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Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun May 4 17:18:02 MDT 2003


  http://www.utopia2000.org/
 4 May 2003.
 Iraqi rage grows after Fallujah massacre.

 FALLUJAH -- Nearly a week after troops from the 82nd Airborne Division
 randomly opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators here, prompting the US
 military to announce an inquiry, commanders have yet to speak to the
doctors
 who counted the bodies.

 Nor, by late yesterday, had US commanders been to the home of a 13-year-old
 boy who was among the dead, even though it is located less than a mile from
 the main American base in Fallujah, a conservative Sunni town 35 miles west
 of Baghdad.

 The Americans' conduct over the Fallujah affair -- and their highly
 implausible version of events -- has compounded the anger in Iraq over the
 killings, in which 13 people died after being hit by a hail of US bullets
 outside a school which the troops were occupying.

 It combines all the worst elements of the occupation: panicky troops firing
 at Iraqis instead of seeking to engage with them or understand their
 circumstances, then insisting that local people have no cause for anger.

 The US military's case was enshrined in a 290-word statement issued by its
 Central Command (Centcom) in Qatar the day afterwards, Tuesday, issued when
 the interest of the world's media was at its height.

 This stated that the "parachuters" from the 82nd Airborne Division opened
 fire in self-defence after being shot at by around 25 armed civilians
 interspersed among 200 demonstrators and positioned on the neighbouring
 rooftops. It spoke of a "fire-fight."

 Witnesses interviewed by The Independent on Sunday stated that there was
 some shooting in the air in the general vicinity, but it was nowhere near
 the crowd, which comprised mostly boys and young men who descended on the
 school at around 9pm to call for the US troops to leave the premises.

 Gunfire in the air is commonplace ­ and the Fallujah demonstration
coincided
 with Saddam Hussein's birthday. But there is a consensus among Iraqi
 witnesses on two issues. There was no fire-fight nor any shooting at the
 school. And the crowd -- although it had one poster of Saddam and may have
 thrown some stones -- had no guns.

 The evidence at the scene overwhelmingly supports this.

 Al-Ka'at primary and secondary school is a yellow concrete building about
 the length and height of seven terraced houses located in a walled
compound.
 The soldiers fired at people gathered below them.

 There are no bullet marks on the façade of the school or the perimeter wall
 in front of it. The top floors of the houses directly opposite, from where
 the troops say they were fired on, also appear unmarked. Their upper
windows
 are intact.

 The day after the bloodbath, US soldiers displayed three guns which they
 said they had recovered from a home opposite, but this proved nothing.
Every
 other Iraqi home has at least one firearm.

 Centcom also refused to confirm that the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne
who
 raked the crowd had killed or injured unarmed civilians. Although it
 conceded that this was possible, it described the deaths of unarmed people
a
 "allegations" and estimated the toll at seven injuries, all people who were
 armed.

 Yet a mile from the US army's base is the home of 13-year-old Abdul Khader
 al-Jumaili.

 The boy had tagged along with the demonstration as it passed by his home,
 having spotted some of his friends. He was shot in the chest, and died in
 hospital a few hours later. His house -- No 3 Al-Monjazat Street -- is easy
 to find. Dozens of relatives gathered there for three days of mourning amid
 an atmosphere of quiet anger, grief and indignation.

 "The Americans are just lying," said his father, Abdul Latif al-Jumaili, a
 clerk. "You can see it for yourself," he added, showing a photograph of his
 son. "He was just a boy."

 The affair has angered British Army officials who believe that the US
troops
 lack the vital experience which the British acquired -- painfully at
 first -- in Northern Ireland.

 "Don't talk to me about the US army," said one British military source.
 "Let's just say that they face a very steep leaning curve."

 The Americans will be hoping that the damage will be repaired once they
 establish stability and the economy gets going. But they will find no
 consolation from the signals being sent to them in Fallujah.

 On Wednesday night, someone fired two grenades into their compound, a
former
 Baath party building, injuring seven soldiers. A banner was hanging from
the
 front gate of the mayor's office next door: "Sooner or later, US killers,
 we'll kick you out."






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