The Associated Press is reporting this morning that Vincent was found shot to death in Basra. More:
Vincent’s body was discovered on the side of the highway south of Basra later. He had been shot in the head and multiple times in the body, al-Zaidi said.
Police said Vincent, a writer who had been living in New York, had been staying in Basra for several months working on a book about the history of the city.
In an opinion column published July 31 in The New York Times, Vincent wrote that Basra’s police force had been heavily infiltrated by members of Shiite political groups, including those loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Vincent quoted an unidentified Iraqi police lieutenant as saying that some police were behind many of the assassinations of former Baath Party members that have taken place in Basra.
"He told me that there is even a sort of "death car" — a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment," he wrote.
Vincent was also critical of the British military, which is responsible for security in Basra, for turning a blind eye to abuses of power by Shiite extremists in the city.
He was the author of "In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq," a recently published book that was an account of life in a post-Saddam Iraq.
Lately, the BBC says, Vincent had written about the issues in the British sector around Basra. He had told people about Shi’a radicals infiltrating the local police in the area, taking advantage of their position to assassinate former Ba’ath party members. His kidnappers may come from that group, rather than a Zarqawi faction; one would suppose that the latter would have taken advantage of Vincent’s notoriety in the West for a ransom demand or at least a videotaped execution and statement. His business relationship with Nour Weidi could also have offended locals — he wrote about that danger in his book, and it could explain why she got shot as well as Vincent.
Unfortunately, we will likely never know the full circumstances.
This is quite a blow for everyone who cares about the Iraq issue, the blogosphere, journalism — but most of all, for those of us whom Stephen touched in one small way or another. He knew the risks and went to Iraq anyway because he felt that the stories and voices of the Iraqi people must be heard. That kind of courage will be missed most of all.
Godspeed and farewell, Stephen.
I echo that sentiment.