When a renowned British aid worker was kidnapped in Iraq, the world was horrified. Herbody was never recovered, but her execution was captured on video and sent to Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel. Robert Fisk watched it and reveals why it has never been broadcast
Thursday, 7 August 2008
She stands in the empty room, a deplorable, terrible, pitiful sight. Is it Margaret Hassan? Her family believe so, even though she is blindfolded. I'm not sure if videos like this should ever be seen – or perhaps the word is endured – but they are part of the dark history of Iraq, and staff of the Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel have grown used to watching some truly atrocious acts on their screens.
The "execution" – the cold-blooded, appalling murder of Margaret Hassan, the Care worker who was a friend as well as a contact of mine – is among the least terrible of the scenes that lie in the satellite channel's archives.
Kidnapped by men in police uniforms, it is now November, 2004, and Margaret has already made her last appeal. Viewers saw her begging Tony Blair to help her, to withdraw British troops from southern Iraq. "I beg of you to help me," she says in a voice of great distress. But there was then another tape which Al Jazeera refused to show, in which Margaret was coerced into claiming that she gave information to American officers at Baghdad airport. A man's voice prompts her to keep to a text. "I admit that we worked with the occupation forces ..." she says. It is untrue, of course. Margaret was against the whole Anglo-American invasion. She would never have spied on Iraqis.