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Special Forces Rescue Peacenik “Human Shield”

But you'd never know that from our one party media.

The incident has gotten a little notice. The few reports there have been have played up the angle that nobody knew Sands had been snatched. Or that his rescue was just "dumb luck" on the part of the Americans.

Here is a typical account from the terrorist cheerleaders at UK's Guardian:

Americans save British hostage no one knew was missing

David Smith
Sunday January 15, 2006

A British man kidnapped in Iraq and held for five days by armed men who threatened to behead him was rescued last week by American special forces and astonished to discover that no one had noticed he was missing.

Phil Sands, 28, a freelance journalist, was held by gunmen who ambushed his car in Baghdad. He said the worst aspect of his ordeal was imagining the anguish of his family. But his parents were holidaying in Morocco and knew nothing of his sufferings until he called them after he was released during a chance raid by US forces on a farm outside Baghdad.

The rescue was a rare slice of good fortune in Iraq, where yesterday Rizgar Amin, chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein, quit in protest at pressure from the Iraqi government on his court, which has already seen two defence lawyers murdered and witnesses threatened.

For Sands, the escape came after he had surrendered all hope. 'I thought with absolute certainty, "I'm dead – it's now just a matter of the technical details,"' he told The Observer. 'I was strangely calm – there was no point in panicking.'

One of Sands's captors told him, in Arabic, that if he was a soldier, or helping the occupation, he would be beheaded. He was made to record a video urging the British people to remove Tony Blair from office. The same thing had happened to Ken Bigley, the hostage from Liverpool executed in Iraq in 2004.

But the US army, on a routine mission, came to the rescue. He recalled: 'I was in bed and heard helicopters, which I assumed would move on. But then there were footsteps and a banging at the door. It burst open and two young American soldiers came in with flashlights. They woke up my guard and shone a torch in my face. One of them said, "What the fuck?" I said: "I'm a Brit, dammit."'

He said he was not treated badly by his Sunni captors, who were arrested in the raid. He believes his driver and interpreter were also rescued but is still seeking confirmation.

Sands, from Poole, Dorset, has been to Iraq 10 times since February 2003, sometimes for three-month spells. On Boxing Day, shortly after 9.30am, he was blindfolded, handcuffed and forced into the boot of a BMW by men with balaclavas and AK-47 automatic rifles. 'I just knew I was dead, that I wouldn't get out alive. I began to think of my parents in Britain, how they would have to watch this on the news and what it would do to them. I felt I could cope with whatever happened to me; it was what they would go through that was unbearable.'

Sands's parents, David and Jackie, were in a state of blissful ignorance throughout, as were the authorities. They spoke to their son on Christmas Day, then went on holiday. David said last night: 'We were fortunate that we didn't go through the nail-biting anxiety of knowing he was missing. I feel fairly philosophical about it, and so does my wife. He loves that place and I'm sure he'll be going back.'

Despite Dad's remarks, Phil Sands is now talking about the horrors of his ordeal to all and sundry, including the Scotsman.

Still, in all of these news articles there is no mention of the apparently minor detail that Phil Sands originally went to Iraq to be a "human shield."

Behold this report from the March 17, 2003 edition of the Christian Science Monitor:

'Human shields' in tug-of-war

By Scott Peterson

"BAGHDAD, IRAQ – By day, the "human shield" volunteers have no shortage of antiwar activities: they march, light candles, give kites to kids, and play soccer with their Iraqi hosts.

But at night, for some, the doubt begins to gnaw. Hunkered down at nine sites around Baghdad waiting for American bombs to drop, they pray their presence will spare Iraqi civilians. They are gathered around oil facilities and food silos, as well as water-treatment and power plants"…

"In a way, it's unfortunate … because in this case my goal – stopping the war – coincides with the goal of someone else [Mr. Hussein], whom I don't want to be supporting," says Phil Sands, a former banker and journalist from Britain who gave up his job to come to Iraq. He now changes his mind daily on whether to stay or go. "It would be nice if there was clear blue water between us and them, and there hasn't been."

…Mr. Sands is troubled by the conflicting goals and propaganda. "In all our rooms, there is a picture of the great man – we sleep under him," says Sands, whose cot is in spartan staff residence house No. 37, at the Doura Oil refinery on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. Painted on the front patio in large letters are the words: "We are here."

"I don't want to die, I really don't," he says. "But every time I think I'm leaving, because I don't like the way things are slipping out of our control, you meet a few people in the street and think: 'That's the reason I came here.'"

And this report about our hero's subsequent departure, a mere ten days later:

"Human Shields" expelled from Iraq

by Shane Mulligan

In the past week we have had limited contact with the shields in Baghdad, as communications lines are essentially out. We have had reports from exiting shields and others, and no reports of injuries among shields. Uzma said last week that there were no longer any human shields at the Al Mamuun (Mimoun) Communications centre, which was targeted and possibly destroyed 28 March.

Phil Sands was among a number of shields expelled from Iraq on 28 March, as he was deemed a "security risk ". His diary of his last week in Iraq was published in the Independent on 30 March."

Funny how Sands never mentions his reason for going to Iraq now. Maybe he gained a different perspective on Saddam's supporters.

Too bad he couldn't find it in his heart to thank his saviors.

And too bad the media couldn't be bothered to report this ironic twist to the story.

(Much praise to ever-vigilant JohnX, who found the Sands – human shield nexus noted at Liberty1st Blog .)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, January 18th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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