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US Military using Brutality, Fear, Intimidation in Al-Adamiyah

Dahr Jamail 

12/27/03: (ICH) Baghdad: On September 24th, there was a huge demonstration in the Al-Adamiyah sector of Baghdad in support of Saddam Hussein, but even more, the demonstration was in opposition to the US occupation of Iraq. Photos were taken of the demonstrators by the Americans, and that night there were home raids and over 100 people detained, from teenagers to old men. Even some women were detained. 

The next time there was to be a demonstration here, the US military showed up in force, literally filling the streets with tanks, Humvees, and soldiers as Apaches circled like vultures overhead. Needless to say, there was no demonstration.

The US is obviously attempting to keep a tight grip on the residents of this area.

More recently on December 14th, on the eve of the announcement of the capture of Saddam Hussein, there was a passionate demonstration by the people of Al-Adamiyah. 

American soldiers fired sound bombs and shots in the air to dispel the masses in front of the mosque. 

Many residents here believe that Shia members in the IGC have told the Americans that everyone in Al-Adamiyah support Saddam, in order to push the Americans to exact revenge against the predominantly Sunni area.

What the Americans failed to understand was that according to the residents of this area, the demonstration wasn’t only for Saddam, but just as much for a pure Iraqi government, which thus far the CPA appointed IGC is anything but. 

When there was no compliance, they began shooting the demonstrators. In the end, a total of 13 were killed, the number comprised not only of demonstrators but people shopping and walking on the sidewalks. 

The mosque in Al-Adamiyah was shot by the Americans. This action is the worst possible thing the Americans could do to the people who worship there. 

At this point people took up arms against the occupiers of their country, and even more bloodshed occurred.

Some men who attended the demonstration say they witnessed five Iraqi men who were wounded by theAmerican soldier’s gunfire. They say that these five men were taken under a nearby bridge and executed by the Americans. The bodies were found later and taken to the morgue in Al-Adamiyah. The US military here has not commented on any such atrocity.

A photo from inside the Al-Adamiyah morgue of two of five, unidentified bodies, each shot at close range, execution style. Gunpowder burns mark the skin. One man has been shot at close range in the back of the head.

The people of Al-Adamiyah claim that the family members of those slain, in order to retrieve the bodies from the morgue, first had to report to the US camp near Al-Adamiyah. They claim they had to sign a form stating that their family member was shot by Iraqi Police, not US soldiers. Then they had to take this signed form to the morgue in order to obtain the body, as the hospital and morgue was sealed off by Iraqi Police (following orders from the Americans) for several days following the terrible events of December 14th. 

The residents here also tell me that US soldiers have taken the wounded from the hospital here directly to prison. They report Americans using intimidation and fear tactics on the families, as well as others who were wounded and seeking medical care in the hospital.

Home raids have become a near nightly event in Al-Adamiyah, and the number of people detained has become almost impossible to track. On the 24th of December, 35 people were detained, many being young men 17 years old when a coffee shop was raided in broad daylight and every man in it was taken away. 

Women have been detained as well. In addition, during home raids by the Americans, soldiers have grabbed the women, beaten them, removed their Hijab (hair cover), all of which is extremely against laws of Islam. 

Collective punishment is being practiced here on a daily basis, as electricity is sporadic at best. Oftentimes there will be none for two days straight, then perhaps two hours on the third day, and even that will be fraught with outages. While interviewing a man in a money exchange shop, the electricity cuts out and he points at the darkened bulb above us and laughs to underscore this point.

Many of the men I’ve spoke with today tell me they have seen soldiers steal money and gold from homes they have raided. This story continues to come up time and time again whenever the subject of home raids is discussed. 

A man named Ahmed shares a story of a relative who’d just come from the Emirates to visit, “…so of course he brought money with him to help his family here. The whole family went out, and Americans smashed the door, entered the house, stole the money and gold, put them in the tank, and left. All of our neighbors watched this happen.”

A man named Kassim tells me of a neighbor whose home was raided, and the Americans stole money and gold from him. No weapons were found, nobody was detained.

He tells that if nobody immediately opens the door when they knock, if they knock, they promptly smash it in. This is directly against the tradition here, against the Muslim and Arab traditions. 

“If they keep doing this,” he tells me, “they will keep getting bad reactions from the people. Particularly when the Americans continue to detain and harm innocent people.”

Faisal Al Adham owns a small grocery store on a street corner. He tells of how the Americans are not only detaining members of the resistance, but even people who have no association with it. 

Another man listening to our conversation adds that the Americans shot up the local bank, then went inside and took computers and account documents.

I asked him why, for what reason would Americans want bank computers?

“Because many, many ex-Iraqi army officers and soldiers have accounts there, and their name and ranks are in those files. They take the computers, then come back with a list and detain the men, simply because they used to be in the military.”

I have heard this story before, told by several people in Al-Adamiyah. Two men I spoke with verified this information by telling me that two of their relatives had been detained by Americans with lists comprised of information from the bank.

One of them points to a building nearby and adds, ”The Americans also had a sniper up in that building. He was shooting the demonstrators from there. Many people saw this happen.”

Both men nod.

Faisal tells me that the Americans are detaining all the young men from every home they raid. Most of them haven’t been released, and the families are unable to find them or contact them.

“If they detain my sons, what should I do? I am an old man; I cannot do anything without them.”

He tries to explain that they do not want to fight, but their culture, respect, and traditions are being violated.

“We welcome anyone into our home. But when someone uses force, we never accept such things as this.”

Later I am in a money exchange office, and begin speaking with a man named Ali. While we are talking several other men join in the discussion.

I’ve heard of so many people being detained from this area, I ask the small group what they estimate the number to be from the beginning of the occupation until now.

“500. Yes, at least that many,” says Ali, as the other men somberly nod in agreement.

Ali is angered by the subject, and continues to talk about it.

“Yesterday I watched and in less than 10 minutes time they detained 15 people on the street who were doing nothing wrong. They came with Humvees to do this, and also brought 2 tanks to support the soldiers.”

He is very upset by what he witnessed at the demonstration on the 14th of December.

“They killed people who weren’t even part of the demonstration. One man had lost his son. He was out looking for his little boy and they shot him dead.”

He tells me of Abu Hanifa mosque here, that along with the black banners hung for the dead killed by the Americans, 

“You can see the bullet holes in the mosque where it was hit, even now.”

In addition, stories continue to be told by people all over Al-Adamiyah of US troops planting bombs, then coming back later to act as if they are defusing them, as if to protect the people from the resistance fighters.

One of the men tells me, “I was sitting in my car in a gas line at 3am the other night. All of us watched a US tank stop in the road, and the soldiers got out and did something near the road. The next day we found a bomb there. All of us saw this.”

“We have also watched them placing fake plastic guns on the ground. Then when people pick them up they explode like a small bomb. Why are they doing this?”

They go on to tell me that the Americans know the young men are interested in this, so of course they pick them up. 

A large man named Hakeem interjects, “This is who they are trying to kill. They are doing this to scare men from fighting against them. Who else would do these things, if it is not the Americans?”

The tactical psychological warfare and intimidation tactics which I’ve seen used in Tikrit, Samarra and Ramadi are in play here. Foot patrols of a dozen soldiers walking the streets during the day, helicopters buzzing overhead, collective punishment tactics of homes raided. 

The Americans routinely send large patrols through Al-Adamiyah. Oftentimes tanks are seen rumbling through the streets.

Tomorrow I will submit another dispatch which investigates why these heavy handed tactics are being used in Al-Adamiyah. 

Dahr Jamail, is an independent American journalist reporting from Iraq

Copyright: Dahr Jamail <dahrma90@yahoo.com>

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