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  Nr. 3330 de marti, 24 mai 2005 
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Current scenarios
Baghdad hell hasn't turned into home heaven
Motto: "Before becoming history and even before taking place, a lot of major events are prepared in laboratories"
The three hostages have returned home. But they are not free yet. As for Muhammad Munaf, he was to face Bucharest authorities who even announced intention to retain him. But in the last minute the Americans took over. It is to be seen the conclusions reached so far by the three secret services collaborating in crisis group: SIE (the Foreign Affairs Service), SRI (the Romanian Secret Service) and the Army Secret Service. Munaf's future is only one of the numberless mysteries to be unveiled. But the most important question of all is: how were the four set free? By force, by peaceful means or by a combination of pressure and persuasion? As for the second hypothesis and partly for the third, it is interesting to learn what the kidnappers got in exchange for the kidnapped and from whom, in case it is true they got nothing from Bucharest authorities. But the journalists are not free either. No matter the psychological pressure and the physical traumas they have gone through, they obviously need peace, recovery, cure. And this calls for cut down on the degree of freedom they have got. But let us not fool ourselves: Romanian and US special services want to make the four deliver all the information they have, as long as it is still fresh and unaltered by time. Therefore endless questioning will follow. And now the press is free to disclose information it has so far kept away from public opinion so that it would not jeopardize journalists' lives. And the press will ask all sides involved delicate questions, as well as publish fanciful scenarios. As far as this is concerned, the Baghdad hell hasn't turned into home heaven.
There are three items of information on the hostages' release that contradict each other, so that it is almost impossible to put them together in a sensible picture. President Traian Basescu thanked first of all to the three Romanian secret services and afterwards to the others, representatives of the Arab and Islam community among them. In this version, the release was a mission accomplished by the crisis group with no political or financial concession. It was the first time that Al-Jazeera TV channel got involved in negotiations to set the hostages free. But it came up with a totally different piece of information a few hours later on Saturday evening: they said Iraqi religious and spiritual leaders, Sheik Salman Ben Fahd Al-Udeh one of them, played the leading role. Al-Jazeera came up with one image to support such information. And it fuels the peaceful version on the release. But Basescu is insisting on information embargo meant to protect some representatives of Romanian intelligence services supposed to be still in that territory or some "moles" that got reactivated, but have to go to sleep again. And the third item of information not fitting the others was actually issued before the happy event. On Saturday evening, a delegation of members from the Islamic League in Romania, led by Dr. Rifai Issal, left Bucharest to go to Baghdad to release the hostages. And their message was explicit enough. The delegation met not only with businessmen and spiritual leaders from Baghdad, but also with terrorist group representatives. But Dr. Rifai outlined that the four hostages "have never been in danger" and that they would be set free. It was shortly after the president of Romania had stated something totally different: that tragical denouement might follow and that we "might even see executions". The question we need to answer during the next days is how can we make such items of information work together and shape a general picture. In case these items are not complementary, then the Romanians have got the right to learn who lied to them and why.
A terrorist group can't afford the luxury of spending money to keep hostages and get nothing in exchange. It can't support either expenses on negotiations by many intermediaries, meant to free hostages. And it just can't pay for the daily expenses to keep the kidnapped alive. And I have never heard of some terrorist group ever surrendering to pressure. On the other hand, no government that comes up with ransom in one way or the other does admit it. All the dilemmas that public opinion is confronted with at present are also amplified by one more procedure, somehow atypical: isolating the former hostages from media and civil society representatives. In other states let's remember Italy a huge crowd was allowed to welcome the former hostage back to the country. But this is not the case with Romania.
Sorin ROSCA STANESCU 
A r h i v a
  Don Quixote, Dissident    
  Analyses in SRI villa    
  Talpes makes tricky move    
  For now, Basescu as great winner    
  Hundred people arrested in Baghdad after release of Romanian journalists    
  Munaf freed by Romanians and handed in to Americans    
  Separation from Socialists    
  Cabinet ministers to be replaced in June    
  Peaceful terms with IMF    
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