Life Imitates Science Fiction
The latest terrorist tactic in Iraq is assassination of intellectuals:
I'm reminded of the SF story “State of Assassination” by Poul Anderson, in which assassination replaced war. At first, only major political figures were targeted but it then extended to anybody with brains.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 6 — Abdul al-Latif al-Mayah was never safe. Not before the war started, and not after.
A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Mayah, a 53-year-old political scientist and human rights advocate known in his neighborhood here as "the professor," was driving to work when eight masked gunmen jumped in front of his car. They yanked him into the street, the police said, and shot him nine times in front of his bodyguard and another university lecturer.
In an instant, he became one of hundreds of intellectuals and midlevel administrators who Iraqi officials say have been assassinated since May in a widening campaign against Iraq's professional class.
"They are going after our brains," said Lt. Col. Jabbar Abu Natiha, head of the organized crime unit of the Baghdad police. "It is a big operation. Maybe even a movement."
These white-collar killings, American and Iraqi officials say, are separate from — and in some ways more insidious than — the settling of scores with former Baath Party officials, or the singling-out of police officers and others thought to be collaborating with the occupation. Hundreds of them have been attacked as well in an effort to sow insecurity and chaos.
But by silencing urban professionals, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman for the occupation forces, the guerrillas are waging war on Iraq's fledgling institutions and progress itself. The dead include doctors, lawyers and judges.
"This works against everything we're trying to do here," the general said.