March 21, 2006

Can someone say "My Lai"?

Julian Borger reports in today's Guardian (U.K.) an Iraqi police report:
After listing other incidents in the area, the report for March 15 states: "American forces used helicopters to drop troops on the house of Faiz Harat Khalaf situated in the Abu Sifa village of the Ishaqi district. The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people, including five children, four women and two men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals." Among victims the report lists two five-year-old children, two three-year-olds and a six-month-old baby.

The US military say that the deaths occurred when US troops raided a house in pursuit of an al-Qaida suspect and that only four people were killed. Major Tim Keefe, a US military spokesman in Baghdad said: "A battle damage assessment, the initial reports, said that what they saw were four people killed - a woman and two children and an enemy - and they detained an enemy."

Brigadier General Issa al-Juboori, who runs the joint coordination centre in Tikrit, stood by the report and said he knew the police officer running the investigation. "He's a dedicated policeman, and a good cop," Gen Juboori told Knight Ridder. "I trust him."

Both accounts of the incident agree there was a firefight in the early hours of the morning when US troops raided a house which an al-Qaida suspect was suspected to be visiting. The American account said the house collapsed as a result of the firefight, killing two women, a child, and a man believed to have al-Qaida links. The suspect survived and was captured. But the Iraqi police report suggests that the killings took place when the house was still standing. A local police commander, Lieutenant Colonel Farooq Hussain, said hospital autopsies "revealed that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed".
Borger also notes the current investigation of another massacre last year:
In last year's Haditha incident, US troops are accused of killing civilians after a bomb attack. An initial marine report on the incident said a roadside bomb on November 19 last year killed a lance corporal and 15 Iraqi civilians. But further investigation revealed that the civilians had been shot with marine weapons after the blast.

A nine-year-old survivor, Eman Waleed, who lived in a house 150 metres from the roadside bomb attack told Time magazine that after the explosion her father began reading the Qur'an. "First, they went into my father's room, where he was reading the Qur'an, and we heard shots," she said. "I couldn't see their faces very well, only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny."
anarchism, anarchosyndicalism