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Helping Jill interpret Iraq

Allan Enwiya, fatally shot during Jill Carroll's capture, is one of 26 media assistants killed since the war began.

By Compiled from Monitor staff reports / March 31, 2006



Allan Enwiya was one of at least 86 journalists and media assistants who have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war, according to the international organization Reporters Without Borders. Twenty-six of those were like Mr. Enwiya, the assistants doing one of the most dangerous and important jobs for news organizations covering Iraq.

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Often their stories, even their names, are untold. Enwiya's story is representative of why Iraqis are willing to take such risks by working with foreigners.

For some it's the chance to break into journalism, to be a part of telling their country's history. But for the majority - and Enwiya was one of these - it is a means for turning a prized talent, facility with English, into a job and a way to support a family in a difficult economy.

"His family was his top priority, and his kids were his life," says Carolyne Hanna, a cousin of Enwiya's now living in Chicago. "Sure, he did it for the money, but it was also something he liked that he was good at."

Enwiya, who was 32, and his wife, Fairuz, had two children - Martin and Mary Ann. Since his death in the Jan. 7 kidnapping of Jill Carroll, the family has left Iraq and is in the process of moving to the United States. Enwiya's parents are going with them.

While details of the abduction of Ms. Carroll are still unclear, the kidnapping occurred within 300 yards of the office of Adnan al-Dulaimi, a prominent Sunni politician, whom Carroll had been intending to interview.

One of the kidnappers pulled the driver from the car, jumped in, and drove away with several others huddled around Carroll and Enwiya, said the driver, who asked not to be identified. "They didn't give me any time to even put the car in neutral," he recounted.

Enwiya was later discovered in the same neighborhood. He had been shot twice in the head, law enforcement officials said.

Omar Fekeiki, an Iraqi who had known Enwiya since the late 1990s, was a college student when he first walked into a music shop that Enwiya kept open since last summer. "Allan needed to provide for his family, and what he was good at was the English language."

Now a special correspondent in Baghdad for The Washington Post, Mr. Fekeiki says, "For some of us, it's the chance to be a journalist that brings us in, but Allan wasn't like that. Like the doctors and pharmacists and engineers you see doing this job," he adds, "he used his skill to have a job and make a living."

According to Reporters Without Borders, thousands of Iraqis and more than 250 foreigners have been abducted.

"We thank all those throughout the world, particularly the major Arabic media, who campaigned for the release of this young journalist," the organization said Thursday. "Our campaign will not be over until the three Iraqi reporters, Rim Zeid, Marwan Khazaal, and Ali Abdullah Fayad have been released in their turn."

Ms. Zeid and Mr. Khazaal of the TV channel Al-Sumariya were kidnapped in Baghdad, on Feb. 1, 2006. Mr. Fayad was abducted in Kut, southeast of the capital on March 21, 2006.

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