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LANALLAH __Islamic BlogZine__
Friday, December 10, 2004

Crimes in Iraq
How America Wages War in Iraq
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
Freelance Columnist
18/11/2004
US marine pointing his rifle at a wounded Iraqi in a mosque
Millions of viewers around the world were horrified when their local news media broadcast footage of a US soldier killing at point blank range a wounded Iraqi man lying in a mosque.
Pool journalist Kevin Sites, an embed traveling with US marines, shot the footage and later said the man appeared unarmed and unthreatening. This is what the footage showed.
“He's (expletive) faking he's dead!”
“Yeah, he's breathing,” another Marine is heard saying.
“He's faking he's (expletive) dead!” the first Marine says.
A Marine raises his rifle toward the wounded prisoner lying on the floor and umps a bullet into his head. US networks blurred the image or blacked it out. The BBC showed it. So did Aljazeera. As the wounded man is shot, his legs rise in the air in reaction to the impact of the bullet to his skull. Blood is spattered on the mosque wall behind him.
“He's dead now,” a Marine is heard saying.
There is no escaping this was a war crime. Now the world can see for itself that the torture and murderof Iraqis while in detention at Abu Ghraib was not an isolated matter.
How many more Iraqis were killed in this way that video cameras were not able to capture?
Hello America. This is your US army, valiant and proud. Today we will review the finer merits of military strategy when taking and maintaining a hold on a vibrant city of some 300,000 men, women and children.
Step 1: The Media.
This has to fully comply with our strategic goals by ensuring that key words are repeated thoroughly when referring to a certain subject matter. In Fallujah’s case, we will allow the media to repeat words like “bastion,” “stronghold,” “insurgent base,” “insurgent center of Iraq,” “terrorist heart of the Sunni triangle,” and so on, until all semblance that this was once a city bustling with civilian life is erased from the psyche and the reader is fully engrossed in the mandated logic that the US military is fighting insurgents in their terrorist base.
Furthermore, ensure that the local and world media toe the line when it comes to reporting about Fallujah and any other military campaigns:
Iraq’s media regulator has warned news organisations to stick to the government line on the US-led attack in Falluja or face legal action.
“We hope you comply ... otherwise we regret we will be forced to take all the legal measures to guarantee higher national interests,” the statement said, without elaborating.
Count on a media blackout and our ordinary citizens’ ignorance to ensure they do not realize that our tactics are as terrorist and inhumane as those of countries we previously condemned on the world stage:
The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood seized Hama as the first step towards its goal of a national uprising against the secular Baathist regime. The Syrian President demanded their surrender. His army shelled the city, and special forces went in to kill or capture the militants. The Syrians employed the same strategy that the US is using now. Its tanks and artillery waited outside the city; they fired on militants and civilians alike. Its elite units, like the American Marines surrounding Falluja today, braced themselves for a bloody battle.
The US condemned Syria for the assault that is believed to have cost 10,000 civilian lives. The Syrian army destroyed the historic centre of Hama, and it rounded up Muslim rebels for imprisonment or execution. Syria's actions against Hama came to form part of the American case that Syria was a terrorist state. Partly because of Hama, Syria is on a list of countries in the Middle East whose regimes the US wants to change (Charles Glass in Sulaymaniyah, The Independent, November 9, 2004).
Step 2: Public relations. Tell the world the city we are about to storm has been emptied of civilians:
Mohammed Abboud said he watched his nine-year-old son bleed to death at their Falluja home yesterday, unable to take him to hospital as fighting raged in the streets and bombs rained down.
“My son got shrapnel in his stomach when our house was hit at dawn, but we couldn't take him for treatment,” said Mr Abboud, a teacher.
“We buried him in the garden because it was too dangerous to go out” (Fadel al-Badrani for the BBC in Fallujah, November 10, 2004).
Make sure our soldiers know that they aren't fighting for the people of Iraq but for cold revenge:
I'm not sure it will be better when we're gone, but it's gotten to the point of retribution for all the things that have happened. The beheadings, the bombings and everything (Tom Lasseter Knight Ridder/Tribune news – November 13).
Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage, reduced to shards, the price will be worth it. We need to demonstrate our strength of will to the world, to show that there is only one possible result when madmen take on America (Ralph Peters, New York Post, November 4).
“This is for the Americans of Blackwater that were murdered here in 2004 Semper Fidelis (always faithful),” is scrawled in black print on a section of the bridge across the Euphrates where the remains of two out of four Americans, killed by a mob in Fallujah at the end of March, were hung.
The graffiti is signed “3-5”, an abbreviation of the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, one of the units that is taking part in a massive US-Iraqi assault on the rebel stronghold to regain control of the city.
It finished with: “PS, Fuck You” (AFP, November 14).
“I see the little kids in the cars and I feel sorry for them, but when they turn 16 they’re evil.” (Lindsey Hilsum, with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah, November 14, 2004)
Tell enough lies to our troops until even our own spokesman starts to believe them:
The goals are simple: to win the gratitude of Fallujah civilians who will no longer have to cope with Iraqi and foreign fighters in their midst; and to demonstrate to other insurgent-dominated towns and cities what can happen if they refuse to participate peacefully in the Iraqi political process (John Diamond, Steve Komarow and Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY, November 12).
Let our troops know that God wants them to kill Iraqis in Fallujah, that US President George Bush received direct orders from the Divine that war was sanctioned in Fallujah:
The marines that I have had wounded over the past five months have been attacked by a faceless enemy,” said Colonel Gareth Brandl. “But the enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him” (Paul Wood, BBC News, embedded with US Marines near Fallujah, November 7).
We must not be afraid to make an example of Fallujah. While we always seek to fight humanely, the most humane thing we can do in that tormented city is just to win, to burn out the plague of fanaticism and prove to Iraq's people that the forces of terror will not be allowed to enslave them (Ralph Peters, New York Post, November 4).
Tell the Iraqi people that their own representatives in the interim government are negotiating a peaceful settlement, while in reality, we are preparing for a major assault:
Although the Fallujah operation has lasted less than a week, it was several weeks in the planning and the forces involved may be tied down establishing stability for some time to come (John Diamond, Steve Komarow and Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY – November 12).
Make the fighting seem like a video game our young soldiers may have played a few years ago, or even better, a Hollywood production:
“A psychological operations Humvee drove by, blaring Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries,” the music used in a famous helicopter attack scene in the movie “Apocalypse Now” (James Janega, Chicago Tribune staff reporter, November 10).
Step 3: Kill everything in sight.
Fire at everything that moves. This will guarantee that we save our own skins. Fire before you even know what you are firing at:
“Jump out. Kick in door. Spray machine-gun fire. Run to rooftop. Kill enemy. Jump back into armored vehicle. Move to new location” (Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder/Tribune news, November 13).
To disarm possible booby traps, mines, and other explosives, the advancing forces fired rockets charged with plastic explosives down the empty streets and alleys, which detonated a number of jury-rigged bombs (Anne Barnard, Boston Globe Staff, November 9, 2004).
“I'm supposed to shoot into the houses before our troops go in”, a weary Porter told an Agence France-Presse correspondent in this dusty, devastated city that was once home to around 300,000 Sunni Muslims.
Shoot unarmed Iraqi soldiers. It’s okay; we’ll probably get a few Purple Hearts for it:
Jeff was about five feet away from two unarmed Iraqi soldier-prisoners - each about his own age - when he was ordered to shoot them. He said he looked them in their eyes before closing his own, then pulled the trigger.
He took off two dog tags around his neck, threw them at me and said, ‘Don't you understand? Your brother is a murderer,’ Debbie said (Adam Gorlick, Associated Press, November 13).
A US marine has sparked world-wide revulsion after being seen shooting an injured and helpless Iraqi. The sickening scene was broadcast by Channel 4 News after a fire-fight in the rebel stronghold of Falluja.
The trigger-happy soldier had been asked to get nearer to the injured man. But instead of trying to capture him, the marine is seen leaning over a wall and cold-bloodedly shooting him (Paul Gilfeather, Political Editor, Sunday Mirror, November 14).
“I decided to swim … but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river.”
He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he “helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands.”
“I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards” (AP, ABCNews.com, from accounts by AP photographer Bilal Hussein, November 14).
The morbid gallery of quotes, facts, and figures above printed and published in Western media by verifiable and veritable sources can stream on endlessly. But these testimonials are enough to conjure the reality of the US onslaught in Iraq. It is not humanitarian, nor is it compassionate. It bears the mark of skull ‘n’ bones—the more killed the better.
It is the taste of hatred and brutality, one that has been equalled by the razing armies of history—the Nazis, the Romans, the Visigoths, the Mongols—but rarely exceeded.
This article is not endowing the reader with fuel for hatred. It is not about wanton violence or revenge. It is about truth, the truth that has been kept from a majority of readers and viewers. Insulated and protected from the way war is waged, they refuse to believe that a Western army can execute people in cold blood and fire on unarmed civilians, that a free press is actually less free than many presume.

Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian journalist of Iraqi heritage. Holding an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication, he has eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry. You can reach him at firascape@hotmail.com .


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