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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #61 - 1 msg

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Today's Topics:

   1. Fallujah (


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2004 14:49:20 EDT
Subject: Fallujah

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Subject:- Fw:- Fallujah

From: "Kevin & Helen Williams" <>

Tue, 13 Apr 2004 08:24:18 +0000

Bagdad  12 April 2004
On Friday night Lee and Ghareeb called to see us asking if any of us wanted
to go to Fallujah to try to take aid in and get people out. They told us how
they hgad been back and fro the past 3 days, how so nmany people were dying
there and about human rights abuses being perpetrated by the soldiers. they
said that there were long queues of families trying to leave, the soldiers
were making their life hard, making them wait hours to cross checkpoints.
They were not letting men of 'military age' cross. These men were taking
their wives and children out and then returning to the city , in many cases,
to fight. We heard how the hspitals were unable to cope with the huge
numbers of casualties and how one had been bombed. Ghareeb would be able to
sort out a safe passage through for us if we managed to get through the
American checkpoints. Julia, Jo, Wejdy and myself agreed to go the next
morning. We were due to leave early the next morning but we were waiting for
$1000 of blood equipment to arrive. The delivery was late because it was
coming from the other side of Bagdad and there was a battle going on in
Adhimaya, not far from our friend Issam's house. We had to decide whether to
wait for it to arrive or go straightaway. If we waited, it would mean
staying in Gurma (nearby resistance village to Fallujah - attacked last
night), but if we went without it we were risking our lives to go with less
aid. In the end we opted to leave at 2 pm, with or without the blood
equipment to give ourselves a chance of being able to return to bagdad that
We went in a long bus, about the size of the coaches we use at home in order
to be able to fill it with refugees/injured people in Fallujah. If we could
not get into Fallujah, our intention was to go to the maerican checkpoints
to help refugees get through them - the soldiers were making life hard on
the checkpoints, keeping progress slow and not allowing everyone to pass,
especially any men of 'military age'. Ghareeb, Lee and Aziz (the sheik's
nephew from Gurma village) went in a car in front of the bus to sort out the
checkpoints ahead of us.
We made our way out of Bagdad and onto the highway to Fallujah. The highway
was littered with burnt out vehicles - most were petrol tankers, but there
were also many destroyed American military vehicles too. We passed a huge
convoy of American military lorries carrying containers with DHFM (Detention
Holding Facility Material) inside and long lorries carrying wood with the
same initials stamped on it - there must have been enough to build several
detention holding facilities. Then we passed a lorry which was being looted
by people from a local village. We drove by quickly. Then we came to the
American checkpoints - there were long queues of traffic waiting to go
through. We were lucky at both - they did not really bother to search our
bags of the bus that much and they only body searchewd the males. They said
they were pleased to see friendly faces, speaking English! Indeed we had
been friendly, teasing them about their suntans andtelling them to put
plenty of lotion on - after all we wanted to get through!
We left the highway at Abu Gharib, passing the huge tented prison there and
then crossed country towards Fallujah. The countryside here is stunning, a
lush 'cartoon' green - peaceful and beautiful. We passed through Mujahadeen
checkpoints with ease - please note Mujahadeen means 'freedom fighter',
nothing more, nothing less. People were shouting goodluck to us and
blessing/thanking us for going to Fallujah. At one junction some boys threw
bread and cake into the bus for us.
As we approached Fallujah on these back roads they deteriorated becoming no
more than a bumpy dirt track, barely 2 cars wide. Coming the other way were
cars full of families and their possessions and vehicles with signs on them
reading 'Aid to Fallujah - from the people of Hilla/Nagaf/Ramadi' for
example. It seemed that all the people of Iraq, whether Shia, Sunni or
Christian wanted to help Fallujah with whatever they could - water (there is
no clean drinking water in Fallujah), blankets, food or medical aid - it was
wonderful to see.
As we approached Fallujah, we could see a mosque through the dust in the
distance. More Mujahadeen lined the road. At one point they stopped us and
greeted us, smiling, waving and posing for photos with their weapons -
mainly RPGs, AK47's and RPK's (machine guns). Then they started shooting
into the air above the bus - the sound was deafening.
We drove through fallujah's deserted streets (apart from fighters and the
odd group of children) - we had to duck at one point as we passed an
American sniper position - to the hospital. The hospital we went to was more
of a clinic - 5 beds in a row and a room at the back for the doctors.
We unloaded the aid and Maky, the hospital manager who spoke English, told
us of recent events there.  He said how Fallujah badly needed more aid -
they were running short of all sorts of medicine and hospital/surgical
equipment - indeed the city was completely out of any pain relief or
He also told us about the American soldiers shooting at ambulances and he
showed us their last ambulance shot at this morning - it had bullet holes in
the front and back windows and on the roof, but it was still being used,
there was no choice. And he told us about the horrific casualty numbers and
the terrible injuries being sustained by people there. Antother aid worker
there repeated the same.
We went into the hosptial. Suddenly a young boy was brought in. He had been
shot in the head by an American sniper while his family had tried to leave
their house WAVING A WHITE FLAG. His parents were grief stricken, his father
covered in his son's blood. They told us to film their dying son, I hated
to, but I took his photo and I have emailed it to Kevin so you can see what
the Americans are doing in Fallujah. At the same time, a middle aged woman
was brought in - she had been shot in the abdomen and chest - we could hear
her lungs filled with blood as she tried to breath - she later died too - I
have also sent her photo. She had come into the sight of a sniper and he had
indiscrimainatley shot her - a woman in her chadoor, not a fighter, no gun
in hand.
We felt shocked and so sad - it was horrible.
We then decide to spit into groups of 3 - one boy, one girl and one
translator in each. We were going to accompany vehicles to collect injured
people around the city. Unfortunately there was only one available vehicle -
a mujahadeen pick up truck. Jo, Dave and Raina set off, passports held
aloft. They were going to another hospital to get an injured man - no one
could go into the hospital because of american snipers all around it and
this man had been shot by one. It was a dangerous venture, but they went and
when they got there they shouted to the snipers who did not shoot. Sadly the
man was already dead, lying in the street. They brought him to the hospital.
  Then they went again, this time in the already damaged ambulance with
Ghareeb driving. The hospital had received a call about a pregnanat woman in
difficulty about to give birth. As they approached the house the ambulance
came under heavy sniper fire - Jo said about red flashes going past her
head, the bullets were so close. They shot out a tyre and then Ghareeb burst
2 more escaping from the scene. Thankfully they were all uninjured - but now
we have the proof - THE AMERICAN ARMY SHOOT AT AMBULANCES - no wonder they
don't sign up to the Internatgional Criminal Court.
So many injured people were being brought to the hosptial - many of them
resistance fighters with horrific injuries - gunshot wounds and blood
We met a small boy, he wa actually 15 years old and he had volunteered to
drive his dad's small van - a makeshift ambulance, with signs written in red
on white sheets taped to the side of the vehicle. We were struck by his
bravery. We also met another small boy, he was an 11 year old mujahadeen
fighter, masked by his yeshmack and holding his AK47 - the gun was almost as
tall as him. It was a tragedy - how scarred by these events will this young
boy be when he grows up - if he survives? He and his family probably thought
he would have as much chance surviving if he fought as if he did not - it
was a very sad sight.
At 7 pm Fallujah was under curfew. The mosque called out warning everyone
that curfew had just begun and to be careful. Then some missiles were fired
at positions not far away. The mosque started again, this time calling on
everyone to fight the enemy and resist. It finished with calls of 'Allah
Akbar' - God is great. Everyone around joined in including all the
Mujahadeen fighters, holding their guns aloft and firing into the air. It
was something I will never forget - I found it so moving.
During the day the doctors in the hospital had been fighting to save one
particular man's life - they had brough him back to life with CPR but with
no life support machines or anything like it they had to keep working on
him, keeping his legs held up in the air. Each time we went passed we would
hope and pray he would make it. Just after curfew he died - we knew because
a friend came outside crying uncontrollably. Seeing these brave fighting men
break down and cry just adds to the tragedy that it Fallujah.
We now had to make a decision whether to stay in Fallujah or try to leave
during the curfew. Ghareeb told us that the road was secure for us and we
could try to get back to Bagdad. We discussed it and there seemed little
point in risking it and we decided to saty. We could have stayed in the
hospital but felt we would get in the way and so we were taken to a nearby
house for the night. Before we left some missles landed not far away - we
tried to work ourt how far from the time between the flash and the boom - it
was not much time - we reckoned on about 1 klilometre away. Not long after
we saw the results. A car sped up to the hospital door containing 2 badly
burnt men - one was burnt all over his body - the smell oif his burning
flesh was unbearable. We cannot even begin to imagine his pain - and the
hosptial, as I mentioned before, had not pain relief for him.
We made our way in the darkness to the house. Suddenly we heard a plane
above us - it dropped flares over us. At first we thought we were being
bombed and we took cover against a wall, Raul managing to fall and twist his
ankle in the panic. two lots of flares we dropped over us so we had to hurry
- after all we were walking in the streets after curfew.
The house we were taken to for the night belonged to the father of the 15 yr
old ambulance driver. He and his brother were the cutist boys I have ever
seen - they kept bringing us water and chai all eveng. The house was lovely,
very posh and we were given lovely food to eat - all of it veggie, most of
it vegan (for those of you who like to know these details). Us vegans had
bread, beans and date jam and sesame biscuits. A missile landed not too far
away and we opened the windows to stop them shattering should there be any
more close hits.
None of us slept much in the night - I don't know if that was due to bombs
or mosquitos, or one of the men snoring in the next room, but I was glad
when morning came. It was so peaceful in the morning - we were in a pleasant
suburb with lots of trees - the birds were singing - it was surreal.
We had breakfast and left. The peace did not last long and as we made our
way through the streets
we could here fighting in the distance - we kept alongside walls in single
file along the roads.
As we approached the hospital we could see more and more families in the
area around it. There were women and men with there beautiful children all
looking for transport and a way out of the city before the bombardment that
everyone was sure would come today.
More and more injured people arrived - and many more fighters - thankfully
some were able to walk.
Jo, Dave and Raina left to do one last pick up before we left. They went to
a house where the unarmed father had been shot dear by a sniper - he was
surrounded by his wife and children - crying in anguish and grief. They
brought the body to the hospital. They shouted to the Americans not to shoot
- the soldiers were surprised to see them. they told them to get out of
Fallujah as air strikes would begin soon (but they could not say when) and
they siad they woulod start to sweep up the main road carrying out house
searches for weapons.
Meanwhile we were taken to the hospital morge - they wanted us to take
photos/films of the dead.
I have emailed this photo also. The nearest body is 18 year old Hussam, the
next one (in the middle) was a 21 year old called Mohammed and the furthest
one was another Hussam - I don't know his age, but they uncovered his bloody
injured body and he looked in his twenties. While we were there his brother
arrived to collect his body. During the night 12 people had died in this
small hospital/clinic - that is not including those we saw die the day
We were loading up the bus with injured peole when a very excited mujahadeen
fighter came across the road - he had just shot and killed an American
sniper (we later heard about it on the news) and he was overjoyed. It is
hard to see death greeted with such happiness and celebration, but seeing
the suffering and cruelty endured by the people in Fallujah, I came some way
to understanding it.
We took about 8 injured people including the badly burnt man, some young
fighters with bullet wounds, another young man with shot arm and cut up eye
and face, another with a bullet hole in his neck and one with a broken leg.
And 2 women with gunshot wounds - one of them very close to death. As the
burnt man was taken onto the bus, the hosptial security man could take no
more - he just broke down in tears and sat down for a while. Soon I saw him
up and about again continuing his work.
The road out of Fallujah was made safe for us and we set off. The streets
were deserted except for the fighters in their positions ready for the
American onslaught of their city.
As we drove out across the desert we could see American tanks and humvees
charging back and fro - not quite sure what they were doing but they were
raising plenty of dust. We joined the traffic leaving Fallujah and we were
pleased to see that pick up trucks of aid were still going the other way
into the city. (It has been repored on the news today that there are 3000
people from fallujah out in this dusty desert).
We passed the Mujahadeen checkpoints and the villages and made it back to
the main highway. As we approached the first American checkpoint, all the
Westerners on board moved to the front of the bus so they would be seen
first. The car with Lee, Ghareeb and Dave stopped and they got out and
walked up to the soldiers, their hands up. They spoke to the Americans and
returned and we moved forward slowly in the bus (we approach all American
checkpoints slowly and with caution!)
The soldiers did not search the bus, they just stepped on, had a quick look
and gave us humvee escort to the next checkpoint - somehting we certainly
did not want and which, in fact, put us in more danger!
At the next checkpoint, those of us who could walk had to get off the bus
with passport

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