October 21, 2004


Journalist John Martinkus explains the circumstances of his capture in Iraq:

JOHN MARTINKUS: What happened next confirmed all my worst fears. I had basically two armed gunmen from the first car trying to get into my vehicle. I was holding the doors shut and they were trying to pull it from the outside. Obviously, they were trying to get inside as soon as possible to get off the street. But also they were trying to subdue me, because I was like screaming at the driver to do something. And they basically yanked on the door so hard, and I was holding it, that the handle - it only gave way when the handle actually came off in my hand - and then ...

MARK DAVIS: They’re in.

JOHN MARTINKUS: ... they’re in. And what I did then was basically what I think anybody would do in that situation - I tried to wrestle with the guy. I tried to get his gun. I had both hands on top of his hands and I was forcing the gun down, into his crotch basically, and I was trying to shoot it because, as far as I could tell at that time, these guys were gonna kill me.


UPDATE. Tim Dunlop objects to "Hmmm".

Posted by Tim Blair at October 21, 2004 04:25 PM

My thoughts exactly. Hmmm.

Posted by: Dean McAskil at October 21, 2004 at 04:44 PM

Forget the hmmmmm - this is a load of bollocks. Wrestle the gun my fetid ass. Like the rest of us he would have been pleading for his life.

Posted by: Margo's First XVIII at October 21, 2004 at 04:50 PM

But then they got to know and love him.

Posted by: TT at October 21, 2004 at 04:51 PM

I hope Downer's office is going through his story line by line to see if it checks out. And why do I think there'll be no video released? Because there IS no video?

Posted by: Big E at October 21, 2004 at 04:53 PM

There are two guys. They're both armed. They're in the car. He wrestles with one of them, trying to get his gun--and the other one sits there twiddling his free thumb? Whistling Dixie? Hmmmm

Posted by: elly at October 21, 2004 at 04:54 PM

It's like a Kung Fu movie. The bad guys always wait their turn.

Posted by: truss at October 21, 2004 at 05:14 PM

Nice to know your in touch with your human side Tim.

A journalist who's got the guts to get out of his armchair and actually visit the place, gets attacked, thinks he might be killed because they're, y'know, Iraqi insurgents with guns. Tries however vainly to defend himself, to live, and all you can say is Hmmmmm.

If its not on Google you don't believe it right?

Posted by: Rex at October 21, 2004 at 05:19 PM

Rex — Ever get in a fight with a gang, let alone an armed gang? I'd trade hmmmmm for an riiiiiiiight...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at October 21, 2004 at 05:21 PM

Things that make you go hmmm...
He's got "both hands" on the gunman's hands, but is simultaneously trying to "shoot (the gun)". With what? His big toe?

I appreciate full well how hard it can be to give an accurate account of a moment of violent action, but...hmmm...

Posted by: cuckoo at October 21, 2004 at 05:28 PM

Gee, Rex, are you using the chickenhawk argument? I'm sure those hostages with their heads cut off would appreciate your approach.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 21, 2004 at 05:28 PM

I do love the chickenhawk meme being brought up by people whose most precious moment of bravery likely is how they were sticking it to the The Man in a demonstration by 23 people organized by ANSWER. Or what's your credentials, Rex?

And what will ya do if Martinkus' story in fact turns out to be only so much bullshit? Go to Iraq yourself and let yourself be abducted for a day or two? Of course, if they google for you, they're liable to find your posts here and cut your head off as a mercy killing. (I'm being cynic.) And Martinkus would approve, since they'd at least "have a reason", right?

Posted by: PW at October 21, 2004 at 05:47 PM

If the shoe fits....

Posted by: Rex at October 21, 2004 at 05:54 PM

Well, ramming a gun into an Arab's dick is pretty provocative, not to mention kinky. Did he say: "Suck on this, baby!"? Real hero.

Posted by: mr magoo at October 21, 2004 at 05:56 PM

Here's part of the reason not to trust John Martinkus.

He's not trustworthy.

In case the link doesn't work go to the Belmont Club.

Posted by: Birkel at October 21, 2004 at 05:56 PM

Oh boy, I shouldn't have googled for Rex...now I feel eerily confirmed in my "mercy killing" hunch. Except that Rex is afraid of Howard voters, not terrorists.

Posted by: PW at October 21, 2004 at 06:03 PM

this story is already starting to unravel. First his hotel was across the road from the embassy then it was just in the same area. then he stated that he was kidnapped out the front of his hotel now it is on a different road and around the corner. I smell a rat with a skunk story.

Posted by: gd at October 21, 2004 at 06:43 PM

Can you smell what Martinkus has got cookin'?

Yep - Bullshit

All he needed was a witty remark aka Die Hard except he could have said "Yom Kippur, mother fucker"

Posted by: assfunk at October 21, 2004 at 07:14 PM

Nice catch, PW.

I LOVE the Internet.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at October 21, 2004 at 07:29 PM

Well basically I was basically being who I am basically doing the journo thing so 's I could basically get a basic base for a story

Posted by: Rose at October 21, 2004 at 07:36 PM

Give him a break, folks. After seeing what usually happens to hostages, it makes sense to resist being taken in the first place. He was probably just following Mark Steyn's advice.

Posted by: Big Johnny at October 21, 2004 at 07:56 PM

good link.
Is SBS paying its Jizya thru Martinkus? perhaps Dhimmitued is not enough.
Sounds like the PLO "influencing" western reporters saga in ramallah again.
Write what we say or get thrown out.

Posted by: davo at October 21, 2004 at 08:02 PM

A little more conspiracy theory.
Martinkus' link to human shield (google it)
What if the same "insurgeants" who "kidnapped" the Australian girl and "released" her were involved.
Human shield kidnap part 11

Posted by: davo at October 21, 2004 at 08:10 PM

One question that comes to mind from that interview is what happened to his driver and translator?

He says the captors were more aggressive towards them then him but says at the end of the interview 'Luckily after he left, my original captors released me, so I never got the answer from him.' Has their fate been reported by anyone?

Posted by: Robin Wade at October 21, 2004 at 08:17 PM

"I was not hurt and treated with respect once they established my credentials as an independent journalist who did not support the occupation," the SBS filmmaker told Reuters.

How can you be similtaneously "independent" and "not support the occupation."? Either you're a journalist doing your job objectivley by being politically neutral, or you're a partisan hack.

If there was any doubt about that, Martinkus laid it to rest by demanding that Downer should apologise to him personally.

Posted by: Peter Ness at October 21, 2004 at 09:46 PM

Robin, very good question.

What happened to his driver and translator? Does he know? or care?

Posted by: EvilPundit at October 21, 2004 at 09:53 PM

I believe that his kidnap and release were thought out before they captured him. They followed him for 3 days they know he's a tool, they say they'll release him only to tell him they have second thoughts because he is Austalian. But these 'thinking' and 'reasonable' people release him anyway. Is there a tool of the year award? Having said tha, I wouldn't be surprised if he was in on it either. Anyone justifying the mad Mullah's can also justify lying to further their cause.

Posted by: Melanie at October 21, 2004 at 10:52 PM

But then they got to know and love him..... In a deep and physical way, I would say. I hope he packed mouthwash. What's the betting his "kidnappers" were the same Wahabbi Welcome Wagon that grabbed Donna mulhearn in Felluja, and quickly turfed her out the door of a speeding car when they found even a dishtowel and fanbelt lashed firmly around your head can't blot out the sound of shrill self-righteousness? I'd say Martinkus proceeded to extoll his view on global capitalism, and decamped as the poor befuddled bedouins lapsed into comas. They sure as hell weren't the tonsorial terrorists who've grabbed every other poor bastard in the Babylonian Bedlam. Mind you, if they had've sawn off his head, he'd have a big future in SBS management, possibly in programme purchasing.

Posted by: Habib at October 21, 2004 at 11:57 PM
What happened to his driver and translator?

I suspect they were urgently recording everything that was was happening on a 1973 typewriter with a Times New Roman proportional font.

This whole story reminds me of an interview Phillip Adams did on Late Night Live back in the 1990's with a leftie Australian artist who had spent time with a "Palestinian" family. As the Aussie artist told it, the matriarch of this family had come to the aid of a panicky Jewish woman who had gotten lost on the West Bank and stumbled into an arab area. The "Palestinian" woman guided the Jewish woman back to the door of the Jewish woman's home, whereupon the Jewish woman slammed the door on the "Palestinian", somehow breaking both her arms in the process. Despite this, the "Palestinian" woman, displaying the saintliness for which "Palestinians" are famous, bore no grudges and said she would do it again. The leftie artist clearly believed every word, and seemed very moved by this highly plausible story. One can only imagine how moved he would be by Martinkus's heroics.

Posted by: Clem Snide at October 22, 2004 at 12:06 AM

A question Mark Davis should possibly have asked during Martinkus's description of his car being approached by apparent kidnappers:

"Why didn't you lock the doors?"

Also, his account of the door struggle is question-worthy. Where were his attackers gripping the door that gave them such purchase? And how were they able to wrest the door open with one hand holding a weapon?

More hmmm.

Posted by: tim at October 22, 2004 at 12:13 AM

My favorite is this:
"They were Iraqi mujaheddin, they weren’t Arabs, they weren’t criminals."
Sure. They were probably jazz dancers, or perhaps retail salesclerks, or maybe even UN election observers. But certainly not criminals. You can't say that everyone who forcibly abducts people at gunpoint is a criminal. That would be very insensitive to their non-criminal activities, like videotaping beheadings, etc.

Posted by: Rob at October 22, 2004 at 12:27 AM

Dateline is a disgrace. Davis is a jerk, Martinkus a dick. Remember, it was Davis who ran the story about the Zimbabwe opposition leader conspiring to murder Mugabe, leading to trumped-up treason charges against the opposition pol (recently thrown out by the unusually brave members of the Zimbabwe high court). You can't believe anything you hear or say from these guys - they are junk journalists extraordinaire who try to give themselves some credibility by filing their stories from exotic and dangerous places. When will Paul McGeough turn up on Dateline to talk about the global media conspiracy against his Allawi-the-executioner story?

Posted by: Mike at October 22, 2004 at 12:30 AM

Martinkus and Donna Mulhearn certainly know each other. And Donna Mulhearn's kidnapping was certainly phony. According to this intriguing reflection on the phony hostage phenomenon, the former Labor party activist and antiwar protester is acquainted with an amazing number of Iraqi "kidnapping" victims--all of whom managed to convince their captors that they were basically nice people (as nice as their captors, really) and should be let go.
"It looks like all of these aid workers/journalists know each other. Donna Mulhearn knew the Simonas. Donna Mulhearn knew Nahoko. Jo Wilding who was kidnapped with Donna reported that she knew James Brandon."

Posted by: alangee at October 22, 2004 at 01:06 AM

Fuck you, Tim

If you had the guts to go there, on the spot, and report from Iraq, then you'd have some credibility in order to dispute Martinkus's version of events.

Hell, I'd be satisfied if you managed to round up one source.

As it is you're a gutless wonder with no facts on his hands, smearing a reporter who, unlike you, has made the effort to get out there and find the story.

Posted by: Jason Stokes at October 22, 2004 at 01:36 AM

How did these "insurgents" get access to Google, anyway?

And, Jason Stokes, are you familiar with what "Journalist" John Martinkus' network produces? Do a little research, and you'll find the familiar leftist/jihadist screed - "It's all about the jooooooooooooossss..."

Posted by: Don Mynack at October 22, 2004 at 01:45 AM

If you google John Martinkus you will find heaps on his pro East Timor and West Papua stance. We all know Osama bombed Bali for the work our troops did in East Timor - so how come the hostage takers didn't behead him for that?

Posted by: pat at October 22, 2004 at 01:52 AM

So, did he yell, "Hey, terrorists! Terrorize this!" as he wrestled for the gun?

Posted by: richard mcenroe at October 22, 2004 at 01:57 AM

Fuck you Jason,

Toolbag Martinkus did not go over to find the story he went over to MAKE the story.

Posted by: jonathan at October 22, 2004 at 01:59 AM

You beat me to it Pat. I posted basically the same sentiment at dhimmiwatch. I mean, read this review and then tell me that the Islamofascists would have fallen in love with him.
Also read this
Time to start up the Kemper

Posted by: tipper at October 22, 2004 at 02:09 AM

Funny how McGeough was due to return to Oz and he comes up with his Allawi the assassin story and just as Martinkus was about to return to Oz he gets a big story about his own kidnapped adventure.

Posted by: pat at October 22, 2004 at 02:10 AM

And fuck Les Ketchum, too!

Posted by: Son of a Pig and a Monkey at October 22, 2004 at 02:17 AM

Did anyone see SBS's Dateline puff piece on the PKK on Wednesday night?

It talked about PKK being for equality of men and women - what they didn't mention was that the PKK has raised money from pimping.

It let PKK members talk about not having schools or roads - but doesn't mention that the PKK has destroyed schools.

Posted by: Andjam at October 22, 2004 at 02:26 AM


Do you also hold the opinion of Fox News reporters in Iraq to be above criticism? I mean, they're there, man. So don't you dare question them, mmm-kay?

Posted by: tim at October 22, 2004 at 02:27 AM

Hi tipper,

I like dhimmiwatch and am impressed that you post to it - good on ya.

I've posted on Martinkus at my blog m4monologue.

I don't believe Martinkus for a minute. This story of his sounds like a setup. Read this to see where Martinkus is coming from.

Posted by: pat at October 22, 2004 at 02:29 AM

That last link should have been this.

Posted by: pat at October 22, 2004 at 02:31 AM

dammit: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01juldirty.htm

cut and paste gahhh!

Posted by: pat at October 22, 2004 at 02:33 AM

The story strikes me as very self-serving. He has provided himself with credibility for the stories he has written and will write.

He says he is alive because he was able to convince his captors that: "I was trying to report the truth of what was going on.". His captors found (and presumably read) his work via Google. His freedom is proof that they found what he'd written to be truthful.

He also lets us know that 'Iraqi Resistance Fighters' can be reasonable and will let you live as long as you can prove to them you don't work for the coalition. Presumably all the other people who have had their throats slit have been in, or were thought to have been in, the employ of the coalition or they ran into some other group who wasn't as reasonable as the 'Iraqi Resistance Fighters'.

So, what I've gleaned from his capture and release story is that he's an honest reporter who is telling us the *real* story of what's happening in Iraq and that there are 'Iraqi Resistance Fighters' who are fighting against the occupation of their country.

I'm not saying I believe him, it's just that this is what I understand his capture and release story to be about. It provides him with credibility for the stories he writes about Iraq.

It's possible it all happened just as he said it did. It just seems so implausible the way he tells it. Too many holes.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at October 22, 2004 at 03:06 AM

Watch the video of him arriving back in Oz. Just another day at the office for mr cool from coolsville Martinkus. Compare it to what he says in the dateline interview.

If I had just been reprieved like he says he was I'd be shittin bricks for a fortnight. Not Martinkus though. Hmmmm

Posted by: pat at October 22, 2004 at 03:20 AM

Well, at least he didn't arrange his own kidnapping like those Italian chicks.

He didn't, did he????????????????

Posted by: jlchydro at October 22, 2004 at 03:34 AM

"And what I did then was basically what I think anybody would do in that situation - I tried to wrestle with the guy."

Um, no. Actually, I would have taken out my 9mm, and shot him dead.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that people wandering aroung Iraq UNARMED are asking for trouble?

Posted by: DWC at October 22, 2004 at 07:27 AM

Heh. Its sad though. Some people actually swallow all of that, then turn around and tell me not to believe everything I read. I say his comments on the other hostages (who died) are disgusting, and Im told he's probably being 'taken out of context'.
I argued on this for quite a while last night with my girlfriend. One of her friends actually said this to me:
"He wasn't taken by terrorists, he was taken by rebels. That's why they didn't kill him."
I guess civilians are officially on the 'ok' list now.

Posted by: ken at October 22, 2004 at 08:08 AM

Why cant I believe this jackass?

Posted by: Drftrx at October 22, 2004 at 12:28 PM

If Martinkus had claimed that the moon is made of cheese, Jason Stokes would be saying that only astronomers and astronauts have the credibility to be questioning that claim. And maybe dairy farmers.

(Gotta love reductio ad absurdum...)

Posted by: PW at October 22, 2004 at 12:46 PM

My favorite comment on Dunlop's site is the one from our old pal Nemesis, who quavers "Careful, boys and girls - I'm sure Fraulein Andrea can work out some devilish way to ban you all from this site too!" He seems to think that my powers extend over websites I don't have administrative privileges on.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 22, 2004 at 02:25 PM

Scene: Journo and escort in car with driver.
Two armed guys try to open car door(s).

Q1: Why did driver not yell, "Down!" and floor it.
Q2: Why did escort not engage bad guys with weapon (if escort did not carry weapon, escort = useless dickhead).
Q3: If journo is trying to disarm Bad Guy #1, why did Bad Guy #2 not shoot journo's brains out?
Q4: Given history of Islamic-type Bad Guys, as soon as journo resisted, why did BG#1 and BG#2 not simply back off a metre or two and empty their AK-47 mags into journo, escort and driver?

Answer to all above: (a)It was a set-up, or (b) it never happened.

My money's on (b).

Posted by: Jim Riley at October 22, 2004 at 02:41 PM

Heh! I like the designation this blog gets over at Dunlops -- we are the "101st Keyboarders". I wonder....does that make Dunlop's posters part of the 257th People's Motorized Keyboard Division?

Comrade! Hurry! We need that optical mouse to defeat the RWDB!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 22, 2004 at 03:00 PM

So "basically" we don't believe him. Will the mainstream media follow this up? After all he was kidnapped "across the road from the Australia Embassy". Practically Australian territory.

There must be witnesses. What were the names of the driver and translator? Surely they can be contacted or their families. Presumably they either were released and can verify the kidnapping or are still captive and their families/friends will be worried sick? What was the car? The handles were ripped off and presumably it was left in the street across from the Australian embassy. I would think the embassy guards would have an interest in an abandoned car across the street (remember Jakarta, Bali?). There should be a record of such a car or maybe it was stolen by the kidnappers?

It really should take one interview and a few phone calls to clear this all up.

Posted by: Allan at October 22, 2004 at 03:22 PM

"It really should take one interview and a few phone calls to clear this all up."

Correct, Allan. One way or the other.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 22, 2004 at 03:45 PM

Q3: If journo is trying to disarm Bad Guy #1, why did Bad Guy #2 not shoot journo's brains out?

Well, after Bad Guy #2 pickpocketed Martinkus' wallet and ID, he was busy googling for the guy's name on his PDA...

Posted by: PW at October 22, 2004 at 08:08 PM

If you had ever been in a sticky situation tim,then believe me you would try and get the gun.
Why would martinkus lie about this-it is a natural reaction for a man with guts.It would be unaustralian to roll over-wouldn't it?
I have a friend who has recently returned from the green zone-she is one of these guns for hire.
She says that the US forces are stuffed and the whole situation is stuffed-still what would someone who is actually on the ground know-eh tim?
Look forward to both you and downer booking tickets to baghdad to find out for yourselves-what about it?
It is so easy to be an armchair general-we had heaps of them before the war telling us what a cakewalk it was going to be.
I'll say it again tim-go and find out for yourself,or perhaps it is a bit dangerous for you.
I have been in sticky situations in the third world and belive me you will go for the gun everytime.

Posted by: marklatham at October 22, 2004 at 09:52 PM

Awwkay, is there anyone who can defend Martinkus' story without resorting to a variation of the chickenhawk meme? I mean, marklatham, you're like number four who has tried that since Tim first highlighted the story.

Add this to Dave S.' observation about lefties' inability to make any kind of argument that doesn't include a slam of Fox News, I guess...anybody have other additions to this budding new drinking game?

Posted by: PW at October 22, 2004 at 10:23 PM

Who the hell is Les Ketchum? If any one knows him- please advise him that he just made my top
10 sh*theads 0f 2004 list.

Posted by: okimutt at October 23, 2004 at 01:19 AM

Martinkus has been reading too much Ted Rall. Remember rall's taxi fantasy?

Posted by: chuck at October 23, 2004 at 02:53 AM

It is so easy to be an armchair general-we had heaps of them before the war telling us what a cakewalk it was going to be. -- marklatham

The war was a cakewalk. The occupation is always going to be a b----. And I do not doubt that grabbing for a gun would be a natural reaction. The point here is that the whole story is not really passing the smell test. It all could have really happened, and in truth the onus is on us to prove him wrong.

Now a liberal would say: "It's not the proof, but the seriousness of the charge that makes this so important." I think we can both disagree to that now can't we?

I just find it strange for this Bagdad Catch and Release policy.

Posted by: jungus at October 23, 2004 at 05:12 AM

Compare and contrast the Care woman who has lived in Iraq for 30 years doing medical work, with the support of many Iraqis, now begging for her life in front of the camera and the quick release of a "useful" journalist. Sort of sums up relative worth I guess.

Posted by: TT at October 23, 2004 at 09:27 AM

Tim Dunlop's gotta be a girly-bot that just generates automatic responses to certain terms and themes it digs up online.

Posted by: Billy Bob at October 23, 2004 at 02:23 PM

So "basically" we don't believe him. Will the mainstream media follow this up? After all he was kidnapped "across the road from the Australia Embassy". Practically Australian territory.

The main stream media has already stopped talking about Martinkus.
They know better.
At one point he says I cannot understand Arabic and then he says :
"So, you know, I actually thought they might be making a demand to release some prisoners or, you know, demand for ransom or something like that. But it was interesting, because they immediately told me almost as soon as they got into the car that they were not after money. They wanted to interrogate me and they told me not to panic."
..not to panic aha no problem.
And I suppose the translator was just doing his job (interpreting) while this arshole was wrestling his kidnapper.

Furthermore, if the Iraqi "patriots" really checked him (Martinkus) using Google they would've found his involvement in East Timor (he was for free East Timor before the Australian Government got actually involved).

Posted by: Felis at October 23, 2004 at 10:32 PM