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The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [2:185]
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  1. #1
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    Arrow Reporter Working for Times Abducted and Slain in Iraq

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    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 19 - An Iraqi journalist and photographer working for The New York Times in Basra was found dead early Monday after being abducted from his home by a group of armed men wearing masks and claiming to be police officers, relatives and witnesses said.

    The journalist, Fakher Haider, 38, was found with his hands bound and a bag over his head in a deserted area on the outskirts of Basra, in southern Iraq, hours after being taken from his house in that city. A relative who viewed his body in the city morgue said he had at least one bullet hole in his head and bruises on his back as if he had been beaten.

    Mr. Haider had worked for The Times since April 2003 and had recently reported on the growing friction and violence among Basra's rival Shiite militias, which are widely believed to have infiltrated the police.

    He did part-time for work for other news organizations, including Merbad TV, a local Basra station, and for publications including The Guardian of London and National Geographic. But his principal affiliation was with The Times.

    "This murder of a respected colleague leaves us angry and horrified," said Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times. "Fakher was an invaluable part of our coverage for more than two years. His depth of knowledge, his devotion to the story and his integrity were much admired by the reporters who worked with him."

    Mr. Haider is the second journalist to be killed in Basra in the past two months. In August, Steven Vincent, an American freelance reporter who was writing a book about the city, was abducted along with his Iraqi interpreter, and he was later found dead. The interpreter remains hospitalized.

    Days earlier, Mr. Vincent had written an Op-Ed article for The Times in which he criticized the British security forces in the city for failing to act against the Shiite militias' growing power within the local police force.

    Basra has grown increasingly violent, with a complex web of sectarian agendas playing itself out almost daily on the streets. Insurgents continue to attack Shiite civilians and military patrols, while Shiite militias fight among themselves and, recently, with British troops as well.

    On Sunday, Mr. Haider filed reports about angry demonstrations that had broken out after the arrest by British forces of two high-ranking members of the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to the renegade Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

    Shortly after midnight, two cars, one of them an unmarked sedan, one a police car, were driven up to Mr. Haider's apartment building, according to witnesses who said they could not be identified without jeopardizing their lives.

    Efforts to reach the Basra police on Monday were not successful. Police officials tend to rely on cellphones, which are often unreliable between Basra and Baghdad.

    Three of the men, carrying AK-47 assault rifles, entered the apartment building as frightened neighbors emerged from their homes, said Mr. Haider's wife, Intisar Abbas Hamza, in a telephone interview. They then entered the apartment and ransacked it, she said.

    The gunmen took Mr. Haider's telephones, his pistol and some videotapes, Ms. Hamza said. As they prepared to leave with Mr. Haider, they told her they were only going to interrogate him for a few hours and bring him back, she said.

    Mr. Haider told his wife not to worry, and then quickly wrote down the phone number of a friend and fellow journalist. He told his wife to tell the friend to call the Basra governor's office. The gunmen were standing by at the time, Ms. Hamza said.

    In recent months, Mr. Haider had confided to friends that he was worried about the increasingly violent atmosphere in Basra. In July, gunmen in a pickup truck chased his car and fired at him, and he narrowly escaped after driving off the road and firing his pistol into the air, he told a friend.

    A lean man with a quiet voice and a shy, curious smile, Mr. Haider was a Shiite and a member of the Tamimi tribe. Although his English was limited, he was brave and resourceful in his work with reporters. His extensive tribal connections were a great advantage in his journalistic work, both in Basra and in the marshes of southeastern Iraq.

    Mr. Haider, who was born in Basra, fought in the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein after the Persian Gulf war. He said that he later escaped to Kuwait and was lucky to avoid being killed when Mr. Hussein's forces regained control of southern Iraq.

    During the uprising, Mr. Haider risked his life to help the daughter of a local Baath Party official secure a decent burial for her brother, who had been killed by rebelling Shiites. After the Baathists returned to power, the official spared his life for that reason, Mr. Haider said.

    Before starting his work for The Times in 2003, Mr. Haider worked for years at a fertilizer factory in Basra, said his brother, Muhammad Haider. In addition to his wife, Mr. Haider is survived by three children, ages 5, 7 and 9.

    Ali Adeeb, Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedy and Qais Mizher contributed reporting for this article.

    Fakher Haider, 38, in an undated photo taken at the airport in Basra, Iraq. Mr. Haider's body was found yesterday morning

    rest in peace. :wilted_ro

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    Re: Reporter Working for Times Abducted and Slain in Iraq


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