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Re: [casi-analysis] Baghdad Bulletin - a reply- again!

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Dear List,

I am coming back to this subject even though Mike
Lewis, the CASI-analysis moderator has explained the

This is an article from the Scotsman about Richard
Wild to whom Line Thomsen referred in the original
message. I thought it would be important to post it to
shed some light on the happenings surrounding the
death of Richard Wild.


Sat 17 Jul 2004
Was our son murdered by the CIA?


IT HAS been a difficult month for Robin and Daphne
Wild. In July last year, their son Richard was
murdered in Iraq, shot in the back of the head as he
crossed the road in Baghdad.

Since then, the parents of the Cambridge University
graduate have tried to piece together the events of
that day. Mr and Mrs Wild - who feel they have been
hindered, rather than helped, by the Foreign Office at
every turn - have come to a startling conclusion; they
believe their sonís murder was ordered by the CIA.

The Wilds are intelligent, educated people, not
generally given to conspiracy theories or flights of
fancy. The tale of their horrendous year is told in
simple, moving terms, with a constant air of disbelief
at what has happened.

"We are not naive, we know unpalatable things are
done," says Mrs Wild. "But when you are drawn into it,
it is terrifying."

She is shivering as she speaks, as a squally wind and
heavy mist casts a summer chill over the Wildsí
baronial home in the shadow of the Eildon hills in the
Scottish Borders. As she wonders if she should light a
fire, Mrs Wild recalls how different things were last

"It was blazing hot and everyone was outside, hunting
for shade," she remembers. Richard had come home for a
few days and the family spent many fruitless hours
trying to dissuade him from going to Iraq. It was his
first foreign trip as a freelance journalist and his
parents were alarmed. "He wouldnít listen to us," says
Mr Wild.

Mrs Wild was irritated by her sonís stubbornness, but
the family still had a very happy few days before he
left. "One afternoon, it was very warm and I was
having a nap at the bottom of the garden. Richard and
a girlfriend were walking round, laughing. There was a
heavy scent of roses and I thought, ĎEnjoy this day,
hold on to it, remember ití."

Two weeks later, Richard was dead. He was 24.

The youngest of the Wildsí three children enjoyed a
gilded youth: dux of the local prep school, head boy
at Sedbergh School, a good degree from Jesus College,
Cambridge. He was also a talented sportsman, tall,
handsome and effortlessly popular with a huge circle
of friends.

An early flirtation with investment banking and a
short spell at Sothebyís left him unfulfilled. He
decided he wanted to be a journalist, badgering news
organisations and writing articles. He spent six
months at ITN working as a logger - monitoring hours
of TV footage from the Gulf war - and made himself

Last spring, he began making plans to go to Iraq. His
parents insist he was not a gung-ho war junkie, but
was more interested in covering the aftermath of the
war. Richard spent a small fortune on kit - video
camera, laptop, satellite phone - and hitched a lift
with the BBC from Amman to Baghdad. His death made
news, but he wasnít the first journalist to die; the
story ran for a day, some papers carried a report of
his funeral and that was it.

Mr and Mrs Wild heard about their sonís death in a
late-night Foreign Office call. "We were told he had
been surrounded by an angry mob and shot. They have
never presented us with new information; we have had
to put the pieces together ourselves," says Mr Wild.

"There was no equivocation [from] the Foreign Office,"
his wife continues. "They seemed to have a very clear
idea of what had happened and so of course we believed
it, absolutely. We had no reason to question what we
were being told."

Initially, the Wilds believed Richard died
immediately. They later discovered that a young Iraqi
medical student went to his aid. "Somehow he managed
to get Richard to a hospital; Richard was in a very
bad way but still breathing," says Mr Wild. "But
no-one came to help Richard and maybe itís as well -
there would have been no quality of life."

The Wilds, both 63, understand the assassin parked in
the university car park and waited for Richard to come
out of the natural history museum. He crossed to the
taxi rank where Richard was standing and shot him in
the back of the head, then walked into a crowd and

Shortly after Richard was shot, two British
journalists - Michael Burke, an independent TV
producer for whom Richard was working two days a week,
and Lee Gordon - arrived at the British office in
Baghdad to report the incident. "They werenít even let
into the building; all they got was a brusque exchange
over the intercom," says Mrs Wild. "The official said
they knew about the shooting, but said it had nothing
to do with them. Richard, they were told, had been in
the army so they should be told about it."

Mrs Wild is outraged by this: "In 1996, he had a gap
year commission which involved a short time at
Sandhurst and being a platoon commander for six months
- hardly an army career."

Beneath the outward composure as the Wilds tell their
story is a seething anger at the way they have been
treated. In the immediate aftermath of his death, Mrs
Wild publicly railed against her sonís foolhardiness
in going to Iraq, saying it was "no place for a
rookie". Now her anger is directed at the government.

"We donít expect to ever know the whole story - and we
wonít spend the rest of our lives trying to," says Mrs
Wild. "But we wanted people to know that the story the
Foreign Office gave us was not the truth."

They say the repatriation of Richardís body was
handled incompetently - and when he was finally flown
home, there was more heartbreak. "We discovered that
he had lain, unrefrigerated, in the Baghdad heat for
ten days - for a mother to discover that her child was
actually left to rot is something almost too cruel to
bear," says Mrs Wild.

The Wilds buried their son in a small country
churchyard close to home and were trying to adjust to
life without him when their lives were turned upside
down again last autumn. They were contacted by Michael
Burke, who had returned from Iraq with some of
Richardís possessions. He suggested a meeting and the
Wilds saw him at Euston station; they were surprised
at Mr Burkeís insistence that their conversation
should not be overheard. Mr Wild recalls: "We were
sitting in that glorious pale autumn sunlight and for
the next two hours, we heard things that made hair on
the back of our necks stand up."

As a former chief dental officer for England and
Wales, Mr Wild "knows how things work"; yet even he
could barely believe what Mr Burke - who had spoken to
eyewitnesses - told him. "Far from being picked off on
the spur of the moment by a mob, we were being told
our son had been assassinated. He had not been in
Baghdad long but he was asking questions, rocking the
boat, maybe making himself unpopular. As a journalist
he was not Ďon messageí. We think he knew something
that could have destabilised, or certainly
embarrassed, the coalition and thatís why he was

More than this, the Wilds have resigned themselves to
never finding out. They will not spend the rest of
their lives campaigning and harrying government for
answers. "Political assassinations involve cover-ups,"
says Mrs Wild. "We do not have the resources to find
out exactly what went on, but we have certainly found
out more than we were told."

They are relieved to hear that Yunis Kuthair, a
freelance Iraqi journalist who had been investigating
Richardís death, has been released from Abu Ghraib
prison, but whether he, or anyone, will ever be able
to shed more light on Richardís death, they donít
know. Through the Rory Peck Trust - established in
memory of the freelance cameraman killed during the
coup in Moscow ten years ago - they have met the
families of other young Britons whose lives have been
cut short, some in suspicious circumstances.

That has eased some of the pain, but the anger at the
official handling of Richardís death will never
completely abate. The Wilds were shocked to hear that
the Foreign Office admitted initial reports about
Richardís death had been "misleading" but were
delivered in good faith.

The Foreign Office also claimed to have given the
family new information when it came to light. "That is
a complete falsehood," says Mr Wild. "They have never
been proactive in this and all the new information we
have received has come to us from other sources."

Mrs Wild takes a letter from the Foreign Secretary,
Jack Straw, from a pile of papers. "Look at this," she
says. "He waffles on about the coalition military
authorities being severely limited in their ability to
investigate crimes and then says: ĎI can assure you
that the nature of Richardís work had no impact on
whether or not there was an investigationí. Is he
being deliberately obtuse? The whole point is that it
was the nature of Richardís death that might have
influenced whether there was an investigation."

Last month, the Wilds spent another fruitless hour at
the Foreign Office. "We saw someone else this time, a
nice young woman and I could see she was shocked at
what we had to tell her - she was in tears twice - but
I donít expect her concern will motivate them to find
out what really happened to Richard," says Mrs Wild.

The Wilds know that at some point soon, they must move
on - emotionally and physically. "One day, we have to
be sensible and move to a smaller house. Much of the
time, itís just the two of us rattling around," says
Mrs Wild.

However, the thought of ever leaving the only family
home Richard ever had is causing her great anxiety:
"He was here, in these rooms, I remember where I used
to place his pram, I remember him playing in the
garden. This was his home."

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