New York, March 26, 2004—An Iraqi translator working for the U.S.-based newsweekly Time died today after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds in Baghdad two days ago. Omar Kamal, who also worked as a fixer for the magazine, was shot and critically wounded driving his car on route to an assignment, said Time news director Howard Chua-Eoan. Kamal, who suffered serious head wounds, was taken off of life support yesterday. Chua-Eoan said the circumstances of the shooting were unclear, but that a number of Iraqis working for Time have received threats from a variety of sources.
The incident heightens concern for the safety of Iraqis working for international media in the country. On March 5, a freelance translator working for the U.S.-funded Voice of America (VOA), Selwan Abdelghani Medhi al-Niemi, was shot and killed in Baghdad along with his mother and five-year-old daughter. He had been driving home from a relative’s house. According to VOA, a motive has not been established.
Several sources have told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Iraqis working for international media have also received anonymous threats. These appear to be part of a larger effort by insurgents to intimidate Iraqis who work for foreign organizations, including Coalition-supported and private media. CPJ will continue to monitor developments regarding these threats to the media.