Slaughter in the Streets - US troops kill with indiscriminate fire
May 27, 2004
Slaughter in the Streets
by Dahr Jamail | Posted May 27, 2004 at 06:15 AM Baghdad time
Seventeen year-old Amir is crying during much of the interview. “We were coming home from work, and were shot so many times,” he says with deep 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. Amir worked as his apprentice.
On May 12th, U.S. troops occupying an Iraqi Police station in the Al-Adhamiya district of Baghdad gunned down their small car as they traveled home after a long day of work.
“I still can’t believe Walid is killed,” said Amir, crying inside 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 U.S. troops who riddled the car with over 25 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. Mr. Abrahm’s car being the closest moving object, the soldiers chose it as the most convenient suspected target.
Mr. Abrahim’s brother, Khalid Mohammed Abrahim, sitting with us in his home today is beside himself with anguish, “All my brother was doing was coming home from work.” He says that his brother was a kind man, with no involvement in the resistance, and did not even own a weapon.
Another man sitting with us who is a resident of the neighborhood, 31 year-old Mohammed Messen, spoke of the slaughter of an innocent man that he witnessed. “I saw coalition troops firing haphazardly and Walid was killed by them,” he stated sadly. “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 go 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 Mr. Abrahim was returning home when he passed the police station in Al-Adhamiya at 2 a.m. Due to celebratory gunfire earlier in the night following an Iraqi Soccer Team victory, U.S. soldiers occupied the Iraqi Police station in the district.
The police report of the incident states that his car was shot 29 times, with Mr. 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 on condition of anonymity with us, says that when several men attempted to pull Abrahim from the car, U.S. troops opened fire on them. “This is the usual policy of the Americans,” he states as a matter of fact, “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 U.S. 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 says, holding up his arms in exasperation.
The policeman says that all of them were made to stay inside the station while U.S. 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 adds that he personally has on his desk between 150-200 files of incidents where U.S. occupation forces have killed innocent Iraqis, and that several other Iraqi Policemen at his station have a similar number. He lets out a deep breath and says, “There are so many people the Americans have shot.”
Continuing his discussion of the atrocity, he says, “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.”
When he was finally able to reach Abrahim, he found he had died of his wounds. He then 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 says loudly, “even though we were in a police car.”
The policeman goes on to say that after the troops ceased firing, he told them they had a body, but was told to go another way to the hospital.
Horrendous as this story is, accounts of its kind are not infrequent 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 are hanging from buildings, homes, and fences everywhere.
Not that these ever make it into Western media.
As General Tommy Franks who directed the invasion of Iraq said, “We don’t do body counts.”