News and opinions on situation in Iraq
20/10/04 Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches
The following is a recent piece written from my last trip to Iraq; unfortunately it is more relevant today than ever.

Slaughter in the Streets © 2004 by Dahr Jamail

The Ester Republic

Seventeen-year-old Amir is cying during much of the interview. “We were coming home from work, and were shot so many times,” he says with obvious anguish and frustration. “Walid told me to leave the car because he was hurt and needed help.”

The man he speaks of, Walid Mohammed Abrahim, was a carpenter, and Amir worked as his apprentice.

On May 12, US troops occupying an Iraqi police station in the Al-Adhamiya district of Baghdad shot their small car as they traveled home after a long day of work.

“I still can’t believe Walid is killed,” said Amir, crying at the home of Abrahim’s brother; “He is like my brother, was so decent and honest. So many people are killed because of their crazy, haphazard shooting.”

He is referring to the US troops who riddled the car with more than twenty-five bullets. While they were driving past an Iraqi police station, a rebel fired upon the station from a building on nearly the opposite end of the station from where their car was. Thus, being the closest moving object, the soldiers chose them as the most convenient suspected target.

This is a situation that, according to the head administrator of the Baghdad morgue, has happened throughout Baghdad since the invasion in spring of 2003. As of October 2, it was estimated that at least 12,976 Iraqis have been killed since their country was invaded.

Abrahim’s brother, Khalid Mohammed Abrahim, sitting with us in his home in May, was beside himself with anguish. “All my brother was doing was coming home from work.” He said that his brother was a kind man, with no involvement in the resistance, and did not even own a weapon.

Another man with us, a resident of the neighborhood, thirty-one-year-old Mohammed Messen, spoke of what he witnessed. “I saw coalition troops firing haphazardly and Walid was killed by them… I give this testimony to show that coalition troops shot him.”

Khalid then suddenly added: “Why has my brother been killed? They searched his car and know he was innocent. All we seek is for God to give us patience to deal with such conditions.” He then looked at the ground and breathed, “We are all suffering here.”

Later on that afternoon, I went to the home of an Iraqi policeman who was at the station that night and agreed to discuss the incident on condition of anonymity. He says Abrahim was returning home when he passed the police station in Al-Adhamiya at 2 a.m. Due to much celebration gunfire earlier in the night following an Iraqi soccer team victory, US soldiers occupied the Iraqi police station in the district.

The police report of the incident states that his car was shot twenty-nine times, with Abrahim suffering two gunshots in the head, along with being shot five times in the chest.

Another Iraqi policeman who was at the station when the incident occurred, also speaking with us on condition of anonymity, said that when several men attempted to pull Abrahim from the car, US troops opened fire on them. “This is the usual policy of the Americans,” he stated matter-of-factly. “They always shoot first, because there is nobody to punish them for their mistakes.”

He says that Iraqi police have no control over their station when the US forces choose to occupy it. “When the Americans take over our police station, they bring us all together and tell us we are no longer in charge of anything,” he stated while holding up his arms in exasperation.

The policeman says that all of them were made to stay inside the station while US soldiers occupied the roof. “This is why I can say definitely yes, it was the Americans who shot Mr. Abrahim, and not Iraqi police, because none of us were even allowed on the roof,” he says firmly.

He added that he personally has between 150-200 files of incidents where US occupation forces have killed innocent Iraqis, and that several other Iraqi policemen at his station have a similar number. He let out a deep breath and said, “There are so many people the Americans have shot.”

Continuing his discussion of the atrocity, he said, “When I reached near to the car, I saw people trying to pull him out of the car, but the Americans began shooting at them so they ran away.”

By the time the officer was finally able to reach Abrahim, he had died of his wounds. He attempted to take the body to a nearby hospital, along with Amir and two other witnesses at the scene. “We tried to leave but several Humvees appeared and shot at us,” he said loudly, “even though we were in a police car.”

Horrendous as this story is, it is not uncommon today in occupied Iraq. In fact, events like this have become commonplace. Driving anywhere in Baghdad on any given day, the black funeral announcements of untimely deaths hang from buildings, homes, and fences everywhere.

But these stories rarely make it into western media. As General Tommy Franks, who directed the invasion of Iraq, said, “We don’t do body counts.”

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