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World

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Haditha, nouveau scandale pour l’armée US

by By Ramine Abadie

Iraq: Haditha - A New Scandal for US Forces

Translated by John O’Neil

Translated Tuesday 28 March 2006, by John O’Neil

Special Report

Haditha, a city 250 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, was the site of the latest scandal for US forces in Iraq after Marines killed twenty-three Iraqi civilians in their homes. Seven of the victims were women and three were children.

Without a doubt it is yet to be determined whether this was simply unleashed soldiers on a rampage or worse, a calculated reprisal. Whatever the reason, this week Time magazine published its investigation and the Hammurabi Human Rights Group released video footage of the events in Haditha. This has dealt yet another huge blow to the US military’s image. As if the prisoner abuses in the Iraqi prisons and the “cleaning” operations in cities like Fallujah have not already greatly tarnished their reputation.

Given the enormity of the situation, the US military has just sent Naval Criminal Investigative Service special investigators to Iraq to get to the bottom of last November’s incident.

On 19 November 2005, a roadside bomb struck a military vehicle carrying Marines from Kilo Company, 1st Marine division. The bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas.

In the first version of the Marines’ report, 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast. The Company response resulted in the deaths of eight "enemy combatants."

According to Iraqi witnesses from Haditha and the doctors who received the victims’ bodies the victims were riddled with bullets and their deaths could not have been caused by a roadside bomb. The victims were from three families in the area around the attack.

After journalists relayed Iraqi protests, the Marines involved changed their stories and claimed that the civilians were killed while they were pursuing the attackers although the video images released the next day did not reveal the presence of any bullet holes on the outside of the houses in question.

On the other hand, inside the houses, it was a shambles: the walls were full of bullet holes and covered in blood.

In short, the charges the locals are making, those of a child survivor in particular, condemn the soldiers even more than the Marines’ false testimony. Eman Waleed, the little girl who survived with her wounded younger brother, was quoted in the Time magazine article.

After the explosion, the Marines entered their house: "First, they went into my father’s room, where he was reading the Koran," she claims, "and we heard shots."

Then they entered the living room. "I couldn’t see their faces very well—only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny."

And they fired toward the corner of the room where she and her younger brother were hiding; the other adults shielded the children with their bodies.

This incident, though on a smaller scale, makes one recall My Lay, the Vietnamese village where US soldiers, drunk on violence, massacred hundreds of unarmed villagers. The slaughter at Haditha is still described by the US military as “collateral damage.”

[Translators Note]

The Time magazine article "One Morning in Haditha" can be read in its entirety at:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1174682-1,00.html

Published in L’Humanité on 23 March 2006


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