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[casi] US troops turn botched Saddam raid into a massacre

1) US troops turn botched Saddam raid into a massacre

2)  “The Publication of the Uday and Qusay Photographs will Prove
to be Either a Stroke of Genius or a Historic Mistake of Catastrophic



US troops turn botched Saddam raid into a massacre

By Robert Fisk in Baghdad
The independent, 28 July 2003
28 July 2003

Obsessed with capturing Saddam Hussein, American soldiers turned a
botched raid on a house in the Mansur district of Baghdad yesterday
into a bloodbath, opening fire on scores of Iraqi civilians in a
crowded street and killing up to 11, including two children, their
mother and crippled father. At least one civilian car caught fire,
cremating its occupants.

The vehicle carrying the two children and their mother and father was
riddled by bullets as it approached a razor-wired checkpoint outside
the house.

Amid the fury generated among the largely middle-class residents of
Mansur ­ by ghastly coincidence, the killings were scarcely 40 metres
from the houses in which 16 civilians died when the Americans tried
to kill Saddam towards the end of the war in April ­ whatever
political advantages were gained by the killing of Saddam's sons have
been squandered. A doctor at the Yarmouk hospital, which received
four of the dead, turned on me angrily last night, shouting: "If an
American came to my emergency room, maybe I would kill him."

Two civilians, both believed to have been driving with their
families, were brought to the Yarmouk, one with abdominal wounds and
the other with "his brain outside of his head", according to another
At the scene of the killings, there was pandemonium. While US troops
were loading the bullet-shattered cars on trucks ­ and trying to stop
cameramen filming the carnage ­ crowds screamed abuse at them. One
American soldier a few feet from me climbed into the seat of his
Humvee, threw his helmet on the floor of the vehicle and
shouted: "Shit! Shit!"

There was no doubt about the target: the home of Sheikh Rabia Mohamed
Habib, a prominent tribal leader who had met Saddam but who was not
even in his house when the Americans stormed it. One report says they
killed a guard as they entered.

"The Americans searched the house completely, very roughly," Sheikh
Habib said. "It seems they thought Saddam Hussein was inside."

It appears the killings started as the troops were searching the
building and as motorists approached the barbed wire which the
soldiers had placed without warning across the road. Witnesses said
the first car contained at least two men. "The second contained two
children about 10, their mother and their father who had been wounded
in the Iran-Iraq war ­ he was a cripple," a local shopkeeper told
me. "They all died. The man's legs were cut in half by the bullets,"
he added. A third car then approached the Americans, who opened fire
again. One of the occupants fled, but the other two remained in the
vehicle and were killed.

When another car arrived US troops riddled it with more bullets and
it burst into flames. It is believed that two people were inside and
both were burnt to death. "The Americans didn't try to help the
civilians they had shot, not once," a witness said. "They let the car
burn and left the bodies where they lay, even the children. It was we
who had to take them to the hospitals."

Yet again, false informers, ill-trained American soldiers who
appeared to exercise no fire control and a lack of military planning
has created a tragedy among the people the Americans claimed to
be 'liberating' from Saddam Hussein only 15 weeks ago. Last night,
there were reports from the southern city of Karbala that three men
had been shot dead by American troops during a demonstration.



Friday, July 25th, 2003
Robert Fisk: “The Publication of the Uday and Qusay Photographs will Prove
to be Either a Stroke of Genius or a Historic Mistake of Catastrophic

Listen to: Segment;

As the U.S. releases the bloody and grisly photos of two men identified as
the sons of Saddam Hussein we go to Baghdad to hear from London Independent
reporter Robert Fisk about the reaction in Iraq.

Robert Fisk of the London Independent writes in his latest article:

“The publication of the Uday and Qusay photographs will prove to be either a
stroke of genius or a historic mistake of catastrophic consequences….The
occupation authorities are pondering the idea of plastering the pictures
around Baghdad. But be sure, they will soon be used as martyrs' photographs
on posters with a somewhat different message. The work of the Americans. The
work of the occupiers.”

Fisk continues to say:

“In Iraq, I suspect, there will be a growing number of young men who will
see the need in these pictures not to content themselves with regime change,
with the realisation that they can believe in a new future, but to revenge
themselves upon the foreigners in Iraq, to avoid the further humiliation of
occupation. They may not have been Ba'athists. They may have hated the sons
of Saddam. But after death can come a remarkable reversal of fortunes for
the dead.”

Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the London Independent speaking
from Baghdad.


AMY GOODMAN: I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez, Robert Fisk back on the
line with us from Baghdad. In his latest London Independent article, he talk
s about the release of the photographs of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Robert,
can you talk about the effect they've had and your thoughts about it -- both
the killings and the photos?

ROBERT FISK: Yeah, well, you just caught me as I've come back from doing a
series of house hold trips around Baghdad to buy a plug for my bath and
other things which you can't get in hotels here. Every shop I went into, I
made a point of asking both people buying the products and the people behind
the counter, what they thought of the pictures. There's a very interesting
response -- partly because it lined up pretty much with what I thought it
would be in this morning's paper, and partly because it's a kind of a
lose-lose situation for the Americans. More than 60% of the I guess 42, 43,
44 people I spoke to, believe that the picture of Uday was Uday, but they
believed--only a minority believed the picture of Qusay was genuine because
Qusay never had a beard and he does in the photograph. Several Iraqis asked
why didn't they shave his beard off before taking a picture of him. The
majority who do believe in the Uday picture, unfortunately for the
Americans, a majority of them believe he should have been captured and put
before a court so justice could be done and civil society could see real
justice taking place, not a kind of drum head court whereby you yell for the
guy to surrender on a bull horn and then storm the place with missiles and
rocket-firing helicopters. An awful lot of Iraqis, by far the greater
majority of those I spoke to today, complained bitterly there was no justice
in this. That if the Americans had wanted to take these two men alive, they
would have done so. A couple of them mentioned Manuel Noriega who was, of
course, sieged in the embassy and was eventually got hold of. And I must
say, I put this question to General Ricardo Sanchez, the American commander
in Iraq in a press conference he gave three days ago when he was boasting
about the brilliance of his troops in Mosul. And I said Hold on a second
General, we have a problem here. These guys…should have been put on a war
crimes trial. There should be justice here. Surely, the American military,
the most powerful in the world, could have surrounded that house – you only
had four men with kalasnikovs, and one of them in fact, which is not being
talked about very much in the United States, was not a man, he was a
14-year-old boy, he was Qusay's son, Mustapha--you couldn't even capture
them? What went wrong? And he said, it was an operational decision. I said
this is an operational question, General. And he said that was a question
that had to be answered by men on the ground and they did that and I agree.
And that was that. But there were an awful lot of people including quite a
few American officers here, take the same view as I do. And a Colonel came
up to me after the General was finished being rather snotty with me and
said, that's a good question and he didn't give you a proper reply. Well of
course I noticed that too. It seems to many Iraqis that the intention was to
kill them, not to capture them. That the attempt to make them--the four
people -- individuals I know Sanchez called them, they didn't want to
mention the child, of course-- the attempt to make them surrender was pretty
much a formality. And it does suggest that no …is going to be given if
Saddam Hussein is surrounded. The Americans want him dead. The strange thing
even for those people who have no reason to love Saddam Hussein, people -- I
met one young man who would have liked to have personally shot Uday in the
face, they both started saying things like at least they didn't die as
cowards. And I said it looks like Uday may have shot himself, because of the
wounds, the injuries to the teeth and the nose, his response was, well at
least he left the last bullet for himself. And in a society like this, which
is a tribal society rather than a Ba’athist society or a religious or a
secular one, the idea of going down fighting against a foreigner and leaving
the last bullet for yourself is not an unheroic one. And the real fear I
think here--I don't think the Americans or the British have spotted this in
their marble palace in which they organized their occupation here--the real
fear, I think, is in death Uday and Qusay will be relieved of their
brutalities in the national memory and will become among the first fighters
to struggle and die against the American occupation force – I mean after the
war was over. And everybody I spoke to today -- without exception, including
the most mild-mannered middle class people, including the father of my own
driver who is a friend of mine, all said the Americans must go -- they must
go now. We don't accept occupational forces in this country. I noticed out
at Dora yesterday, which is a long main highway near the power station that
runs along the Tigris river, a new graffiti had gone up in red paint -- very
close to the scene of an ambush of an American humvee a little earlier on in
the day. And it said on it, There are 27,000 warriors from the al-Jabura
tribe -- a tribe close to the clan of Saddam Hussein who are ready to
threaten and throw the Americans out of Iraq. If you go down to places like
Falluja and others, Ramadi, for example, places that have been characterized
by the United States to have been die hard loyalists, Ba’athists, remnant
areas. Many of the people didn't like Saddam Hussein and say they didn't
like him, but they are adamant the Americans must leave and are beginning to
truly hate the Americans. It was very interesting, a young American soldier
was blown up by a mine in his humvee in a place called Ham dari, which was
six miles from Falluja. And I went down there. Unfortunately, I was the only
reporter to show up because I was confronted by a very hostile crowd
afterwards, it's seems to be my fate to be confronted by hostile crowds. And
the Americans were still there clearing up the damage and taking away their
ruined vehicle. They’d got the young soldier away with terrible wound his
side and, of course, he sadly died. And when I spoke to the crowd there, the
re appeared to be Wahabi Sunnis who had no love for Saddam, but were enraged
by the presence of the Americans. I think there's a whole series of reasons
why this happened. One of them was the shooting dead of 16 demonstrators by,
I think it was the 82nd airborne, in the very early days of the occupation
once the bombardment of Iraq was over. And following from that various
tribal demands for revenge against the Americans to make up for the death of
Iraqis. And children for example, regularly storm the U.S. troops now in the
whole Ramadi/Falluja area. I went down a few weeks ago actually to Falluja,
where there was a house-to-house search going on after the death of a 101st
airborne soldier, who was killed with a rocket-propelled grenade. And there
was a very nice New York police officer who was serving the military police,
who started chatting to me and said you can come and -- he's OK, he kept
shouting to the other soldiers, and I was allowed to go across the line and
go around the houses as the American soldiers kicked in the doors, and no
one was very grateful for the feelings of freedom the Americans had for the

AMY GOODMAN: Robert, we have 30 seconds.-

ROBERT FISK: What I saw--Hello, there?

AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.

ROBERT FISK: OK. What I saw gave me the impression that they were losing
hearts and minds, not winning hearts and minds. At the end of the day, that
is what the Americans are going to deal with -- a hostile population. It's
not about Saddam anymore.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, I want to thank you very much for being with us of
the Independent, now in Baghdad. One of his latest pieces says The
publication of the Uday and Qusay photographs will prove to be either a
stroke of genius or a historic mistake of catastrophic consequences.

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