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Many thanks to Hassan for taking time to circulate this series. The Asia Times-on-Line deserves to be read regularly. It publishes some the very best online news with thoughtful commentaries by first-rate writers. pg ----- Original Message ----- From: "Hassan" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "CASI" <email@example.com> Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2003 6:57 AM Subject: [casi] EVERY TIME THE WIND BLOWS - Part 5 > EVERY TIME THE WIND BLOWS > By Nir Rosen, with the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment > in Iraq > > http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EJ30Ak02.html > > PART 5 (final) > The wrong Ayoub > > AL-QAIM, western Iraq - According to a major from the > Judge Advocate General's office working on > establishing an Iraqi judicial process, at least > 7,000 Iraqis are being detained by US forces. Many > languish in prisons indefinitely, lost in a system > that imposes English-language procedures on Arabic > speakers with Arabic names not easily transcribed. > > Some are termed "security detainees" and held for six > months pending a review to determine whether they are > still a "security risk". Most are innocent. Many were > arrested simply because a neighbor did not like them. > A lieutenant-colonel familiar with the process adds > that there is no judicial process for the thousands of > detainees. If the military were to try them, that > would entail a court martial, which would imply that > the United States is occupying Iraq, and lawyers > working for the administration are still debating > whether it is an occupation or a liberation. > > The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's (ACR) S2 section, > responsible for intelligence, has not proved itself > very reliable in the past and soldiers are getting > frustrated. "You get all psyched up to do a hard > mission," says Sergeant Scott Blow, "and it turns out > to be three little girls. The little kids get to me, > especially when they cry." Even the Central > Intelligence Agency (CIA) operator could not recognize > a large picture of Oday Saddam Husayn, one of Saddam's > sons, hanging on a wall. > > The little confidence S2 deserves is made clear by the > case of a man called Ayoub. Apache Troop, acting on > intelligence Captain Ray and his S2 staff have > provided it, raids Ayoub's home. Tanks, Bradleys and > Humvees squeeze through the neighborhood walls as the > CIA operator eyes the rooftops and windows of nearby > houses angrily, a silencer on his assault weapon. > Soldiers break through Ayoub's door early in the > morning, and when he does not immediately respond to > their orders he is shot with non-lethal ordnance, > little pellets exploding like gun shot from the > weapon's grenade launcher. The floor of the house is > covered with his blood. He is dragged into a room and > interrogated forcefully as his family is pushed back > against their garden's fence. > > Ayoub's frail mother, covered in a shawl, with > traditional tribal tattoos marking her face, pleads > with the immense soldier to spare her son's life, > protesting his innocence. She takes the soldier's hand > and kisses it repeatedly while on her knees. He pushes > her to the grass along with Ayoub's four girls and two > boys, all small, and his wife. > > They squat barefoot, screaming, their eyes wide open > in terror, clutching each one another as soldiers > emerge with bags full of documents, photo albums and > two compact discs with Saddam Hussein and his cronies > on the cover. These CDs, called The Crimes of Saddam, > are common on every Iraqi street and, as their title > suggests, they were not made by Saddam supporters. But > the soldiers saw only the picture of Saddam and > assumed they were proof of guilt. > Ayoub is brought out and pushed on to the truck. He > gestures to his shrieking family to remain where they > are. He is an avuncular man, small and round, balding > and unshaven, with a hooked nose and slightly > pockmarked face. It would be impossible for him to > look more innocent. He sits frozen, staring numbly > ahead as the soldiers ignore him, occasionally > glancing down at their prisoner with sneering disdain. > The medic looks at Ayoub's injured hand and chuckles > to his friends, "It ain't my hand." The truck blasts > country music on the way back to the base. Ayoub is > thrown in the detainment center. After the operation > there are smiles of relief among the soldiers, slaps > on the back and thumbs up. > > Several hours later a call is intercepted from another > Ayoub. "Oh shit," says Captain Ray, "it was the wrong > Ayoub." The innocent father of six who has the wrong > name is not immediately let go. If he is released they > risk revealing to the other Ayoub that he is sought > after. The night after his arrest a relieved Ayoub can > be seen escorted by soldiers to call his family and > tell them he is fine, but will not be home for a few > days. "It was not the wrong guy," Captain Justin Brown > says defensively, shifting blame elsewhere. "We raided > the house we were supposed to and arrested the man we > were told to." > > When the soldiers who captured Ayoub learn of the > mistake, they are not surprised. "Oops," says one. > Another one wonders, "What do you tell a guy like > that, 'sorry'?" A third says: "It's depressing. We > trashed the wrong guy's house, and the guy that's been > shooting at us is out there with his house not > trashed." The soldier who shot the non-lethal ordnance > at Ayoub says, "I'm just glad he didn't do something > that made me shoot him." Then the soldiers resume > their banter. Lieutenant-Colonel Gregg Reilly, the > squadron commander, acknowledges that he will have to > make a big gesture of apology. "I can't just drop him > off at home and say 'sorry'," he says. "We embarrassed > him in front of his family." > > The tapes of the other Ayoub's conversations are sent > for analysis. In them he speaks of proceeding to the > next level and obtaining landmines and other weapons. > This rightfully alarms the army's intelligence > officers. They are confounded by the meaning of the > intercepted conversation until somebody realizes it is > not a terrorist intent on obtaining weapons. It is a > kid playing video games and talking about them with > his friend on the phone. > > The procrustean application of spurious information > gathered by intelligence officers who cannot speak > Arabic and are not familiar with Iraqi, Arab or Muslim > culture is creating enemies instead of eliminating > them. One intelligence officer of the 3rd ACR can > barely hide his disdain for Iraqis. "Oh, he just hates > anything Iraqi," explains an officer engaged in > operations on Tiger Base, adding that the intelligence > officers do not venture off the base or interact with > Iraqis or develop any relations with the people they > are expected to understand. > > A lieutenant-colonel from the army's civil affairs > office explains that these officers do not read about > the soldiers engaging with Iraqis, sharing cigarettes, > tea, meals and conversations. They only read the > reports of "incidents", and they view Iraqis solely as > a security threat. They do not know Iraq. > > In every market in Iraq, hundreds of wooden crates can > be found piled one atop the other. Sold for storage, > on further examination these crates reveal themselves > to be old ammunition crates. For the past 25 years > Iraq has been importing weapons to feed its army's > appetite for war against Iran, the Kurds, Kuwait and > the United States. The empty crates are sold for > domestic use. The soldiers of the 3rd ACR assume the > crates they find in nearly every home implicate the > owners in terrorist activities, rather than the much > simpler truth. > > During Operation Decapitation, one of Apache's > soldiers discovered one such crate overturned above a > small hole dug into a man's back yard. "He was trying > to bury it when he saw us coming," one soldier deduced > confidently. He did not lift the crate up to discover > that it was protecting irrigation pipes and hoses that > had been dug into a pit. > > Saddam bestowed his largesse on the security services > that served as his Praetorian guard and executioners. > Elite fighters received Jawa motorcycles. Immediately > after the war, Jawa motorcycles were available in > every market in Iraq that sold scooters and > motorcycles. Some had been stolen from government > buildings in the frenzy of looting that followed the > war and which was directed primarily against > institutions of the former government. > > Soldiers of the 3rd ACR are always alert for Jawa > motorcycles, and indeed it is true that many Iraqi > paramilitaries have used them against the Americans. > On a night that Apache receives RPG (rocket-propelled > grenade) fire at the border checkpoint, they drive > back to Tiger Base through the town. When they spot a > man on a Jawa, they fire warning shots. When he does > not stop, they shoot him to death. "He was up to no > good," Captain Brown explains. > > Reilly maintains that Jawas are fedayeen > (paramilitaries loyal to Saddam) motorcycles and that > most curfew violators and placers of improvised > explosive device use them. Sheikh Mudhafar of the > local Huseiba mosque claims to know the victim. "He > was an innocent construction worker," he says. "I saw > the dirt from the gypsum on his hands myself. Now tell > me if his father or brother is going to thank the > Americans." > > The day after Tiger Strike, Reilly meets with the > clerical and tribal leaders, deliberately arranging > the meeting immediately after the operation so that he > can explain to them what he has done and why. In > previous meetings following operations, community > leaders have informed him of innocent men he has > arrested, and he has deferred to their judgment and > released them. > > The clerics ask Reilly to release a religious leader > he has arrested. "They said it looked bad to arrest > him, they didn't say it was the wrong guy," Reilly > explains later. The tribal sheikhs also ask for one > man to be released because his wife has kidney failure > and there is nobody else to take her to Jordan for > treatment. The Solomon-like Reilly discusses the issue > of paying reparations for the innocent man his > soldiers killed by the border checkpoint, a common way > of administering justice among Arab tribes of the > region. > > Reilly is very concerned about the way Iraqis perceive > US troops. "I am responsible for administering justice > here for the whole area," he says. "We cannot treat > the Iraqis as second-class citizens." He discusses the > coming holy month of Ramadan with the clerics, meeting > with them at the local Islamic school and agreeing to > lift the curfew that normally extends from 2300 until > 0400 for that month, when Muslims fast during the day > but eat and enjoy festivities at night. Three RPGs are > shot at the school. "The clerics were in terror," > Reilly says afterward. "They were very angry. It was > good for them to feel that terror." It is the third > time Reilly has personally been attacked. > > The next night the 3rd ACR's Bandit Troop departs the > base at 0200, hoping to find those alleged al-Qaeda > suspects who were not home during Operation Tiger > Strike two days before. Soldiers descend on homes in a > large compound, their boots trampling over mattresses, > in rooms the inhabitants do not enter with shoes on. > Most of the wanted men are nowhere to be found, their > women and children prevaricating about their > locations. Some of their relatives are arrested > instead. "That woman is annoying!" complains one young > soldier of a mother's desperate ululations as her son > is taken from his house. "How do you think your mother > would sound if they were taking you away?" First > Sergeant Clinton Reiss asks him. > > They return to the base at 9am. That day there is a > pizza party at the chow hall. Soldiers guard the > detainees, go out on patrols, and battle the desert, > sweeping away the sand desert winds have blown on > their temporary home. But the sand comes back every > time the wind blows. > > (Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights > reserved. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for > information on our sales and syndication policies.) > > > __________________________________ > Do you Yahoo!? > Exclusive Video Premiere - Britney Spears > http://launch.yahoo.com/promos/britneyspears/ > > _______________________________________________ > Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. > To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss > To contact the list manager, email email@example.com > All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk