News and opinions on situation in Iraq
07/05/04 “No Apology, Car Bomb, 'I am your God.'” a weblog entry by Dahr Jamail
  Yesterday Dahr put up a short weblog post about Iraqi Police and the labels we use to describe US forces in Iraq. You can read it at: blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches/archives/000326.html

Here is today's post

The NewStandard web version (with photos):
blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches/archives/000332.html

At roughly 7:30 this morning I was awakened by a huge explosion that rocked my hotel building. I can tell how close they are now by how much I feel them through the floor.

If they are further away, they just rattle the windows a bit. This one I felt through the floor. The walls shook, and brought that usual feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach which accompanies the thought that several human beings have just been blown to pieces.

My colleague Dave Enders and I quickly gathered our cameras, notepads, and press credentials and caught a cab following the huge plume of black smoke billowing from the direction of the CPA.

At the checkpoint near the 14th of July suspension bridge that spans the Tigris, huge flames reached into the morning sky from a car between two large concrete walls that lead to the checkpoint, roughly 15 meters away from the entrance to the 'Green Zone.' Several cars behind it were crushed by the bomb. Glass was everywhere.

Soldiers angrily ordered the crowd to stay back from the razor wire they'd pulled across the streets in front of their Humvees.

A fire truck feebly sprayed water onto the incinerated vehicle; the flame always reignited, smoke spewing out the sides. The flames twisted agonizingly in a spiral creating a hellish tornado.

Glass in all of the surrounding buildings had been blown out, along with that of several cars along the street.

A leg was found 200 meters from the blast site. Broken glass covers the grass near the line of blasted cars.

The scene rocked with another small explosion, perhaps a gas tank going off from another car in the line. Iraqis crowded near the razor wire reflexively moved backwards fearing another bomb. Ambulance sirens blared, soldiers yelled at people who got too close, and the overall feeling of doom and sadness pervaded the hellish scene.

We caught a cab to go back to the hotel, and the cab driver angrily stated, “Before with Saddam, we had no bombs like this. Now with American, this is the democracy!”

Meanwhile intense military operations have occurred very close to the sacred Imam-Ali Shrine in Najaf, as the coalition attempts to take advantage of growing anger towards Muqtada Al-Sadr from more moderate Shi'ite clerics in the region. At least one U.S. soldier and 15 Iraqis have died in the fighting thus far.

As the Bush Administration scrambles for damage control from the stream of photographs documenting the atrocities from Abu Ghraib prison, atrocities in Iraq under the brutal occupation continue.

Mr. Bush, appearing on the U.S.-funded Al-Hawra Arab Television Station, failed to apologize to the Arab community, leaving this for his aides. Of course this is what many Iraqis today have mentioned — not that he scorned the acts of torture, but that he didn't even apologize.

One of my Iraqi friends told me, “This shows he doesn't care about Iraqis. All he cares about is himself and the image of America. What is the image? That America has brought us freedom and democracy? Does he think we are stupid and blind?”

Lately it seems as though every Iraqi I speak with about these photographs of Iraqi detainees being tortured and humiliated has an air of deepening resignation to the idea that the bringers of democracy have brought anything but.

Last night in Al-Adhamiyah I was interviewing a group of men who were detained on February 25th when their shop was raided by U.S. troops. One of them, Abdel Hamid Majed, claimed that his hands were tied tightly, a sack was placed over his head, and he was forced to lay on his stomach inside a shop for six and a half hours while the soldiers were deciding what to do with them.

He said, “We were whispering, 'Allahu Akbar' to sustain ourselves, and the soldiers were laughing at us.”

After laughing at the detainees for praying, Abdel (who speaks English) said, a soldier standing over them asked, “Do you want to pray? Pray to me. I am your God.”

Later several of the men were taken to Abu Ghraib. On April 20th, one of the men detained, Dr. Oubaidy Nezar, (a doctor of Physical Chemistry), died at Abu Ghraib prison.

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Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches .

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