Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
February 17, 2010

Is It The Same Old Song?

Taliban leader

Or a different rendition since Bush left the scene?  Pakistani authorities parade blindfolded Taliban commander Abdullah (alias Abu Waqas) for the cameras in Karachi, Pakistan.  The commander's arrest was one of several accomplished in joint operations by CIA and Pakistani security forces in the past week.

The photo leaves us with  few questions. For example…

What is the effect of evoking the Bush-era symbolism of prisoner display and sensory deprivation identified with detainee torture? If this leader was captured by just the Americans, would he have been blindfolded and paraded for the media? Or is the USA still willing to let other countries go where a public relations-oriented White House fears to tread?  And, does this high profile "parade" have any relation to the show of force in Marjah or seek any function in countering GOP "soft on terror" attacks?

Karen Hull

Zarqawi For a BAG post on a previous "show," click here.

(Photo credit: AP/Shakil Adil. Caption: An alleged Taliban commander Abdullah alia Abu Waqas is presented before the media in Karachi, Pakistan Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. According to police officials Abdullah is involved in recruiting female suicide bombers and was arrested in Karachi while he was planning terrorist activities in the city. Pakistan on Weednesday confirmed the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been captured also.)

  • Ursula L

    It’s interesting that they are claiming to have captured someone important, but the picture released has his face obscured enough to prevent him from being recognized. You’d think that they’d want to show his face, to allow people to verify that they’ve captured the person they say they captured.
    This could be anyone.
    Given the hidden face, this picture should be captioned “alleged commander”, since they deliberately chose to make it impossible to verify the identity.

  • paulo

    I see the casual conversation in the background and the handler who is obscured appears to be looking elsewhere and the even casual demeanor of the perp. I wonder if it isn’t a setup.
    On the other hand the only tension in his body is in holding his hands in front of him and the way he is leaning it appears that his handler is keeping him from falling over. Perhaps he is drugged.
    It is helpful that the departmental flag is in English and helpfully shows that it is the office of the CID which from what I can tell from 5 minutes of googling is more like Scotland Yard than the ISI.

  • playera

    Many countries do a line up of arrested people for the news media. I am glad to see the “parade” and prefer it to a mug shot or nothing. A USA mug shot won’t show any torture or other mistreatment. At least by bringing the suspect or person out to the media we get to see something of who’s been caught.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes