Monday, June 7, 2010

Furkan Dogan and the Anatomy of an Execution

One of the many horror stories to come out of the Gaza Flotilla incident is the unfortunate fate of Furkan Dogan, a dual citizen of the US and Turkey. He was one of the nine individuals killed when the IDF commandos took over the MM. But what interests the Huffington Post is not the fact that he is dead, but how exactly he died.

Let's look at the initial story, posted here. According to the HP article, which was taken from ABC News,
"ABC News, quoting the Anatolian news agency, reports that Dogan was shot at "close range, with four bullets in his head and one in his chest."...State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Dogan, who was born in Troy, N.Y., had died of "gunshot wounds" but he declined to confirm reports that he had been shot multiple times in the head."
 So the facts are that he was shot, but how much and where exactly was still unconfirmed. BUT, that doesn't matter to the HP, because less than two days later, they published this, a blog entry by an individual named Cenk Uygur entitled "Israeli Defense Forces Execute American Citizen".

Please, go to the article and read it. Uygur has one source for his extremely inflammatory claim, the Huffington Post article linked to above. The source could not even confirm how many times Dogan had been shot, much less where the bullets were in his body. There was no evidence about who shot him. Here's Uygur's extremely well thought out and ironclad argument.
"What else would you call it? The Israeli commandos that boarded the Free Gaza Flotilla shot Furkan Dogan once in the chest and four times in the head at close range. Was he still resisting after the third head shot? Did five different commandos happen to shoot him all at the same time in the middle of the night with stunning accuracy? No, someone shot Dogan at close range and did so enough times to make sure he was dead well after there might have been any resistance. That's generally known as an execution."
 Apparently, all you have to do is shoot someone in close range and that's enough to declare that you did it intentionally. But I won't even bother fisking the risk of Uygur's argument, because he is simply making things up. He has no idea who killed Dogan, or why they did it. He presents no evidence to back up his claims besides Dogan's body, which hasn't even been put in the ground before Uygur has decided the IDF are guilty of cold blooded murder. He doesn't even have an eyewitness, which is impressive considering the Free Gaza movement has proven themselves to be willing to say pretty much anything to make the IDF look bad.  Where I come from, Mr. Uygur, that's generally known as yellow journalism.

But here comes the third segment of our little drama. Ha'aretz has the autopsy report. And what does it say about the fate of Mr. Dogan?
"A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has U.S. citizenship, as shot five times from less than 45 cm away, in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back, it said."
 So, what do we know thanks to this new information? Dogan was shot not the way the HP or Uygur described him but in a variety of places. What's really interesting is that he was shot both from the front and in the back. What does that tell us about the circumstances of his death? I'm just as qualified as Mr. Uygur in terms of forensics, so I feel like it's OK to say that the IDF commandos probably did not stand both in front and behind Dogan and then shot him. Such an execution strategy is probably just as dangerous for the IDF soldiers as it would be for Dogan. But of course, Mr. Uygur's ironclad prosecution argument of "he was shot at close range, so it must have been an execution" remains intact, because the autopsy confirms he was shot in close range.

But at the end of the day, Mr. Uygur's article remains inflammatory and baseless from the evidence. It would not be enough that he admits he got the facts of the case wrong, he deliberately, maliciously, and unfairly assigned blame to the IDF commandos when he had no evidence to support his case. And the Huffington Post published it as fact! This is nothing more or less than slander towards the IDF, and while I am not surprised the HP gave a voice to this ridiculous person, I would hope that they eventually correct their mistake. At the time that this blog post is published, though, they have not.


  1. Do you think you can make a case that someone other than the IDF shot him?

  2. I have as strong a case that the activists shot him as Mr. Uygur has on the IDF, in other words, nothing. But I don't have to because the burden of proof is on him. And he comes up woefully short.

  3. Matt,
    You could play a detective on the Keystone Cops.

  4. Speaking strictly for myself, I have a powerful aversion to being shot and killed. I long ago came to the conclusion that, much like going to prison, being shot and killed is not a good thing and thus should be avoided.

    It's for this reason that I tend not to confront foreign militaries on the high seas. I have noted that when you try to kill soldiers they have a way of fighting back.

    I recommend against.