless he pleads immunity as an
agent of the Crown.

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By gerard, February 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

“Their harrowing ordeal shined a light on the horrors of life under siege in Homs.” True.
  And something more the shining light reveals besides horrors—the gradually increasing universality of human pity and cross-cultural mercies.
  In order to perform this rescue, not one or two, but possibly hundreds had to decide to risk their own
lives to save two or three “foreigners.”
  It is out of this growing humanitarian self-sacrificial risk that world peace will ultimately come to prevail. The entire human race is ennobled
when actions of this sort occur and recur, and this spirit has been notably increasing worldwide for
at least 100 years. It grows more slowly than we would wish, but it grows.

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