Michael Ware


Australian Story: Part 1

Many, many thanks to Morpium for getting this to me so quickly. As can be imagined, it is a massive file, so I have cut it into several parts for easier viewing:

Clip A 3:39 43.8MB (Small 4.0MB)

Clip B 2:15 27.9MB (Small 2.5MB)

Clip C 3:41 44.8MB (Small 4.0MB)

Clip D 5:16 64.5MB (Small 5.8MB)

Clip E 3:45 45.9MB (Small 4.1MB)

Clip F 4:21 53.5MB (Small 4.9MB)

Clip G 2:55 35.5MB (Small 3.2MB)

Clip H 2:24 28.8MB (Small 2.7MB)

Here is the program in one big file:
MOV 327.5MB

TONY FITZGERALD, PRESENTER: Hello I’m Tony Fitzgerald. In my former life as a judge I had the privilege of working with a number of exceptional young law graduates. One became a journalist who’s now famous in the United States for his brave reporting from Middle East war zones. He was kidnapped three times and routinely risked death. Now he’s home, dealing with the aftermath and telling his riveting story for the first time. His name is Michael Ware.

VOICE #1: According to Time correspondent Michael Ware, beyond Kabul it is a virtual no-go zone.

VOICE #2: …spoke to Michael Ware, an Australian journalist who's spent the past two months on the Peshmerga's front lines.

VOICE #3: Michael Ware, it's now almost 24 hours since this kidnapping claim was made…

VOICE #4: One of the very few Western journalists to have made contact with al-Zarqawi's group is Michael Ware. He's a Brisbane boy who's made his name by taking risks few other journalists would even consider.

MICHAEL WARE: What at the end of the day always has driven me in these environments, conflict environments, and what continues to drive me most is the intrigue and this intellectual thirst. I have to know the truth. In conflict everybody lies. Our government lies, their government lies, other governments lie. There is no one pure truth. And we never get to the truth. And the most that we can possibly hope for are but shards of the true story.

FMR STAFF SGT DAVID BELLAVIA, US ARMY INFANTRY: Michael Ware has completed the equivalent of eight to nine combat tours. There is no soldier in our military that has done that. Michael Ware has done that.

MICHAEL WARE: Here, it's more or less pitched battles on the ground...

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: I think he's controversial. He will do what other journalists won’t do.

MICHAEL WARE: I don't know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about when he says we can go strolling in Baghdad.

FMR STAFF SGT DAVID BELLAVIA, US ARMY INFANTRY: He was so unflinchingly honest, so honest that it really rankled the military.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: He is a little bit of a chameleon, he can blend in… not blend in but he can hang out with anyone.

MICHAEL WARE: We're not going to defeat this here in Iraq, this needs to be defeated elsewhere.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: Michael has many facets, I don’t know if anyone has seen them all, not even us.

MICHAEL WARE: From sitting down with West Timorese, to spending endless hours with the Afghan Taliban, to have sat with Al Qaeda after 9/11. I’ve always found myself crossing into the unknown, to the darker recesses.

No matter how many times I've told the story of me being kidnapped by Al Qaeda, every time I've told that story that just rolls off my tongue, I thought I was talking about someone else. It felt-- I never stopped to go back and contemplate how it felt. So effectively what I'd done was I'd put that moment in a cardboard box and sealed the box and gaffer taped it up and I put that emotional box up in my attic and left it there to be dealt with later. And it's only now that I've come back home to Australia to attempt to write of my experiences that I went back up into the attic and found it filled with 300-odd gaffer-taped boxes that have been waiting for another day. And that day has arrived.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: Michael is two years older than me. He used to do a lot of dressing up, pretending to be in the army and I would always have to be the bad guy or I would be tied to something or dramatic things like that and him and the dog would come and rescue me.

MICHAEL WARE: As a child I wanted to be a theoretical astrophysicist. Then from a particular night at the age of thirteen I wanted to be a criminal lawyer. I spent many years at law school but came to realise that it wasn’t going to be me. I received a call out of the blue from one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, The Courier Mail here in Brisbane, asking if I’d ever considered becoming a journalist.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: Once he decided to be a journalist, that was it. Straight away he was into the hard and heavy stuff.

MICHAEL WARE: I’d been working in Queensland for six or seven years, and I was asked out of the blue by the Courier Mail would I consider going to Timor to fill a rotation. And I got off that transport plane at Dili airport totally frightened, because I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: There was a group of us correspondents up there who’d been there all through ‘99, and then this guy turns up and he’s like, 'where's the story, where's the story, where's the story?' And the first thing he wanted to do was, of course, you know, the most dangerous thing which was to go to the militia camps. Basically our first reaction was ‘oh my god, I’m so glad this guy wasn’t here when it was really violent because he would have got us all killed’ because he was so keen. Immediately I saw that he was a guy who was going places.

MICHAEL WARE: Once I had my first taste of reporting a foreign story I knew there was nothing else I could ever do again, I simply had to have more.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: Then he went to Time Magazine and I was happy because that's what he wanted to do.

MICHAEL WARE: After 9/11, as the American invasion was apparent, I just kept badgering, ‘I want to go to Afghanistan, I want to go to Afghanistan’.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: And then in one week quite a few journalists got killed and then what happened after that was the Time Magazine list of journalists who wanted to go, got small, and Mick was suddenly up near the top, so he went.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: When he first went to Afghanistan, didn’t know a soul, had to find somewhere to live, drivers, interpreters.

MICHAEL WARE: I was sent on a three week assignment, and I didn’t leave for a year, most of which I spent living in the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.

What you'll find a short distance down this way is the Kandahar opium market.
They came to this country to capture, shut down, or kill al Qaeda, and they have not succeeded in that.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: His accommodation was a bombed-out hotel with no doors, no windows, no running water, no electricity. He lost 20 kilos in Afghanistan and he was very drawn and haggard, that’s when this portrait was painted.

MICHAEL WARE: I arrived as a bumbling Aussie journo but to get to the answers I was seeking I became an Afghan. My Afghan language is that of the Taliban. Because I simply had to immerse myself in the place to even hope to begin to understand it. We would go into these Taliban controlled areas and stop for a bite to eat and the Taliban would be absolutely unaware that a foreigner had just been among them, and if they had known I would have been executed instantly as would my team.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: A farmer and his family moved into the area and there was a landmine in the paddock and it was detonated. It was Michael that scooped up the older brother who was the worst injured of the two and picked him up and carried him to the hospital, but the hospital had absolutely no medication.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: All he could do for this boy was give him two panadol and walk away and he did walk away. And the boy died.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: Michael said when he left that hospital that night he could still hear the wailing in his head and actually he can still hear it today.

MICHAEL WARE: When these things of war cast their shadow upon you, there is no cure.

When I went to live in Kandahar I was in a relationship with Shannon, a Brisbane girl whom I met because she went to school with my sister. We’d been together eight years at that time, blissfully so.
KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: There was talk of Shannon moving somewhere in between so it wasn’t so far so that the visits could become more regular.

MICHAEL WARE: We had been trying for some time to have children and it was over a scratchy satellite phone that I learned I was to be a dad, in Kandahar. I think half of the Taliban knew that I was about to become a father, because I couldn't hide it. I then didn’t return till it was time for Jack's birth and I was in the theatre when he was born.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: I just presumed he would give it all up when he had a child.

VOICE ON TELEVISION: …as well as the Palestinian prime minister.

MICHAEL WARE: He's very interested in the Middle East, has been for days.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: He really did think he wouldn’t do a good job as a father, already then he felt like he had changed as a person and that he really wouldn’t be able to do a good job. Michael and Shannon broke up. Michael returned back to Afghanistan and Shannon had to start life then as a single mum and it just happened all so quickly and it was so horrible. He would ring me and I could hear an obvious battle going on in the background and he was feeling such remorse and devastation and you know just utter… it was awful, and he used to say to me ‘all I would have to do is stand up and I would die’, that was really scary.

MICHAEL WARE: Hey, Jack. Today is Wednesday, the 28th of January, 2004, and I'm in Kabul, and look outside my window. It's snowing, Jack.

MICHAEL WARE: For better or worse, Jack’s the son of Michael Ware. And I guess I am what I am. Something called and I had to step in and once I was in these conflicts there was a sense of belonging, despite what it was costing me or others back home. There was a job that had to be done and for inexplicable reasons it seemed that I was the only one who was there to do it. Not in an arrogant sense, but for example in the war in Iraq I could not fathom why it was that particularly the American media, yet anyone, was unable or unwilling or simply wasn’t telling the story of the other side.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: He basically just started filming things with a little 300 dollar handi-cam. But it was the kind of footage that you just don’t get.

MAN: [speaking in native language]

MICHAEL WARE: He believes that they're expecting to be attack, so they are preparing ambushes.

MICHAEL WARE: Time Magazine assigned me to remain un-imbedded, roaming free in Northern Iraq. It was there unfortunately that I witnessed my first ever suicide bomb attack, and my second one. I heard an explosion and I spun around and there behind me I saw the blast and very quickly rushed over. It was like a scene from Dante’s inferno, some image of hell. An Australian cameraman working for the ABC was killed and an Australian TV correspondent for the ABC was wounded. It took me some days, but eventually I was able to get the cameraman’s body out and the survivor with him and they both came home.

MAN: Oh behalf of your bad boys, we present this as a birthday present for you.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: He built up a really really good team of people, people he could really trust, people who were highly intelligent, people who could read the situation with this sense of purpose that they were actually producing good journalism and they were telling the truth.

MAN: Hi Jack, Hi Abu Jack. Happy birthday to you!

SALAH DAWOOD, INTERPRETER: Mick there, the nickname is Abu Jack, this means the father of Jack, and he was very, very proud.

MICHAEL WARE: G'day, mate.

SALAH DAWOOD: G'day, mate.

MICHAEL WARE: That's not bad.

SALAH DAWOOD: That's not bad.

MICHAEL WARE: The Iraqis staff weren’t a second family, they were just family. Things would happen in the course of those years where I came to see the mettle of these men, and never once did any one of them take a backward step. I chose good men, honourable men.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: What Mick gained was a real insight into actually what was going on in Iraqi society at that time.

MICHAEL WARE: There was just not the one war in Iraq. You had the American war versus the insurgency, who are nationalists fighting to free their country and were purely politically motivated. Then there's the American war with al Qaida in Iraq. Then there's the Sunni and Shia war amongst the Iraqis themselves. There was the Arab versus Kurdish on-again off-again little conflict. And then there was the Iranian war versus most of those named above. And for better or for ill, everyone spoke to me. And it took a lot of earning but everyone trusted me and I tried to live up to those trusts. I went out and I found the Iraqis who were on the other side of everything. And first it was for the purpose of stories but they became my friends. Once someone invited you to their house, it's incumbent upon them, at the dire risk of losing their good family name and all public standing, losing face, they must with that invitation of hospitality give you protection. Even if his brother shows up wanting to kill you he must defend you against all threats.

SALAH DAWOOD, INTERPRETER: His network and his relationships were really, really wide and expanded day after day.

MICHAEL WARE: And then I personally witnessed the birth of the insurgency through my friends. I watched first as occasionally they'd just pick up a weapon and take the odd angry shot at a passing American convoy for no particular reason, and from that start to organise as a little group. I was with Iraqi insurgents as they went and attacked the Americans. I was going to their first training camps in the dead of night, having been blindfolded or shoved in trunks of cars.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: It’s central, really, to what is the role of journalism in war time, are we supposed to be cheerleaders for our side or are we supposed to actually report the truth?

MICHAEL WARE: What about objective line, how's that look?

SOLDIER: Objective line, right now it looks like the enemy are more in-depth.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: He was able to report both sides, he was able to report what actually Iraqi people were thinking and saying and what the Americans were thinking and saying.

VOICE #1: Michael Ware is the only Western journalist in regular contact with insurgents.

VOICE #2: Time magazine's Michael Ware received the footage.

MICHAEL WARE: I just received two more videos this morning from Iraqi groups.
You see this car, this suicide car?
What we didn't know is they had a production unit accompanying the bombers.

VOICE #3: Ware denies he's being used by the terror groups.

MICHAEL WARE: I was openly named as a terrorist, as a traitor, as not being a patriot.

BRENT SADLER: Do you worry that you are getting too close to this, that one day they might shoot the messenger?

MICHAEL WARE: I worry about that every waking moment and every sleeping dream.

MICHAEL WARE: I quickly came to realise not just that our people and the West and public didn't know who we were fighting. Much to my disbelief I actually learned that the American war machine honestly and genuinely didn't know who they were fighting. And they're the ones conducting the war. I quickly realised it was, like, honest, they could not understand why these people were shooting at them. And yet I was with these people well before they took their first shot and all through the shots that followed and I knew exactly who they were fighting against and why they were fighting.

JOHN MARTINKUS, JOURNALIST: His assessment of the situation, it was basically about four years ahead of the US military. As the insurgency was growing, those that were working with foreigners were becoming targets themselves.

MICHAEL WARE: One of our senior translators was gunned down just a couple of blocks from our house as he was on his way to work.

OMAR: Merry Christmas, Abu Jack.

MICHAEL WARE: Merry Christmas, Omar. Abu Kitab.

OMAR: Abu Kitab.

MICHAEL WARE: Omar’s brutal killing really was a shock to the system of our body of brothers. I would literally have to build a private army, a small private army.

SALAH DAWOOD, INTERPRETER: He recruit many, many security guards and established a new system for travelling here and there.


SAMI: [speaking native language]

MICHAEL WARE: Everyone is okay.

SALAH DAWOOD, INTERPRETER: But still the threat is going on.

MICHAEL WARE: This is my room.

SALAH DAWOOD, INTERPRETER: The office attacked twice by car bomb.

MICHAEL WARE: My windows blast in. But this is why three months ago I got plastic windows.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: To be on guard the whole time and every noise and to be listening out for how close are those bombings. Should I be doing something, should I be moving, no it’s okay I’ll just stay where I am. And then coming back to normal life and stepping into it.

MICHAEL WARE: I only came home once or twice a year.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: He would say to me, ‘it gets harder every time to come back and step back into normal life’.

MICHAEL WARE: As young and as small as he was, despite the long absence and the absent sense of what a father is, the minute Jack and I laid eyes on each other, we were giggling and laughing and playing and rolling, yeah.

GALE WARE, MOTHER: You’d hear there was more deaths in Baghdad and there were more car bombs going off. Dead bodies left in the street of a morning that had been tortured and they just throw them in the street and I used to email him and say come home, come home, you know, it’s getting worse.

VOICE #1: From Pakistanis to Turks, any outsider appears to be a target.

VOICE #2: These hostages will be beheaded as an example to others.

VOICE #3: The insurgents holding Mr. Bigley say he will die.

TONY JONES: Michael, thanks for joining us again. Is there anything at all the British Government can do, do you believe, to save Kenneth Bigley?

MICHAEL WARE: The short answer, Tony, is no. Absolutely not.

MICHAEL WARE: The end of 2004 was a furious time in the war in Iraq. The bloodletting was at an horrific rate.

VOICE #4: US and Iraqi forces fought gun battles as they moved against insurgents near Haifa Street, now notorious as a hotbed of resistance in Baghdad.

MICHAEL WARE: There was a day in September when there was a particularly furious battle on Haifa Street, when the Americans went in. After that battle, the Iraqi guerrilla commander who controlled Haifa Street sent one of his mid-ranking commanders to my house, and he said Al Qaeda has taken over Haifa Street. That meant Al Qaeda had taken over a central part of the capital of Iraq. So he said the boss said to come and bring you in and show you. Whilst we were driving I filmed the flags of Al Qaeda. I clearly saw the multitude of Al Qaeda fighters. You see a member of Al Qaeda stepping out from the median strip pulling the pin on a grenade, now that’s the only film I have of my kidnapping. There was an Al Qaeda banner and I was put underneath that banner and I was being readied for my execution. So they were going to film my death with my own camera. As the group had paused to get the camera ready, the nationalist mid-ranking commander who took me in there chose that moment to pipe up and the local commander said ‘Well you know he’s my guest, he’s under my protection so if you kill him, you dishonour me’. Through gritted teeth they literally shoved me back.

(Preview of next week’s program)
MICHAEL WARE: Suddenly at our main checkpoint a massive car bomb went off and we all stood there ready and waiting for those first masked fighters to come spilling around the corner. The bullets were literally coming through the walls. The fighting was hand to hand.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: When he’s in the thick of awfulness over there, we will talk endlessly about his love life.

MICHAEL WARE: You find love in the strangest of places, in the midst of a battle, literally.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: Really over-the-top romantic stuff.

MICHAEL WARE: Oh, the mad things I’ve done in love’s name. I’ve almost been killed more than once in the name of love.

FMR STAFF SGT DAVID BELLAVIA, US ARMY INFANTRY: I think Michael’s addicted to danger and he’ll go where the fighting is. It’s almost like a sickness to him. He has to be where bullets are flying.

MICHAEL WARE: I’m here facing the demons from the war and the demons that have plagued me out of war. Now I’ve turned to all sorts of things to try to survive, or to get by. It just sucks not to feel anything. Anything to keep the demons at bay.

(End of preview)