December 3rd - Killings in Ramadi
03 Dec 2003
Modified: 08 Dec 2003
US troops raid the wrong house and execute the wrong men.
Two days before the end of Ramadan, just as they were about to break their fast, the family was interrupted by two groups of US troops from the 82nd Airborne Division bursting into the house, from opposite sides. The family dived for cover and the troops fired on each other, killing three of their own. They then separated the women and girls, putting them in an outside kitchen building of the home near Ramadi.

Three men, brothers Ibrahim and Sabah Odai and their cousin, were taken outside the house, forced face down in the mud and shot dead.

The next day the military returned to the village bringing papers with them. They were sorry but they had raided the wrong house, acting on false information. Claims for compensation for any damage suffered could be submitted, along with proof of fault, photographs of damage, medical reports, death certificates, details of the amount of money claimed, and so on, to the nearest office.

The women of the village were in mourning, in black, indoors, the widow and children of one man, the mother of the two brothers, a little girl with a dressing covering a shrapnel wound on her face, a young woman with her arm heavily bandaged. The house was more or less destroyed. A white car was a strainer of bullet holes. There were bloodstains on the ground where the men were executed.

I’m passing on information from an independent journalist friend. I’ve seen the photos but I haven’t yet been able to go and take statements from the people. Ibrahim was a human rights lawyer and today there was due to be a demonstration by other lawyers in Ramadi. It hasn’t been much in the news though and I thought it was too important to wait till I get to see them. I’ll give you more details when I do.

We attempted to go to Ramadi today to join the demonstration and get their statements but by the time we got petrol it was 9:30 and we wouldn’t even have got out of Baghdad by 10, so the journalists I was hitching a lift with decided not to go. I’ll go on Saturday, inshallah. Cross your fingers for me. It’s a scary place. When I told Raed I was going to Ramadi he pleaded with me not to go. “They will cut off your hands. And your tongue.”

The reason it took until 9:30 to get petrol was that the queue went round the entire block from each of the petrol stations. Men wait outside their cars on the street parallel with the one where the actual pumps are and, every few minutes, open the driver’s door, put their shoulder to the frame and push the vehicle forward a few minutes. To leave the engine running or restart it for every step forward would be unaffordable madness.

The petrol station just past Wathiq Square said it had no petrol to sell, but still there was a motionless queue two cars wide and easily a hundred long. Even the black market sellers now have lines. The queues block the road and the rage of waiting is amplified by the continued inertia outside the station, burning the fuel so hard won. You never see a humvee in a petrol queue.

The Turkish drivers don’t want to drive to Baghdad anymore, according to Mohammed, and there isn’t enough fuel coming in from Kuwait and other neighbours to satisfy the demand for both cars and generators. Iraqi plants are generating too little because they need repairs and the Iraqi engineers know how to fix them but are not being allowed to.

As well, the prices are going up, because Halliburton (the one that’s paying Dick Cheney $1 million a year ‘pension’) is charging, via the US administration, $2.65 per gallon (4 litres) to transport it in from Kuwait. Even the Pentagon, known for its robbery of US taxpayers, used to do the job for $1.12 / gallon.. Iraqi businesses were managing to bring it in for less than $1 a gallon.

As we drove away with a full tank after a half-hour wait, even for black market petrol, Mohammed indicated another queue occupying two lanes of the highway we were passing over. The roadside sellers said an American tank just crushed two cars in that queue and drove away. No one was hurt, because they were out of the cars, just very, very angry.