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February 09, 2006


JS Narins

In principle, I agree with you.

In specific, I do believe the Jazeera is co-ordinating with the USG concerning the release dates of tapes they receive.

In history, I do believe that Ayman has used the tapes in the past to give the signal for the bombing of the SS Norway.


If I were Jill Carroll I would ask for a Quran and convert. Sorry if this offends anybody's sensibilities, but that's what I would do, and I hope to goodness it occurs to her. The captors, if they are really Muslims, would not be able to justify killing a convert. THey might do it anyway of course. But after reading the early history of Islam I am certain that in her situation I would talk about the mercy of the Prophet towards captives, and I would say the shihada three times where my captors could hear me. That's all that's required to make one a convert, and a real Muslim would feel some compunction at executing such a person. Not saying that this would guarantee her safety, just hoping that this option crosses her mind and that the captors are not completely bent upon her destruction.

Any press person traveling in the Middle East who can't so much as say the shihada in Arabic ought to consider his cultural fluency. At the very least you ought to be able to recognize the bismillah inscription, and the "la ilah ill'allah, Mohammed rasul allah" sentence in the original. The capacity to read even one verse of the Quran in Arabic might help you in a tight situation. (Besides the fact that studying Islam and the Quran is sort of basic to understanding the region, but hey, let's not be too demanding)

The Informer

Leila, you are dead-on, 100%, absolutely correct. Although you might remember when BBC's resident Arabist (Security expert), Frank Gardener, was attacked (shot) along with a cameraman Simon Cumbers, who was killed, in a dangerous neighborhood in Riyadh (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/3781877.stm). There were rumors that Gardener was begging for his life and shouting, “I am a Muslim.” This didn't seem to carry as much sway as might have been expected. But then again, he was not saying the shihada. And he was not converting before their eyes. Bottom line: this is a very prudent action and certainly better than "not" saying this. And even more relevant in your post: cultural fluency. This was one thing Jill had in spades.

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