Retraction: I now know that the story of "Maia" was fictional

The story posted on this site in May about "Maia," the Sri Lankan-American Buddhist who was tortured by her Serb captors while on an aid mission during the Bosnian war, is fictional.

At the time, I sought verification of her story as written by Trusted Friend, and we waited for weeks to publish while we both sought verification. We thought we had enough verification through Maia's "Curious Buddhist" blog site, and a Memorial site to her death filled with hundreds of entries. As it turns out, both sites were elaborate fictions.

A chat forum based in England called "Ship of Fools" was used to draw thousands of readers into the life and story of "Maia," her blog "Curious Buddhist," and Maia's husband "Al," a rabbi "Yish," and a lawyer named "Dave Midland." Trusted Friend picked up on the powerful story of Maia, got in touch with "Dave Midland," and wrote his own memorial to her based on all the internet information available about Maia.

However, Maia, Al, Yish, and Dave Midland all turned out to be the same person. A Ship of Fools reader recently posted this on my site:

Unfortunately the Maia / Curious Buddhist appears to have ben created by
someone with Munchhausen's Syndrome or similar.

I am very sorry to learn of this, because I believed her story, and cried when she died. I knew very little about Bosnia before hearing 'her' story (I am 22 & a student in England), and have no axe to grind.

You may want to read this & contact the site owners for more information: http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=003374

I checked the site above and read about the regret and anguish of over 400 Ship of Fools members who were duped into having their heartstrings pulled when it was revealed that Maia / Al / Yish / Dave Midland were elaborate fakes, and a sick feign at reality by a fiction writer. However, last time I checked, this forum site exposing the fraud was down. It seems the author is quite adept at making and shutting down various websites, from memorial sites to blogs, and does not want the word out that he is perpetrating a lie. If "Finding Karadzic" gets shut down suddenly, you will know exactly what happened. Although "Ship of Fools" readers exposed the writer as a fake, this perpetrator has not yet been identified.

I regret posting the story when my verification was incomplete. But I also believe that one of the important functions of this blog is as a truth-seeking forum, where rumors are taken and face value and dispelled or confirmed by various readers. The doubt and questioning posted in the comments section of the original Maia post both seem to indicate the healthiness of this process. If I applied journalistic standards to my Karadzic writing, I would have very little to write about, as it is tough to investigate and verify wide-ranging rumors from behind a computer screen. For me, this blog about the complex Karadzic problem is underpinned by a spirit of truthseeking and inquiry. If I can avoid partisanship, public relations, and spin, then I'm doing my job, for whatever that is worth.


U.S. and Serbia enter agreement that would allow American troops in Serbia

From a Romanian newspaper last week:

The United States and Serbia on Thursday signed an agreement aimed at helping the Balkan state bolster civilian control over the military, the US State Department said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Serbian President Boris Tadic signed the agreement in a ceremony in Washington. The two countries hope to establish greater military cooperation in the future, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

McCormack, however, also emphasized that Serbia must comply with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, by arresting suspected war criminals from the 1990s Balkan wars, including former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and top general Ratko Mladic.

Rice urged "President Tadic to do everything that he could to meet the requirements of the international tribunal in The Hague to turn over these war criminals," McCormack said.

Richard Gere and crew begin filming Karadzic movie. Will heightened awareness follow?

A brief article on the filming:

Actor Richard Gere has arrived in Sarajevo to shoot a movie on Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, local media reports.

"I expect I will learn a lot about Bosnia," Gere told reporters on his arrival in Sarajevo. He refused to disclose whether the character he plays in "Spring Break in Bosnia" would find and arrest the former Bosnian Serb political leader, who has been on the run since the U.N. tribunal accused him of war crimes in 1995.

In the film, Gere plays a journalist who traveled to Bosnia looking for Karadzic, but local residents believe the character is a CIA agent, Serbia's RTS radio-television said Monday.

Looks like Topher Grace didn't make the cast - to the disappointment of my female friends.

The press was abuzz with speculation about whether Karadzic is caught in the movie. Mr. Gere didn't give away too much in parrying these questions. Not to be a curmudgeon, but any follower of this site or Balkans news should be able to determine whether Karadzic was in fact actually caught...

Mr. Gere: I was mistaken about the Bosnian restaurant which I had told you bore your likeness on its menus. I was just there and realized they use a different actor, though for some reason I remember it being you.