Reporters on the Job
• Keeping a Low Profile: Threats and intimidation directed at foreigners are thick in Baghdad these days, says staff writer Dan Murphy. The community of contractors, aid workers, and journalists are on high alert because of the spate of kidnappings (page 1). People are increasingly checking over their security arrangements and limiting their travel to within the city limits. The hotel where Monitor staffers live and work is generally considered quite safe, because the roads around it are controlled by Iraq's Diplomatic Protection Service, deployed to look after the nearby Australian Embassy residence.
But on Tuesday, the Iraqi guards had their radio net hacked into by an unknown caller, and were threatened with death if they didn't abandon their posts that evening. "As it happened, they stuck around," says Dan. "But we had some anxious moments peering out of the window after night fell."
• Opening Up in Saudi: Correspondent Faiza Saleh Ambah has noticed a distinct shift in the Saudi government's attitude toward dealing with reporters and the public on the issue of terrorism (this page). "For years, I couldn't get a word out of the Interior Ministry. Now, they return phone calls, issue statements, and call reporters when there will be news. It's all quite new. Even the cops at checkpoints will talk to reporters now." Faiza says that the government has made a decision to enlist the public in the fight against Saudi militants. "Before, attacks were kept very hush hush. But these are now happening in the major cities, and they can't ignore or hide them." She notes that the government has also handed out booklets door to door, with color photos of suspected terrorists. "The descriptions are in English and Arabic, and include photos of suspects with beards, and without facial hair. They are offering rewards for information leading to the capture of suspected militants."
David Clark Scott