Freelance journalist Steven Vincent was kidnapped and killed in Basra:
Steven Vincent, whose work is published regularly on the Internet and in several U.S. publications, had been abducted earlier along with his Iraqi translator, Nour Weidi, who was seriously wounded. Five gunmen traveling in a police car seized Vincent and Weidi outside a money exchange shop, a policeman told the Associated Press.
“We can confirm that Steven Vincent was killed yesterday evening in Basra and we are supporting our us counterparts in their investigation,” said Julia Painting, political secretary at the British Embassy.
British troops are responsible for security in southern Iraq, where Basra is located. The U.S. Embassy confirmed the killing, but said that British and Iraqi forces would be leading the investigation.
Vincent’s IN THE RED ZONE: A JOURNEY INTO THE SOUL OF IRAQ is a must-read for those who want to understand the issues we face in Iraq. I reviewed and excerpted the book extensively beginning here.
There have been a number of stories lately about the controversy over the role of women in the new Iraq, and I was going to post on that subject using a number of quotes from Vincent’s book. He noted the issue and discussed it in depth long before it caught the attention of the Green Zone reporters.
Vincent had returned to Iraq to follow up his earlier visit and I had been looking forward to another book. Sadly, we won’t be getting it. And Iraq (and therefore the world) will be the worse for it.
UPDATE: Upon looking over my review, I noted this in my intro:
The book’s subtitle, “A Journey into the Soul of Iraq”, is both fitting and well-earned. He journeyed to Iraq to see first-hand what was going on. Not as an embedded reporter or a member of some fact-finding expedition. Basically, he went as a private citizen to see for himself.
This story is probably going to blow over in about twenty-four hours, but the significance of this loss will be felt for years or decades to come. I’ve read many books, columns, blog posts, and new reports on the situation in Iraq. None of them come as close to hitting the nail on the head as Vincent’s book.
We owe him. The least we can do is try to learn some of the lessons in his work and act accordingly.