September 16, 2004


Good news:

Indonesian police have made their first arrests in connection with last week's Australian embassy bombing, nabbing a man and his wife suspected of being linked to the attack's masterminds.

More good news:

Two female suicide bombers gave themselves up to soldiers stationed at the Beit Iba roadblock near Nablus, Israel Radio reported Thursday morning.

And weird news:

A Sydney Shi'ite Muslim leader kidnapped at gunpoint in Iraq was released after his captors robbed him of $35,000, family and friends said today.

Sheik Naji, also known as Mohammad Sumyani, was reportedly driving in an area south of the capital Baghdad when a gang stopped his car, beat him and other passengers and kidnapped them.

Maybe they thought he was Robert Fisk. The Sheik was eventually freed after his captors relieved him of $35,000 he just happened to be carrying at the time:

Lebanese Muslim Association director Keysar Trad, a friend of the sheik, said he had spoken with Shi'ite leaders and Sheik Naji's brother in Sydney, Salem, who said the money was not a ransom.

"He didn't pay a ransom," Mr Trad said.

"That was money he had on his person that was taken from him."

Relatives say the sheik, who left Sydney last year to live in Iraq, now wants to return to Australia.

UPDATE. Terrible news:

Two Americans and a Briton were kidnapped from their smart Baghdad home today, as the two main powers behind last year's invasion became the latest victims of a five-month-old hostage crisis.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 16, 2004 10:31 PM

Ok i'll ask what the f*** was he doing carrying $35k in US currency??? Remembering that he is a Australian citizen.

Posted by: Just Another Bloody Lawyer at September 16, 2004 at 11:15 PM

I'll always remember the time I did some work for a guy who was also a book maker. He owed me some money, and we agreed to meet on a corner in North Sydney.

He strolls down the street. We shake hands. He pulls out a roll - a fist size roll - no wallet would have been big enough - of hundred dollar bills from his pocket, counts out what he owes me and puts (the only very slightly depleted) roll back in his pocket.

From that I learnt that if you don't trust banks, your pocket is a comparatively safe place.

Posted by: Alan Green at September 16, 2004 at 11:44 PM

It reminded me of (to the best of my memory) the joke about some some US soldier in Fallujah pleading in the name of Al-Sistani (spelling?) to let him go - with the problem being he was pleading to Sunnis: "He's not only an American but also a shi'ite?". (HealingIraq had the bad luck of mentioning this joke hours before the lynching of 4 soldiers in Fallujah)

Footage on the news showed Naji protesting against the war. Some possibilities:

1) He was against the war but is taking advantage of the overthrow of Saddam.

2) He was in favour of the war but wanted to be seen as opposed to it.

3) He was against the war before he was in favour of it.

Ok i'll ask what the f*** was he doing carrying $35k in US currency??? Remembering that he is a Australian citizen.

Even Iraqis know how wobbly our dollar is.

The $145K ransom sounds a lot like what would equal US$100K.

Posted by: Andjam at September 16, 2004 at 11:46 PM

"...kidnapped from their smart Baghdad home today..."

Terrible news, but I can't resist the home? Not too smart, imo. After all, a -truly- smart home would have prevented the kidnapping and called the cops!

Posted by: Vicki at September 17, 2004 at 01:46 AM

Yeah, kinda wondered myself what a smart house is?
Smart Bombs, I know, but..........

Posted by: Crusader at September 17, 2004 at 03:34 AM

Ok i'll ask what the f*** was he doing carrying $35k in US currency???

I was wondering that too. Particularly since he was supposed to be going to buy roof tiles to fix up his house. Must be a very big house to need $US35K worth of roof tiles, I thought.

And then the Evil Me started wondering whether this is a new way of money laundering, you know, for when "charities" and bank accounts are closed down. I mean, I've heard that the family are saying he was picked on because he's Australian but it's not as though you'd know that just by looking at the man. And he was supposed to be on that road only because he got detoured from his planned route because of a road side bomb. So it's not as though anyone, knowing he was Australian, could have known he'd be where he was when he was. Sounds odd to me.

Posted by: Janice at September 17, 2004 at 09:51 AM