Monday, March 24, 2008

U.S. Warship Kills Innocent Egyptian!! No Wonder Everybody Hates America!!!

("Global Patriot Reporting: Anti-American Bias? Could Be" (March 25, 2008) focuses on how Reuters and others handled the Global Patriot incident.)
People all around the world hate America. I keep reading that.

Specifically, they hate America because the American military goes around killing innocent people. I keep reading that, too.

Something happened very recently that's probably going to help people around the world keep hating America.

An American warship heartlessly gunned down an innocent Egyptian merchant who was just trying to sell cigarettes!!!!

Reality Check, Please:
Global Patriot in the Suez Something-or-Other

Fact: gunfire from a ship carrying the American flag in the Suez Gulf, or maybe Canal, killed Mohammed Fouad.

Also fact: it's early days, and news services don't seem to have their story straight yet. Except for the 'important' part, I suspect.
American Warship Guns Down Innocent Egyptian! Now That's News!
Let's see what the news has to say, headline and first three paragraphs of the four news articles I found earlier in Google's top 10, and the Google news search service. I used these search terms: ( Egypt "Global Patriot" Suez)
  1. "U.S. warship fires on Egyptian craft, killing one
    Reuters Africa (March 24, 2008)
    "A U.S. warship fired on a motor boat in the Gulf of Suez on Monday, killing one Egyptian and wounding two others, Egyptian security sources and witnesses said.
    "The U.S. ship Global Patriot fired on the Egyptian vessel after it ignored calls to stay away, the sources said.
    "The Egyptian vessel was carrying goods to sell to ships passing through the Suez Canal, a transit for U.S. ships heading to the Gulf, the sources said."
  2. "US-flagged ship involved in Suez canal shooting death: Egyptian officials"
    International Herald Tribune (March 24, 2008)
    "An Egyptian man was shot dead and two others wounded in an incident involving a U.S.-flagged cargo ship transversing the Suez Canal in the direction of the Mediterannean [!] Sea, reported security officials late Monday.
    "After sunset, a motor boat carrying three Egyptians approached the "Global Patriot" with the intent of selling products when the ship opened fire on it with tracer bullets killing Mohammed Fouad and wounding the other two occupants, said an Egyptian navy official on customary condition of anonymity.
    "A police official in Cairo, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident, adding that some hundred other boat vendors had since gathered near the cargo ship and were demanding an investigation into the shooting."
  3. "Egyptian killed by US military ship: security source"
    AFP (March 24, 2008)
    "A US military ship about to cross the Suez Canal opened fire Monday on barges of hawkers that approached their boat, killing one Egyptian and wounding two others, a security source said.
    "The ship, Global Patriot, had arrived from the Red Sea and was waiting in the Gulf of Suez to sail to the Mediterranean when a group of Egyptians seeking to sell merchandise approached the boat on small barges, the source said.
    "Americans on board told the barges to stop and opened fire when they continued to approach."
  4. "Egyptian killed by US warship: security source"
    IC Publications - AFRICAN BUSINESS NEW AFRICAN THE MIDDLE EAST (March 24, 2008) (or March 25, 2008 - both dates were associated with the article)
    "One Egyptian was killed and two wounded when a US military ship about to cross the Suez Canal opened fire on barges of hawkers that approached their boat on Monday, a security source told AFP.
    "The ship, Global Patriot, was preparing to travel from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean when a group of Egyptians seeking to sell merchandise approached the boat on small barges, the source said.
    "Americans on board told the barges to stop and opened fire when they continued to approach."
Let's see what they all have in common:
  • The ship
    • Sailed under the American flag
    • Was named Global Patriot
  • An Egyptian was killed
  • This happened in the Suez something - Gulf or Canal
  • Global Patriot's crew had communicated with the Egyptian's boat before opening fire
Here's where it gets interesting. The ship was first referred to variously, as:
  • "U.S. warship"
  • "US-flagged ship"
  • "US military ship"
  • "US warship"
Three out of four articles identify Global Patriot as an American military ship: a warship. 'Obviously,' this is yet another case of the uncaring, violent, dangerous American military going around, killing innocent civilians.
Global Patriot is a Warship? Let's Take a Closer Look
One of the news outlets, the International Herald-Tribune, had a reporter who did a little research. "There is a 'Global Patriot' registered to the New York-based Global Container Lines and, according to the company Web site, the vessel trades between the United States, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the East Africa."

Granted, a company representative didn't know about the incident, and neither did a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesperson. I don't think this indicates that the Global Patriot involved in the Mr. Fouad's death isn't the cargo ship registered to Global Container Lines. The last I heard, omniscience isn't part of American officer's training, and isn't required for civilian jobs, either.

The International Herald Tribune also reports that "the ship had sailed from Dubai and was transporting used military equipment." I suppose that a cargo ship carrying used military equipment could be considered a "warship:" as long as a semi trailer carrying used Corvettes could be considered a sports car.

By the way, the International Herald Tribune's is the only article that mentioned the name of the deceased: Mohammed Fouad.
What Was Mohammed Fouad doing in that boat?
Apparently, local merchants are in the habit of taking boats out to ships passing through Suez (Canal or Gulf), with the purpose of exchanging cigarettes and other items for foreign currency.

All the news articles agree that there was some sort of communication between Global Patriot's crew and Mr. Fouad's boat. It looks like they said "stop!" and instead of stopping, the boat kept coming. Then Global Patriot opened fire.

Now, I'm sorry that Mr. Foaud is dead. The thoughts and prayers of my family are with him and his survivors. But those news stories, with one exception, left out a very important detail.

It Was After Sunset When Foaud's Boat Made a Run at Global Patriot. Okay, 'didn't stop.' Take a look at the situation from the point of Global Patriot's senior officer on deck.

Here's a ship, in a part of the world where excitable people have been known to come up to foreigners and explode. It's after sunset. A boat is coming right for your ship. You tell it to stop. It doesn't. It keeps coming.

Remember the U.S.S. Cole? You may not, but I doubt that sailors in Middle Eastern waters have forgotten how a boat approached the Cole and blew up: leaving the Cole missing some of her hull, together with over a dozen of her crew.

In circumstances like that, with the prospect of getting up close and personal with high-velocity pieces of shredded hull, opening fire on an unknown craft which has demonstrated an unwillingness to communicate might not be the dumbest move possible.

One thing that bothers me is why Mr. Fouad's boat didn't stop. There are quite a few possibilities, including:
  • Nobody on the boat knew English (approaching a ship with an American flag, trying to sell something, without knowing English?!)
  • Everyone on the boat was deaf - and blind, so they couldn't see signals
  • The throttle stuck (so far, this is the least-unlikely explanation)
  • The people on the boat got into an argument, distracting them from Global Patriot's call to stop
  • Someone on the boat wanted Global Patriot to open fire
That last is, I think, a very real and quite terrible possibility.

Once in a while, here in America, someone will decide that his life isn't worth living. I'm not being sexist: it's nearly always a man. He confronts police, threatens someone, and does his level best to get shot. It's called "suicide by cop."

I don't think it's beyond belief that someone on Mr. Fouad's boat had decided to be a martyr, and discredit America in the process. If that's what happened, he's had help.

Why Will This Help People Hate America?

Because Global Patriot was a U.S. military ship. A warship. a US military ship. 'It must be true: they said so in the news.'

I know that news is a business, and that part of the idea is to make events as dramatic as possible.

But I'd say that calling what is probably a cargo ship a "warship" is sloppy reporting, at best. At worst, it's a deliberate attempt to whip up more anti-American sentiment.


Kanaba said...

Dear Sir,
Thanks for this interesting blog. I found your blog by chance while goodleing this recent incident in the Egyptian waters yesterday. I was actually searching "global patriot" to see what is the relationship between the US Navy and a cargo ship that belongs to NY-based company (Global Container Lines) as far as the news like BBC tells!
Well, I read your reflective analysis quickly I must say as I am in my office working, yet some of its content raised some questions like: why would you be interested in such an incident? Why you are linking this to hating or loving America? I did not get your point about is it a warship or a cargo thing carrying used weapons?!
Generally I read it as you are defending the position of the crew of the ship and you are questioning why Mr. Foad was approaching the ship?
Did you know that the brother of the dead said that there were no warnings, and the soldiers were drunk or something?!

To me, it could be anything from a military attack on a US Ship to a irresonsible act by some guards on board global patriot and it could have been also that those Egyptians were trying to sell cigarettes as most of the news pieces agreed too (and it seems to be a common practice in this part of the Canal/gulf)?!

I am personally feeling angry cause this poor man was killed and it does not seem to be enough information why was he killed from either sides, the Egyptian Gov. nor the US authorities either and there will not be any soon, I am sure (based on all the incident happened before, in Iraq's Fallujjah, Haditha, Baghdad and many more plus at least in Egypt; in Rafah [weeks ago a little girl was shot dead while standing among her parents and family by an Israeli snipper across the borders!!])
No investigation, no information, no punishment to the faulty, no justice!
Guess why? I think it might have to do with the massively militarized and hegemonic presence of the US troops in places they no right to be?! Not to mention an occupation of Palestinian lands by Israeli troops and supported by US politically and militarily.

I agree with you indeed that little research seems to have been done by reporters about this particular incident. Too bad indeed and I wish all do such a needed research.

(some news agency called the victim differently: "The official named the dead man as Mohammed Moqtar Afifi" AFP)
Have you read this also: "US says no casualties in Suez Canal shooting"
Thanks and have a good day

Anonymous said...

I'd be highly surprised if the crew were "drunk".

I've served on two US Navy guided-missile cruisers, REAL warships, and there isn't a drop of liquor to be found. Hell, I can't even hide porn in my locker.

Just the media doing a great job of making a story as dramatic as possible. People eat this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Thanks for your blog. But let me leave you with two comments to think about.

First, the "Global Patriot" was a container ship being used by US army contractors to transport equipment, with no markings whatsoever showing that this ship has anything to do with the US military. So I doubt that poor Mohamed Fouad in his tiny run-down boat (if you could even call it that) had the necessary intelligence to identify this ship as a US military ship.

My second point is as follows: Consider for a moment if the situations were reversed and this was an Egyptian military ship "accidently" killing an innocent American civilian in a boat that got too close by accident. How would the Bush administration respond to such an event? I only wonder....

Thank you for allowing us to comment on your blog post.


Anonymous said...

I am the Captian of a vessle in the gulf.
I have some boats aproaching my vessle.
I watch them closely.
They get uncomfortably close.
I tell them to leave.
Two of them do.
One does not but comes closer.
I fire some warning shots. Then they leave with one dead from a probable richochet off the water.
My options do not include letting them get close enough to blow up my ship.
So...What else am I to do?
The media is the same round the world. Full of half truths and outright lies. Whatever it takes to promote their own biased agenda. No suprise here at all.

Brian H. Gill said...

Kanaba, and the Anonymouses,

Thank you for these comments.

Kanaba - Everything I 'know' about the incident is what little was in those four news articles. The International Herald Tribune was the only one which identified Global Patriot as a probable cargo ship. And, more to the point, identified Mohammed Fouad by name. To the others Mr. Fouad was a generic Egyptian and victim of American military action.

I am truly sorry that Mohammed Fouad is dead. The thoughts and prayers of my family are, as I said before, with him and his survivors.

Now, about that post.

Re-reading it, I didn't do a very good job of making my point.

Instead of addressing all of your comments, I intend to make another (and shorter) post.

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