October 21, 2004


Australian journalist John Martinkus, captured by the brave Iraqi resistance, Googled his way to freedom:

Iraqi insurgents who took Australian journalist John Martinkus hostage carried out a Google search on the Internet to determine whether they should kill him.

When he turned out to be neither American nor CIA, but the author of a book about how the US is facing an uphill battle to beat the insurgents in Iraq, it almost certainly saved his life.

Possibly his Google-aware captors happened upon this. ďThe Australian, he is one of us!Ē

Mr Martinkus, 35, described his kidnapping as an "interesting" experience.

"These guys, they're not stupid. They are fighting a war but they are not savages - they're not actually killing people willy-nilly. There was no reason for them to kill me," he told reporters on his arrival at Sydney airport last night.

"There was a reason to kill (British hostage Kenneth) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the (two) Americans (kidnapped with Bigley). There was not a reason to kill me."

Andrew Bolt has more on this charming fellow.


Kidnapped Australian journalist John Martinkus was attacked today by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and former hostage Steve Pratt for appearing to say that Iraqi terrorists had a reason to kill some hostages.

Mr Downer said today it was pretty much the most appalling thing any Australian had said about the Iraq war.

"There is no mistaking the arrogance in his remarks - the disgusting disregard for the deaths of British hostage Ken Bigley and US civilians murdered by terrorists," Mr Pratt wrote in a letter the The Australian newspaper.

"There is no excuse for anybody hacking off those poor men's heads. But Martinkus seems to be making excuses for their executioners."

Posted by Tim Blair at October 21, 2004 01:45 AM
"There was a reason to kill (British hostage Kenneth) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the (two) Americans (kidnapped with Bigley). There was not a reason to kill me."
So if the Americans, whom he opposes, had captured and beheaded him, that would have been alright? Posted by: surly at October 21, 2004 at 02:51 AM

Bigley and the Americans were helping to turn Iraq into a stable, functioning democracy.
Martinkus is doing everything he can to help bring about the opposite. So of course the terrorists had no reason to kill him; he's one of them.
He's a worthless piece of shit and I feel ashamed and disgusted to know that he's from the same country as me.

Posted by: gaz at October 21, 2004 at 03:08 AM

Do these people simply not hear themselves? I just can't imagine being so completely self-unaware.

Posted by: Rebecca at October 21, 2004 at 03:09 AM

They aren't savages, they just saw the heads off of non-combatants.

What a total ass.

BTW, what's he doing in Sydney? Shouldn't he be debriefing the coalition to help them track down and identify his captors.

Oh, that's right - he's not anti-war. He's on the other side.

Posted by: R C Dean at October 21, 2004 at 03:35 AM

Not anti-war; just on the other side.

Posted by: SouthernCross at October 21, 2004 at 03:48 AM

I had thought this character was dealing with the "Stockholm Syndrome", but I realize now that 24 hours is a pretty fast turn around time. He probably had sympathies for the terrorists before being kidnapped.

Well, I'm sure that the families of the murdered people are really happy to hear these terrorists are not savages.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 21, 2004 at 03:57 AM

He's not entirely wrong, here. There was a reason to kill the others. It was just a really fucked up reason.

Posted by: Emily at October 21, 2004 at 04:00 AM

Another victory for appeasement. His head chopping has been delayed until the ones who fight back are dead.


Posted by: Sortelli at October 21, 2004 at 08:15 AM

John Martinkus escapes beheading: his gain, our loss.

Posted by: BT at October 21, 2004 at 08:18 AM

"These guys, they're not stupid. They are fighting a war but they are not savages - they're not actually killing people willy-nilly."

No "willy-nilly"? They must be alright then.

Posted by: SleepyInSeattle at October 21, 2004 at 08:21 AM

I find his story to be totally outrageous. Who else can confirm that he was, in fact, kidnapped?

Posted by: Jim in Texas at October 21, 2004 at 08:27 AM

Doesn't anyone else find it a little convenient that an avowed anti-war journo was "kidnapped" from a outside a hotel full of Journo's, only to return and confirm his views about the "insurgency" really being just a descent bunch of people (who only hacksaw of the heads of live, struggling, screaming people when there is a good reason to)

See if you can guess which one I think doesn't go with the others

1)Donna Mulhearn
3)Load of crap
4)Gods honest truth

Posted by: Michael at October 21, 2004 at 08:41 AM

Odd, after reading the last quote I can think of a reason to kill him.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at October 21, 2004 at 08:55 AM

More details on the course of events.

And something here on how the kidnapping trade in Iraq works: "criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathists to the criminals."

I read on an Iraqi blog that many more Iraqis are being kidnapped than foreigners. Presumably that's taking place mostly on the bottom rung, the 'purely criminal' kidnappings.

Posted by: mitch p. at October 21, 2004 at 09:53 AM

Google should check their logs to see where the googling for Martinkus came for,
might help in identifying the computer and perhaps its location.
Then, Mr Bush, drop the biggest bomb you have.

Posted by: Geek at October 21, 2004 at 09:54 AM

Savages ofen have wives and children, laugh and tell jokes, and use the internet. But they always revert to form when they're about their business of being savages.

Martinkus isn't headless, but he's certainly clueless, for it is an objectively true statement that beheaders of captives are savages.

BTW, if Martinkus is considering a vacation after his brush with headlessness, may I suggest a visit to Saudi Arabia? And may I suggest that he bring with him a few vials of heroin to sell? After all, only savages would behead a small-time drug dealer.

Posted by: fooltomery at October 21, 2004 at 10:01 AM

And people such as this lord HAw Haw toad are being paid to travel to Iraq and make films for SBS with public money!!!!!
More googling shows his love -ins with human shield droids.
Andrew Bolt again makes an important point regarding the "swedish syndrome" and its application to western journalists.
the excuses from press associations are that unless they report sympathecally, the journos are endangering themselves.
Well Hell we know this from the PLO already so why do'nt we get little postripts like "subject to reporting restrictions".
Baghad like rammallah is now a watering hole for every western hating, jihad loving, lefty troll of the press world. We've seen it all before in the former Yougoslavia.
No wonder they cannot find anybody "worthy' to kidnap amongst them.

Posted by: davo at October 21, 2004 at 11:01 AM

What an utterly despicable invertebrate.

Posted by: SteveH at October 21, 2004 at 11:30 AM

John Martinkus is a Big Brother evictee, a failed Australian Idol contestant...a blow-fly buzzing around the kitchen. Nothing more.

Posted by: BT at October 21, 2004 at 12:42 PM

John Martinkusis a perfect example of the biased reporting that SBS keeps flogging to the public. He admitted that he is on the terrorists side , this makes him a traitor.
His story is crap just like Donna Mulhearne's story. It pisses me off that my tax dollar pays this liars wage.
The only good thing to come out of SBS is shows like South Park..

Posted by: John P at October 21, 2004 at 01:41 PM

"My enemy's enemy" reinforced:

If TV journalist John Martinkus is openly sympathetic to Baathist thugs; Trotskyists and "Stop The War" activists openly unite with Moslem Brotherhood fanatics; ALP Senate candidate Dr Ivan Molloy openly expresses solidarity with Mindanao Jihad guerillas; etc, etc ... why is it a "nonsense" to suspect the violent, anti-democracy "secularist" Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi state apparatus entertaining, cooperating with, financing or manipulating Al Qaeda and other violent anti-democracy "religious" terrorists?

Posted by: Fabian Hammer at October 21, 2004 at 01:45 PM

24 hours , wow.
He must have been pretty convincing.

I'm reminded of John Belushi in the Blues Brothers when Carrie Fisher is about to blow him up.

Posted by: MOik at October 21, 2004 at 02:37 PM

John Martinkus was "kidnapped" and John Kerry was on a secret mission in Cambodia.
Lala Land stories.

Posted by: Felis at October 21, 2004 at 02:43 PM

SBS is Sydney's 'multicultural' channel . The staff and reporters are so-called 'ethnics' who supposedly believe in 'diversity' and 'tolerance'- only for those of the correct ethnic group, however. "Anglo" staff are unwelcome on SBS.

SBS coverage is relentlessly leftwing, esp. concerning Israel. This channel is subsidised by Australian taxpayers.

"No reason for them to kill him"? Isnt he an 'infidel'?

Posted by: dee at October 21, 2004 at 03:18 PM

As predicted Tim twists Martinkus' frightening experience into a soft on terrorism theme. Brave Tim, battling the terrorists from the safety of his armchair.

If its a contest to see who's got the real balls as a journalist, then go read Martinkis' account.

read it all

Posted by: Rex at October 21, 2004 at 03:47 PM

Hey Dee, any evidence to back up your claims re: the racial make-up of SBS staffing? Or was that an "ironic" post?

As much evidence as Downer claiming Martinkus was in a no-go area - any of the posters here have word on whether Martinkus, or Downer, was telling the truth?

Posted by: chico o'farrill at October 21, 2004 at 03:49 PM

You clowns laying into Martinkus have 1-bit colour perception -- black or white -- with us or agin us. Either you are too rudimentary to be termed human or you are dishing out dihonest bile.

Posted by: Alan at October 21, 2004 at 03:58 PM

Nice to see Martinkus redefining the rules of engagement for SpecOps. He surely would not deny reciprocity in managing this one. Ok, we know he would.
I have this unattributable feeling that we are going to see Ken Bigley's tormentors up close without the hoods, if only by photo. It has turned into a sort of class project I hear.

Posted by: TT at October 21, 2004 at 04:00 PM

Why in the world would the terrorists want to kill the journalist that gives the best hummers?

Posted by: Harry in Atlanta at October 21, 2004 at 04:38 PM

Fair go Tim. I have met Martinkus onece or twice and he is a pretty decent fellow, with his head screwed on right. He covered the Timor conflict with great distinction, exhibiting personal bravery, professional efficiency and political sympathy.

Tim B. should put Martinkus statement in full context of his capture and explanation for his own release. He was not putting out an endorsement of jihadist beheadings. Bear in mind that he has just come out of the most terrifying ordeal that any man can expect to face - the prospect of execution. An elaboration of his, admittedly poorly-worded, statement about beheadings can be found here:

JOHN MARTINKUS: It was terrifying. You canít - I didnít know whether I was going to be killed. I didnít know whether my throat was going to be slashed. I didnít know if I was going to be physically tortured.
Instead, all they did was ask me questions. But it was extremely, extremely scary because I didnít know how I was supposed to be answering these questions.
And many of the questions were very double-edged, you know. They asked me about their methods, if I supported their methods and, of course, I donít support beheading, nobody does.

Martinkus point, about the rationality of insurgents executing coalition workers, is simply an application of the cold-blooded logic of logistical warfare into the guerilla context. He is not endorsing the morality of such atrocities:

MARK DAVIS:...you said that theyíre not - theyíre not monsters, but itís pretty monstrous to be slashing the throats of truck drivers and engineers...
JOHN MARTINKUS: Yes, it is a monstrous thing and thereís no way anybody could support that kind of behaviour and you mentioned some comments I made when I arrived back yesterday at the airport and I think some of them have been used out of context.
...I wasnít killed because they didnít see me as a target. They didnít see that - they realised that I didnít - they realised that I didnít work with the Americans.
From their perspective, anybody, Iraqi or a foreign national, who works with the coalition is a combatant, is a justified target in their campaign to basically terrorise the foreign presence there into leaving.

Guerilla warfare is not pretty. My father, Giacomo Strocchi, was a partisan commander who had to preside over a firing squad that executed a Nazi collaborator. The man begged for his life but Dad had no choice. Guerillas do not have prisoner of war camps.

Of course, there is a world of moral difference between occupied Italy and occupied Iraq. The US in Italy was a liberator, the Nazis were opressors and the partisans were freedom fighters.

The US in Iraq is trying to be a liberator, the Baathists were fascists and the jihadists would put Iraq back into the dark ages.

Martinkus should not be blamed for straight talk. His analysis of his captors behaviour, and the military status of coalition workers, accords with SOP in guerilla warfare. He told the truth, and that is the reason his head is still attached to his shoulders.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at October 21, 2004 at 04:41 PM

Hope South park refrains from taking the piss out of OBL and Zaqwari , otherwise we will lose the only SBS show worth watching.
wait a minute, john martinkus is a WASP is he not. and employed by SBS.
REX what's with the SBS links for the "other side".
"There was a reason to kill (British hostage Kenneth) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the (two) Americans (kidnapped with Bigley). There was not a reason to kill me."

Posted by: davo at October 21, 2004 at 04:50 PM

I'm with Emily. And I don't think Martinkus is praising his captors here, more making careful distinctions. He was quite forthcoming about his likely fate had he been captured by an Islamic group.

Tim: it's about time you fixed your weblog - there's too much colour - all these reds and blues are distracting. There's also far too many shades of grey. You should definitely be going with more of a black-and-white, good-vs-evil scheme.

Posted by: Alan Green at October 21, 2004 at 05:02 PM

Poor Rex! You wouldn't believe that liar Martinkus. The story was just invented for people like you. I hope SBS one day gets its budget well and truly cut. They are all no hopers there.
As for Alan, you're just a dope

Posted by: hube at October 21, 2004 at 07:38 PM

There is only one thing to say at this point in the comments: Fabrizio Quattrocchi. If you are not mentally prepared for capture when you join the services, or become a journalist, or a Halliburton worker and go in harm's way, then you are fool. The fact that these issues are now seriously discussed means that this war is the real thing. It is clear that this is a contest of wills, to the finish. We owe it to our children and their children that we do not wimp out. Our fathers didn't give in to the Krauts and Jappos.

Posted by: cottus at October 22, 2004 at 02:16 AM

They're not savages, they're just anti-Americans in a hurry!

Posted by: pst314 at October 22, 2004 at 04:33 AM

Hello, hello! Dee?

All the SBS spokespeople thus far on radio, press & TV on ths issue have been anglo-folks. If that issue is still burning for you.

Hube, SBS present some pretty fine TV from time to time, a damn good investment of my taxes - no complaints at all. Ain't democracy grand?

Posted by: chico o'farrill at October 22, 2004 at 01:23 PM

"Hube, SBS present some pretty fine TV from time to time"

And it all soft-core French porn

Posted by: Sheriff at October 22, 2004 at 05:03 PM

You people all seem so scared of people with another point of view that differs from the one you've been fed(no don't tell me you've formed these all by yourself) want journos killed? SBS funding slashed? What are you so scared of?

Posted by: radical leftie treehugger at October 22, 2004 at 05:43 PM

You're from a think tank?


Posted by: Quentin George at October 22, 2004 at 06:04 PM

Chico - then who are all those Chinese and Spanish looking hosts I keep seeing on the SBS news and current affairs programs? Martinkus himself is hardly an Anglo.

Its not an issue for me - I watch SBS news and docos often and have no objection to my taxes supporting these programs. My point was that although SBS staff mouth off at every opportunity about 'diversity' etc, they are not known for welcoming colleagues of the wrong ethnic group.

Yes I agree, Democracy is grand. I wouldnt live under any other system.

Posted by: dee at October 22, 2004 at 08:53 PM

Dee, you are a rampaging lunatic. 'All those Chinese and Spanish looking hosts' - you'd be talking about Lee Lin Chin? See, she's a talented newsreader, you mightn't have noticed that.

How do you feel about Mary Kostakidis? At least she's a 'white wog'. Same goes with Les Murray - at least his name is nice and Anglo for you. And Anton Enus - South African.

Mark Davis, Jenny Brockie - white as the driven. Three quarters of the 'Movie Show' hosts? White. Though the show is 25% more ethnic than under David and Margaret.

Safran? White.
Sandman? White.
Karaoke Challenge? White.

I'm an Anglo working at SBS and I've never once had a moment of racial tension in the workplace.

The fact is that the diversity of Australia's population is increasing all the time. SBS reflects this diversity in its programming and in its staff (although without pursuing 'affirmative action' or positive discrimination).

Please tell me more about my fellow employees who "are not known for welcoming colleagues of the wrong ethnic group"?

Posted by: An SBS Worker at October 24, 2004 at 05:20 PM

SBS does a great job - they can have my taxes any day.

The racist underpinnings of some of the comments here are just incredible. What is white, Anglo anyway? Study history guys, we've all be swapping genes for thousands of years.

And how about some praise for a brave Australian journo putting his live on the line to do his job ... to bring news stories into your loungerooms while you are comfy in your chair, slurping beer, burping and scratching. If you can't understand the nuances in what he said when he got back ... crawl back under a rock.

Posted by: klaatu69 at October 25, 2004 at 08:30 PM