|News and opinions on situation in Iraq|
|13/12/04||A Reply To Those Who Question Our Reports From Mafkarat al-Islam|
By Omar Al-Faris,Translation by JUS
From shortly after the time of our inception almost three years ago, JUS has carried many reports from the news agency Mafkarat al-Islam (Islam Memo). We have done this as we have come to have a great deal of respect for the accuracy of their reporting which has been born out often many months after their early reporting on a given news item. Combined with the fact that they have had the fortitude to publish information that runs contrary to the thousands of reports that are crafted from mainstream news agencies without any verification whatsoever, we consider the work of these brothers to be a trustworthy work for Allah. While no news agency is always going to be able to garner the facts correctly 100% of the time, Mafkarat al-Islam has indeed been consistent, fearless and for the most part very accurate in their reporting.
When the war of resistance began in Iraq, it was Mafkarat al-Islam alone who dared to report on the resistance that the American forces were being met with. We corroborated their reports with our own limited reporting staff inside Iraq and indeed, we have taken alot of criticism for the reports that appeared on our pages. Meanwhile, what was making it to the front pages of the worlds press was far from the truth of the situation on the ground but we stuck to our guns, as did Mafkarat al-Islam. Little by little, the truth began to surface and while mainstream is still highly censored, wide scale resistance to the Iraqi occupation is now at least acknowledged, even if the real casualty numbers are still being omitted, as they were in WW2, Korea and Vietnam. In these wars, it was not until many years later that the true toll was accounted for.
Our readers should also know that a great deal of effort goes into publishing Mafkarat al-Islam’s reports as they publish in Arabic which means their material must be translated to bring it to the pages of JUS. The tireless work of Muhammad Abu Nasr, a member of the editorial board of the Free Arab Voice, combined with the JUS translation team, makes this possible and it requires a great deal of persistence considering the many Muslims and non-Muslims that would prefer to discredit the truth of this war. Often our daily reports are late due to the enormity of the information that must be translated. Nevertheless, this we gladly accept to bring you the best information available.
Now Mafkarat al-Islam has answered their critics directly. Translated by the JUS translation team, here is a letter from Soyan Al-Hagiri Director of Mafkarat al-Islam, addressing a reader that wrote to the “Ana Al-Moslem,” web site, criticizing Mafkarat al-Islam’s news reporting standards, questioning its credibility, and accusing it of exaggerating the number of American casualties. We present it here, uncut and uncensored.
On a final note, we ask Allah to reward our brothers at Mafkarat al-Islam for their commitment and to make their way easy. Ameen.
Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatu Allahi Wa Barakatuh
Before I give my point by point reply, I would respectfully like you to read the following news items which were reported by large American newspapers and certainly were not dreamed up by anyone in general and Mafkarat al-Islam (Islam Memo) in particular;
Washington Post: 13/10/2004
This newspaper has revealed that 30,000-90,000 American servicemen have deserted and crossed the borders to Canada to request political asylum in that country. The post further pointed out that an American soldier by the name, Jeremy Hainsman, who served in Afghanistan, was ordered to report to Iraq for duty but he fled with his wife and their child to Canada, instead. Hainsman and three others (perhaps in the same battalion) began the political asylum application process in Canada.
United Press 19/09/2004
United Press has issued a report on the actual American casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. The report was based on a study in which a United Press team of experts analyzed information released by the Pentagon and other sources regarding America’s casualties. The report indicated that 17,000 American soldiers were medically evacuated from Afghanistan and Iraq but were not included in the casualty of war report prepared and released by the Pentagon. In response to the findings of United Press, Pentagon officials said that the injuries of those in question were not of a level that warrants their inclusion in the casualty figures. However, military experts point out that if their injuries were bad enough to warrant evacuation to medical facilities outside of Afghanistan or Iraq, they should have been listed in the Pentagon report.
According to United Press, its team of expert has obtained a copy of a report from DVA indicating that an additional 32,684 soldiers with battle experience in Afghanistan and Iraq were taken out of active duty as they are under medical care provided to them by DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs).
United Press has also obtained a copy of a report from American Medical Evacuation Transport authority, showing that 16,765 American soldiers have been individually evacuated from Afghanistan and Iraq for injuries and illnesses not directly related to combat operation. Most of the evacuees in this category came from Iraq during the first phase of the war there. The casualty report put out by the Pentagon, www.defenselink.mil lists only soldiers who were killed or wounded in battles.
Back in December, United Press obtained this Pentagon official definition of war casualty as follows:
“A person is considered a casualty of war if he/she went missing and his/her death was verified as directly related to combat operation, or if he/she went missing in an unknown location, or if he /she became ill or wounded.”
However, in their most recent casualty figures, Pentagon officials gave a different definition for war casualty. According to the new definition, injuries are considered according to their severity. The latest Pentagon report pointed out that most medical evacuation was not considered combat related. The report gave examples of cases that were not considered combat related, such as, muscle spasms, back pain, kidney problems, diarrhea, and fever. The Pentagon report, further pointed out that casualty figures released to the public address incidental and battle field injuries, and casualty reports include names of soldiers who died in some non-war related accidents or due to illness, but the reports do not include those whose injuries or illnesses were not combat related, nor do they include those who went missing but their fate has not yet been determined.
Mike Shelly, a military expert, who is the director of national security and external affairs at the American army, has advised the Pentagon to issue complete reports listing all casualties including non-combat injuries and illness. He added, sarcastically, “those injured, received their injuries at time of war and in a war zone.” Shelly further added “We must issue complete and accurate reports about a short term as well as permanent injuries which occur anywhere in a war zone.”
A spokesperson for the transportation authority said “We do not keep full, and accurate records of medical evacuations from either Iraq or Afghanistan.”
According to recent documents released by the Pentagon and examined by United Press experts, 1019 Americans were killed and 7245 were wounded in Iraq. In addition, 27571 with various military expertise are in need for medical care of some sort.
Among those needing medical cares, 5375 are suffering from mental and psychological illness caused by the war in Iraq. The reported data indicated that mental illness ranked third after orthopedic and gastric illnesses on the list of injuries caused by the Iraq war.
In a study conducted by The New England Medical Journal, and published in its July issue, it was shown that 16% of soldiers returning from Iraq are suffering from severe depression. The study also showed that as much as 11% of those returning from Afghanistan may have the same problems. This report does shed a light on war news censorship policy adopted by the occupying force to hide the actual impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the report points out to the larger number of casualties in Iraq as compared to Afghanistan. The report also brings to light the pressure put on many satellite news media, especially Arabic ones, to follow the same policy (hiding actual number of casualties) in a very obvious way.
The Pentagon report excludes casualties among non-US citizens who were recruited by US embassies in many countries. Those foreign soldiers were given “Green Cards” and they were promised US citizenship at the conclusion of the war.
New York Times 29/09/2004
The newspaper reported that Iraqi resistance fighters have launched more than 2300 attacks during the preceding 30 days period. That is about 80 attacks per day, a number that was first reported by Mafkarat al-Islam but many did not believe it then. Despite the increased number of attacks against Americans, only a few are reported by main stream media, added the New York Times. The paper also referred to a report prepared by a private American security agency working with the American military intelligence. According to the report, the Iraqi resistance is wide spread and not confined or isolated in certain pockets as alleged by Iraqi puppet government officials. The resistance spreads from Salah Al-Deen governorate in the North West to Babel and Diali in central Iraq to Basra in the south.
According to the report, not only did the resistance expanded geographically, but it also expanded and improved the quality of military weapons and tactics used. They now use car bombs, time bombs, RPG’s, hand grenade, light arms, mortar rounds, land mines, and various types of rockets. The New York Times quoted Adam Collins, an American expert saying: “If we look at a map showing locations of attacks by resistance, we will realize right away that the resistance is not limited to a few governorates”.
Collins, who specializes in security matters and heads the security tasks for Security Management Group, a private security company, added: “resistance attacks have increased during the last few months, the highest level of attacks was registered in April, at that time, daily attacks have surpassed 120, but at the present time, the number of daily attacks is down to 80.
The New York Times went on to say that although the military and political impact of the number and quality of the daily attacks is very clear, the American military leadership continues to be arrogant and continue to maintain that a general election in Iraq in January can take place.
The paper further said
“The number of attacks does not tell the whole story about the situation in Iraq and the difficulties and challenges facing the American appointed government as well as the American army.”
The paper sited Fallujah as an example. “The number of attacks against the occupying force in Fallujah was down but that is only because Fallujah has been under the control of Iraqi resistance fighters and neither the American army nor the Iraqi security force can enter the city”, added the paper.
The American report also indicated that 1000 attacks were launched against the Iraqi capital alone during the preceding month. An American spokesperson also admitted that at least 3000 mortar rounds fell on Baghdad since April. This number is far below the real one. An American officer told the New York Times that the situation is very critical and difficult for the Americans. The American report listed the number of attacks and their locations in Iraq during the preceding 30 days as follows:
283 attacks in Nenwi, 325 attacks in Salah Al-Deen governorate, 332 attacks in the desert areas of Anbar, 123 attacks in Diali, 76 attacks in Babel, and 13 in Waset.
The increased number of attacks against the occupying force has been reported by The Washington Post, as well. Last Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the daily resistance attacks have increased and they are now stands at 70 per day. Such a number has been reported by Islam memo prior to anyone else, and in a time when official reports coming out of the occupying force mentioned limited number of attacks with modest casualties that do not correlate with the size of resistance attacks reported later by American newspapers. Mafkarat al-Islam correspondents all over Iraq cover resistance attacks quickly and factually before anyone else there.
At this point, I would like to ask you a question that appeals to your common sense and intellect: Does the news about the number of daily attacks, the medical evacuations, and political asylum seeking, appear to be in agreement with Western media? Arab media? Islamic media? Or does it appear to be in agreement with what Mafkarat al-Islam has been reporting all along?
We are proud to say that we were the only organization whose reports were in complete agreement with what American media later found out and reported. Our reports challenged all other media by reporting on the exact locations, the time of attacks, type of weapon used, and casualty figures. Do visit web sites run by Sunni Iraqis and see for yourself where do they get their news from? We are talking about local people who know their country and know what is going on. Can we say they are being fooled by Al-Mufakkerah (Islam memo)? They get their news from Mafkarat al-Islam and that must mean something. And how do you explain the fact that your Arabic and the so called Islamic news agencies cover only four out of the 80 daily operations that even western news media is now admitting? It is the disinformation campaign and news media war.
Your point about the inevitable total destruction of the American army based on a high daily casualty figure is incorrect. Let me remind you that in the years 1967 and 1968, America lost 33000 soldiers in Vietnam, but that did not trigger American withdrawal from Vietnam then. America lost a total of 58000 servicemen during the war in Vietnam, but America did not withdraw until photos of dead American soldiers appeared on mainstream news media. Do you really think that America will leave Iraq if her casualty reached that number? I am absolutely certain that even if America lost 120000 soldiers in Iraq, Americans will not leave Iraq. America stayed for long time in Vietnam, a country that lacks strategic, economical, and geographical importance, why and how would anyone expect America to leave Iraq, a country in the heart of the Islamic world with vast resources and unparallel strategic importance?
I would like now to ask you a question and appeal to the faith in you heart. If the Vietnamese who are Buddhist and do not have a God, or religion, or history, or power, were able to cost America 58000 lives, why would you doubt the ability of your Muslim brothers in Iraq to inflict the kind of casualty reported by us first and by mainstream media later?
I would like to draw your attention to another matter of the British force and its casualty in Iraq. While all British, International, Arabic, and the so called Islamic news media have deliberately elected not to report on attacks against British troops, we were the only news organization which reported on the subject on a regular basis. Finally, on 1 November, 2004, British military sources reported the death of a female British soldier thereby raising the number of British killed in Iraq to 70. We were also the first to report on the redeployment of 850 British soldiers, part of the Black Watch battalion, from Basra to new postions in the north to replace US forces that left those location to engage Iraqi resistance fighters in hot spots elsewhere. Mafkarat al-Islam reported on an attack against British troops in an area between Al-Mahaweel and Hullah, south of Baghdad. The attack left two Brits dead and three more wounded. No other news media reported on that attack or the redeployment of Brits from Basra in the south to areas up north. None of the news media covered resistance fighters operations against the Brits in southern Iraq, but we did and such operations left many Brits dead. British military sources finally admitted some of the British casualty but they resorted to the usual vague and misleading phrases such as: “friendly fire,” “various accidents,” etc. to avoid admitting the existence of Iraqi resistance in Basra.
As to your allegation of exaggeration, I would like to point out that exaggeration is a form of lying, and we seek refuge with Allah from being accused of committing such a violation. You may have noticed that your brothers in Mafkarat al-Islam (Islam memo) have stopped reporting on events in Mosel, Baqubah, Al-Qaim, Ramadi, Hadithah, Rawi, and Aanah. This is due to the arrest of our correspondents there. If we were fabricating the news in Iraq, we would not have stopped reporting from those areas and why would we need correspondents in Iraq if we make up our own news?
I want to ask you in the name of Allah, the most High, and the most Exalted this. Did anyone report from Fallujah as much as we did? Everyone (but Mafkarat al-Islam) washed his hands from the defiant city and assumed it to have been added to territories controlled by the Americans 13 days ago. But as time passes, we proved to have told the truth about the conflict in Fallujah, and others lied. Mujahideen there have regrouped and regained their strength and have taken back lost territories. During this time, our Arabic and Islamic news agencies continued to be silent and continued to wait for what Reuters and the French news agency would report so that they may report the same. What a shame.
Now, I want to pose a question to you, a question that everyone would agree that it could only have one answer: Have you seen an infant capable of walking at time of birth? The answer is no. What I mean is this. If news media now are talking about the fall of many Iraqi cities into the hands of resistance fighters, could that have happened overnight? Would not that indicate that resistance was like an army that have dealt the Americans and their puppet government blow after blow after blow for several months, until resistance fighters were able to take and keep areas like Fallujah, Ramadi, Al-Latifiah, Mosel, and some areas in Baghdad, just to name a few? Where were the Islamic or Arabic news media? How come they did not report on these great accomplishments? The reality is, by reporting on the situation now, our Islamic and Arabic news media have fallen from grace. Someone will always ask: where have you been for the last several months?
Brother, do you remember Sammara? Do you remember how everyone (except Mafkarat al-Islam) wrote that city off? We were the only ones who outlined the resistance tactical decision to encircle and attack the American rear formation. This tactic was so effective that only two weeks later America announced the first case of mutiny and disobedience ever in the American military history. Here too, Mafkarat al-Islam was truthful and everyone else lied.
Did you forget Afghanistan? Secular and Islamic officials and organizations described the resistance there as carried out by remnants of Taliban or Arab Mujahideen. Only Mafkarat al-Islam reported on the quality and blessed operations (not victories) against the occupiers. Everyone accused us of exaggerating then. Only few months later, the United Nations representative announced that Taliban had total control of several areas in Afghanistan. Once more, everyone realized how accurate our reports were. To that we say, Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah).
This is Mafkarat, a news organization that has earned the respect of international news agencies to the extent that they get their news from it (MMafkarat). Sometimes, they give credit to Mafkarat, other times, they just steal our reports. I swear by Allah that if it was not for our desire to get the truth out, I would have listed many news reports taken word for word from Mafkarat by several local and international newspapers, magazines, and satellite news media.
And for your information, the two most famous Arabic news channels, two famous Arabic news magazines, and three international news agencies have forwarded their contact information to us to supply them with news from Iraq and elsewhere.
I will now give an example of criticizing Mafkarat al-Islam while looking the other way when it comes to other news organizations. We have reported on the shooting down of an American Chinook, in Al-Shuhada neighborhood, in Fallujah and we reported that 50 Americans were killed based on a statement made by a resistance Amir (leader). Many have been criticizing us, saying “How did you know the precise number of dead soldiers?” Some went as far as accusing us of violating basic journalism standard and self-discipline. We have answered those accusations as follows:
With regard to the Chinook, we got our information directly from a Mujahideen leader. And speaking of journalism standard practice, did anyone challenge Americans when they announced that they have killed 1200 resistance fighters in Fallujah? Didn’t anyone think of asking the Americans the following questions?
Where were the Mujahideen killed? They must have been killed in several locations? Show us pictures of the dead Mujahideen. How did you know that the number was exactly 1200? Could it have been 1234? Could it have been 1189?
Another sad thing, no one criticized the French news agency or Reuters, or Al-Jazeera, or any other news agency when all of them reported what the Americans wanted them to report without challenging or verifying the validity of the news.
My honored brother, fear Allah, how could you justify the decision by many Arabic and international news media to report the killing of 1200 Mujahideen based only on an American story, especially knowing that the source for the news is a Christian source known for its lying and misleading? How could you accept that as meeting standard journalism practice? How could you, in the same time criticize your Muslim brothers for reporting on the killing of 50 soldiers when their aircraft was shot down even though your brothers gave the exact location and showed photographs of the downed plane?
May Allah forgive you brother. I beg you to treat your brothers in Fallujah with the same way you treat the Christians.
Although I do not claim to know the unknown, I am almost certain that you did not write letters to Al-Jazeera, or Al-Arabiya, or Reuters, or any other news agency accusing them of violating basic journalism standard for reporting on the killing of 1200 Mujahideen without a shred of evidence. Did you?
Let me give you another sad example of criticizing us only. When we reported on the 36 Americans who were captured by Mujahideen in Fallujah, some good brothers have asked “where are their photos?” Let me tell you brother, the same piece of news was reported by Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and other news agencies but no one criticized them or asked them the same questions we were asked. Isn’t that ironic?
The last thing I want to address is the assumption you made about the total number of casualty based on daily number multiplied by the number of days in a particular period. It would be a gross mistake for anyone to say “Today, Mafkarat al-Islam reported 120 Americans killed, so multiply that number by 20 months (600 days), that means Americans have lost 72000 soldiers so far”.
One must realize that real Iraqi resistance only started a few months after the fall of Iraq. Furthermore, the resistance did not cover the entire Iraq until Rabieh 2nd. (1425) (May 2004). In addition a lot of soldiers in the American army are mercenaries from South America, Mexico, South Africa, Georgia, Zimbabwe, Serbia, Yemen, Syria, Jordan. Some are illegitimately born Americans who were raised in orphanage houses or churches. No one cares or asks about such soldiers. Let me tell you brother, the allied forces planned and prepared very well for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and any possible surprise are well taken care of. That was why the Reuter correspondent was killed by the Americans when he uncovered the American mass graves in Anbar. He was not the only one killed to bury one of the war secrets with him, and he will not be the last one either.
Finally brother, I wish you the best in everything you do. Please do not forget to pray for us and all your brothers, and please forgive me for the delay in replying to your letter. And forgive me brother if my reply appears harsh. Please feel free to write back with any comment.
Director, Mafkarat al-Islam