September 21, 2004
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
To the Editor:
In today’s article reporting the decapitation by terrorists in Iraq of American civilian Eugene Armstrong, The Times reporter wrote:
“In the video of the beheading, an insurgent wearing a ski mask and surrounded by four men with assault rifles says the group is killing Mr. Armstrong because the American occupiers and the interim Iraqi government failed to meet the deadline. Much of the man’s long speech is addressed to President Bush, who is called a dog at one point.”
Please note that the news article omitted an important part of the story which was the exact phrase uttered by the executioner at the time he cut Armstrong’s throat and severed his head from his body. That phrase was, “Oh you Christian dog, Bush, stop your arrogance.”
The reference to President Bush by the terrorist strengthens the belief of many that we are involved in a war of civilizations. Fanatic Islamists believe that Christians and Jews who do not recognize the supremacy of Islam should die. That awful message is part of the story and The Times erred in not carrying that quote which many other papers did.
Lee Hamilton, Co-Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, has said in describing Muslim terrorists, “They want to kill us.” Why? Because those making up western civilization and its ideas which Jihad is bent on destroying are overwhelming Christians and Jews. I believe it is President Bush’s faith that gives him the strength to stay with and implement the Bush Doctrine which is, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
Your reporter refers to the spokesman for the murderers as an “insurgent.” What would it take for The Times to call someone who has just participated in the beheading of an innocent civilian a terrorist? I am sure the public would like to know.
All the best.
Edward I. Koch