Innocent bystanders

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Aug 27 11:33:27 MDT 2003

NY Times, Aug. 27, 2003
How and Why Did Iraqi Die? 2 Tales of Anger and Denial

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 26 — Any of Ali Muhsin's neighbors can describe the 
scene after he was shot by the Americans.

First he stumbled around the corner, dripping blood, and collapsed near 
the front door of his home. His neighbors hailed a taxi to take him to 
the hospital, but then a Humvee roared down the street and blocked the way.

An American soldier leaped out and ran up to Ali, firing a shot in the 
air to scatter the crowd, then aiming his rifle at the boy. The boy's 
mother, Rajaa Yousif Matti, implored the soldier not to kill him. She 
wept and wailed. She pleaded in Arabic that he had done nothing wrong 
and begged to put him in the taxi. She kissed the soldier's boots. But 
she could not get through to the American.

"If they had let us take him to the hospital, my son would still be 
alive," she said two days later, at Ali's funeral, weeping once again as 
she accused the soldiers of killing her son by letting him bleed on the 
pavement for hours. "It does not matter if you are a Muslim or a 
Christian or a Jew. How could anyone treat a human being this way?"


Major Delgado and the soldiers described in interviews what happened:

As the lead Humvee descended to a short tunnel beneath Nidhal Street, 
Staff Sgt. Ray Vejar looked up at the potentially dangerous sidewalk 
overhead. "Up on the right side I saw a guy in white standing with a guy 
in green," Sergeant Vejar recalled. "The guy in white moved toward the 
railing." Then the Humvee entered the tunnel, cutting off his view.

As the second Humvee approached the tunnel, Major Delgado's view of the 
sidewalk overhead was obstructed, but he noticed something descending 
from the right side.

Major Delgado recalled: "I saw this object coming down, and I thought, 
`Is that a piece of trash, or is that something else?' Then I heard the 

A second explosion followed. The attack sprayed the left side of the 
major's Humvee with shrapnel.

Major Delgado promptly radioed other units: "Two grenades, no 
casualties. We're going after them."

The soldiers drove up to the crowded overpass. Two figures in white and 
green started running when they saw the soldiers, and Sergeant Vejar got 
a good look at the man in green.

"He looked right at me, and I positively ID'd him as the guy who was at 
the railing," the sergeant said. When the man dashed into a warren of 
narrow streets, Major Delgado and Sergeant Vejar ran down one street and 
sent soldiers in a Humvee down another one, where they spotted a man in 
a green shirt walking along. They ordered him to approach the Humvee.

The young man, Ali Muhsin, fled, according to both the soldiers and 
Hazim Karim, a boy from the neighborhood who saw the encounter.

A Humvee gunner, Specialist John Rogers, fired a warning shot, and Ali 
stopped. As another soldier, Pfc. Christopher Crayton, got out of the 
Humvee and approached him, Ali ran again. Specialist Rogers fired 
several shots, hitting Ali before he turned toward his home on Al 
Urfalia Street, two blocks away.

By the time the soldiers found him outside his home, Sergeant Vejar had 
rejoined them in a Humvee. He was the one who jumped out and ran toward 
Ali. "I pushed back the people and got on the ground and positively ID'd 
the guy," he recalled. "I know he was at the railing."

That would have been impossible, Ali's relatives and friends said, 
because at that moment Ali was working at a tire-repair shop about 100 
yards from the overpass.

"I was working with him in the shop," said Omar Natiq, his best friend. 
"We heard the explosions and went outside. He ran ahead of me to see 
what happened." The owner of the shop, Agab Latif, said he himself had 
not been in the shop when the grenades went off, but that another 
employee had also said Ali was at work at that moment.

"He was a very good boy, a very polite boy," Mr. Latif said, echoing a 
common theme among Ali's relatives and friends. They praised him for 
being the sole supporter of his mother and five sisters since his 
father's death earlier this year, and told how he had been trying to 
save money for an operation for his younger brother's wounded leg.

"All Ali did was go to work and go home," said Qusay Matti, a neighbor. 
"He had no interest in politics. The Baath party was particularly hated 
in this neighborhood, at least until now. Now we are all afraid of the 
Americans. My wife cannot forget him lying on the street asking for 
water. She wakes up at night crying out, `Ali is thirsty.' "



Israeli Missiles Kill Palestinian Bystander

By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, August 27, 2003; Page A17

JERUSALEM, Aug. 26 -- Israeli military aircraft fired several missiles 
at a car carrying Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip early tonight, 
killing one elderly bystander and injuring about 20 others, Palestinian 
witnesses and hospital officials reported.

Two or three militants targeted in the attack -- members of the radical 
Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas -- escaped the fiery explosions, 
one with minor injures, Palestinian security forces said.

Witnesses said Younis Hamalawi, 70, who was riding a donkey cart nearby, 
was killed by shrapnel. Hospital officials said that at least four young 
children were among the injured.

"The targets were Hamas members, but the results were regrettable," said 
Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "It's very 
clear this wasn't done on purpose," he said, adding that Israel was 
forced into a more aggressive military posture because the Palestinian 
Authority "really hasn't done anything. They are leaving the whole fight 
against the terrorist infrastructure to us."

An Israeli security official confirmed the attack was aimed at Hamas 
militants and expressed "regret over any loss of innocent life."



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