Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reuters Reporter is Source for His Own Story

I think I've seen it all now. An story from Reuters reporter Noor Mohammad Sherzai quotes extensively from ... Noor Mohammad Sherzai.

And Sherzai claims U.S. troops opened fire on civilians in Afghanistan.

If this story is proven to be bogus, will he claim he misquoted himself?

U.S. fire scatters crowd after Afghan bomb
By Noor Mohammad Sherzai

BATI KOT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - U.S. troops opened fire on civilians near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Thursday after a failed suicide car bomb attack on their convoy, a Reuters witness said.

There was no immediate comment on the reported incident either from U.S.-led coalition forces or from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The witness said three suicide bombers in one vehicle attacked a convoy of U.S. troops in the village of Bati Kot, 15 km (9 miles) east of Jalalabad, but none of the soldiers was hurt.

Two of the bombers were immediately killed in the blast. The third, dressed in a police uniform, survived only to be shot dead by troops, the witness said.

A fire brigade vehicle arriving at speed at the scene then suffered brake failure and rammed into the U.S. vehicles. Troops inside then opened fire, wounding a number of bystanders.

"I saw everything," said Reuters correspondent Noor Mohammad Sherzai. "I saw the suicide bomb attack ...

"I saw the fire brigade vehicle rushing to the area at top speed, somehow its brakes failed and hit one police vehicle and coalition vehicles, then the Americans started firing at the people and everyone lay flat on the ground and then fled the area."

Sherzai said a number of people had been wounded in the attack, but he did not know how many. "I ran away to save my own life."

Sherzai and other reporters at the scene said many shots were fired and Afghan police were among those fleeing the scene.

"I was running away as fast as I could, but some of the police overtook me," Sherzai said. The police, he said, "were very angry because the Americans were shooting and wanted to shoot back but others stopped them".
Not to nitpick here, but maybe Reuters ought to have another person write the story just to make it look legitimate.

UPDATE: First of all, thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the Insta-lanche, John Stephenson for linking at NewsBusters and Stop the ACLU, and Hot Air headlines for the links.

Lawhawk at A Blog for All has a lot of questions:
Is Sherzai inventing details on the incident? How did he know that the brakes on the firetruck gave out? How could the military know either? Is he claravoyant? It was a rapidly developing situation, and the possibility for further Taliban attacks were quite high given what had just transpired.
Ed Driscoll notes:
Hey, if Reuters' Adnan Hajj can rework the Beirut cityscape for a more dramatic photo, why can't a Reuters reporter insert himself into his own story?"
Meanwhile, reader Dan Collins notes a Google search for "Noor Mohammad Sherzai Reuters" and variations of the name returns only this story (and links to this post).

Who is this Sherzai and why are there apparently no other stories by this individual?

Another reader, Skeptical Tom, asks:
Uh, what exactly brought Sherzai to be in a position to witness a vehicle-bourn suicide attach on a (moving?) Coalition convoy? Was he embedded? Dumb luck? Or, was there a tip off that something might occur at those coordinates at that time? Further, Sherzai states that there were "other reporters at the scene" who also happened to by "lucky"? If the attack were on an outpost, checkpoint or other fixed target, I might be less skeptical. However, unless the reporter/witness was part of the convoy itself, I question the happenstance of the whole affair.
Reuters suffered a tremendous credibility hit with the Adnan Hajj Fauxtography scandal, and now they have a mysterious "reporter" quoting himself?

UPDATE II: Reader grayp points out the name Noor is likely female. Still, I can't find anything else authored by this individual. Another reader took the time to point out the obvious, that two others authors were listed at the end of the story:
(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul and Sayed Salahuddin in Gereshk).
What "jarhead" fails to note is they are in different locations than the bylined author. Of course I had known this earlier since I read the entire story, but felt it wasn't relevant. And it isn't.

Of course we hope it's not this Sayed Salahuddin.

Hamid Shalizi is indeed a Reuters reporter with a history.

UPDATE III: Here is the Reuters handbook. Under the part about quotes, it doesn't mention quoting yourself in a news story.

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