Children of Abraham: Death in the Desert
UPDATE FROM RICHARD: I have also created a Flash presentation with Chris's writing, images of the war crime which is set to music from Peter Gabriel. Click on the banner to the right or here.
written by Chris Floyd
What happened in the village of Abu Sif (Isahaqi), north of Baghdad, on Ides of March? The murk of war – the natural blur of unbuckled event, and its artificial augmentation by professional massagers – shrouds the details of the actual operation. But here is what we know.
We know that U.S. forces conducted a raid on a house in the village on March 15. We know that the Pentagon said the American troops were "targeting an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for the al-Qaeda in Iraq terror network," when their team came under fire, and that the troops "returned fire. utilizing both air and ground assets." We know that the Pentagon said that "only" one man, two women and one child were killed in the raid, which destroyed a house in the village.
We know from photographic evidence that the corpses of two men, four shrouded figure s (women, according to the villagers), and five children – all of them apparently under the age of five, one as young as seven months – were pulled from the rubble of the house and laid out for burial beneath the bright, blank desert sky. We know that an Associated Press reporter on the scene saw the ruined house, and a photographer for Agence France Presse took the pictures of the bodies.
We know that two Iraqi police officials, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein – both employed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government – told Reuters that the 11 occupants of the house, including the five children, had been bound and shot in the head before the house was blown up. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police told Reuters that an American helicopter landed on the roof in the early hours of the morning, then the house was blown up, and then the victims were discovered. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said that an autopsy performed on the bodies found that "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head." We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said they found "spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble."
We know that Ahmed Khalaf, brother of house's owner, told AP that nine of the victims were family members and two where visitors, adding, "the killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death."
We know from the photographs that one child, the youngest, the baby, has a gaping wound in his forehead. We can see that one other child, a girl with a pink ribbon in her hair, is lying on her side and has blood oozing from the back of her head. The faces of the other children are turned upwards toward the sun; if they were shot, they were shot in the back of the head and their wounds are not evident. But we can see that their bodies, though covered with dust from the rubble, are otherwise unmarked; they were evidently not crushed in the collapse of the house during, say, a fierce firefight between U.S. forces and an "al Qaeda facilitator." They died in some other fashion.
We know from the photographs that two of the children – two girls, still in their pajamas – are lying with their dead eyes open. We can see that the light and tenderness that animate the eyes of every young child have vanished; nothing remains but the brute stare of nothingness into nothingness. We can see that the other three children have their eyes closed; two are limp, but the baby has one stiffened arm raised to his cheek, as if trying to ward off the blow that gashed and pulped his face so terribly.
These facts are what we know from American officials, American-backed Iraqi officials and reporters for Western press associations on the scene. This is probably all we will ever know for certain about what happened in Abu Sifa (Isahaqi) on March 15. The rest will remain obscured by the murk instigated by U.S. military spokesmen, who are evidently not telling the truth about the body count of the raid, and by the natural confusion that must attend the villagers' description of an attack that struck without warning in the middle of the night. But beyond this cloud of unknowing, there are a few other facts relevant to the case that can be clearly established.
For instance, we know that the American troops who caused the deaths of these children – either by tying them up and shooting them, an unspeakable atrocity, or else "merely" by storming or bombing a house full of civilians in a night raid "with both air and ground assets" – were sent to Iraq on a demonstrably false mission to "disarm" weapons that did not exist and take revenge for 9/11 on a nation that had nothing to do with the attack. And we now know that the White House – and George W. Bush specifically – knew all along that the intelligence did not and could not support the public case he had made for the war.
We know that the only reason that this dead baby has his arm frozen to his lifeless face is that three years ago this week, George W. Bush gave the order to begin the unprovoked, unjust and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. He hasn't fired a single shot or launched a single missile; he hasn't tortured or killed any prisoners; he hasn't kidnapped or beheaded civilians or planted bombs along roadsides, in mosques or marketplaces. Yet every single atrocity of the war – on both sides – and every single death caused by the war, and every act of religious repression perpetrated by the extremist sects empowered by the war, is the direct result of the decision made by George W. Bush three years ago. Nothing he says can change this fact; nothing he does, or causes to be done, for good or ill, can wash the blood of these children – and the tens of thousands of other innocent civilians killed in the war – from his hands.
And anyone who knows these facts, who sees these facts, and fails to cry out against them – if only in your own heart – will be forever tainted by this same blood.
|US raid on home killed 11 family members
By Amer Amery
03/16/06 - TIKRIT, Iraq, March 15 (Reuters) - Eleven members of an Iraqi family were killed in a U.S. raid on Wednesday, police and witnesses said. The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an al Qaeda militant from a house.
A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged at the killings and demanded an explanation from the U.S. military.
Television footage showed the bodies in the Tikrit morgue -- five children, two men and four women. Their wounds were not clear though one infant had a gaping head wound.
A freelance photographer later saw them being buried by weeping men in Ishaqi, the town 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad where the raid took place.
The U.S. military said in a statement its troops had attacked a house in Ishaqi early on Wednesday to capture a "foreign fighter facilitator for the al Qaeda in Iraq network".
"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.
"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."
Keefe said the al Qaeda suspect had been captured and was being questioned.
Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children.
"After they left the house they blew it up," he said.
Another policeman, Colonel Farouq Hussein, said autopsies had been carried out at Tikrit hospital and found "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head".
The bodies, their hands bound, had been dumped in one room before the house was destroyed, Hussein said. Police had found spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble.
"It's a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," he said.
Police in Salahaddin province, a heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the home region of Saddam Hussein, have frequently criticised U.S. military tactics in the area.
Police officers said the U.S. military had asked for a meeting with local tribal leaders. The Joint Co-ordination Centre in Tikrit which coordinates between U.S. and Iraqi security forces said later the meeting would happen on Friday.
Ishaqi's town administrator, Rasheed Shather, said the town was shocked: "Everyone went to the funeral. We want the Americans to give us an explanation for this horrible crime."
Photographs of the funeral showed men crying as five children, who all looked under the age of five, were wrapped in blankets and then lined up in a row. One man who described himself as a relative said one was just seven months old.
"They killed these innocent children. Are these considered terrorists? Is a seven-month-old child a terrorist?" he said angrily, speaking close to the remains of the house.
Local teacher Faeq Nsaef was also outraged: ""An entire family was killed. It's a barbarian act."
In January a U.S. air strike on a house in Baiji, further north, killed several members of a family. In December U.S. fighter jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on a village, also in the region, killing 10 people. The U.S. military said the people targeted had been suspected of planting roadside bombs. (Additional reporting by Ghazwan al-Jibouri in Tikrit and Aseel Kami in Baghdad)
BALAD, IRAQ: The bodies of Iraqi children, who were allegedly killed during a U.S. raid near the city of Balad, north of Baghdad, are seen near a garveyard ready to to be buried, 15 March 2006. Eleven people, most of them women and children were killed in a house that was bombed during a U.S. raid. Four Iraqis were killed, including two women and a child, in a US military operation on Wednesday against suspected Al-Qaeda members north of Baghdad, the US military said. US forces raided a house 80 kilometers north of Baghdad, near the town of Balad, searching for a suspected facilitator for Al-Qaeda in the area. AFP PHOTO/DIA HAMID (Photo credit should read DIA HAMID/AFP/Getty Images)
After coming under fire in the village of Ishaki, American soldiers ran away and called in the bombs. Five children and two women were among the dead.
Frightened after being fired upon during one of their infamous pre-dawn raids on the village of Ishaki, U.S. troops ran back to the safety of their armored vehicles and called in an airstrike. Five children, two women, and two men were slaughtered as their house collapsed under American bombs.
A video tape uncovered by Time Magazine showing evidence of an attack on Iraqi civilians in Haditha has renewed human rights calls for investigations into possible war crimes by the U.S. military. The Pentagon announced that 12 Marines were under investigation for the deaths shown in the video tape.