Shooting Samarra’s Schoolboys in the Back


Schoolboy Issam Naim Hamid is the latest of America’s famous "insurgents". In Samarra–for which read Fantasyville–he was shot in the back as he tried to protect himself with his parents in his home in the Al-Jeheriya district of the ancient Abbasid city.

It was three in the morning, according to his mother, Manal, when soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division came to the house, firing bullets through the gate. One of the rounds pierced the door, punched through a window and entered Issam’s back, speeding on through an outer wall. His father was hit in the ankle and was taken to Tikrit hospital yesterday in serious condition. Issam cries in pain in the Samarra emergency hospital ward, a drip-tube sticking into his stomach through a wad of bloody bandages.

The Americans claimed to have killed 54 "insurgents" after a series of guerrilla ambushes in the city last month, and the only dead to be found in the mortuaries were nine civilians, including an Iranian pilgrim to the great golden-cupolaed Shia shrine that looms over Samarra. Four days ago, they boasted of a further 11 "insurgents", but the only dead man who could be found was a vegetable seller. At the Samarra hospital, doctors also have the names of a taxi driver called Amer Baghdadi, shot dead by the Americans on Wednesday night.

Then there is the case of 31-year-old farmer Maouloud Hussein who was trying to push his five young daughters and son into the back room of his two-room slum home a few hours earlier when yet another bullet came whizzing through the gate and the outer wall of the house, and smashed into Maouloud’s back. His son Mustafa, bleary-eyed with tears beside his father’s bed yesterday, and his daughters Bushra, Hoda, Issra and Hassa, were untouched. But the bullet tore into Maouloud’s body and exited through his chest. Doctors have just taken out his spleen.

His 41-year-old brother, Hamed winces as he sees Maouloud cringing in agony –the wounded man tries to wave a hand at me and lapses into unconsciousness–and says 23 bullets hit the house in their Al-Muthanna quarter of the city. Like Issam Hamid, he lay bleeding for several hours before help came. Manal, Issam’s mother, tells a terrible story. "The Americans had an Iraqi interpreter and he told us to stay in our home," she says. "But we had no telephone, we couldn’t call an ambulance and both my husband and son were bleeding. The interpreter for the Americans just told us we were not allowed to leave the house."

Hamed Hussein stands by his brother’s bed in a state of suppressed fury. "You said you would bring us freedom and democracy but what are we supposed to think?" he asks. "My neighbour, the Americans took him in front of his wife and two children and tied his hands behind his back and then, a few hours later, after all this humiliation, they came and said his wife should take all her most expensive things and they put explosives in their house and blew it up. He is a farmer. He is innocent. What have we done to deserve this?"

The city of Samarra is a centre of resistance to the American 4th Infantry Division. Yesterday, US forces deployed a company of soldiers and 20 Bradley tracked fighting vehicles throughout the city and admitted to me that they were blowing down the front doors of "suspected terrorists".

A Mississippi private said: "That’s us", when I asked who was blowing down doors. "And you know what?" he asked. "After we do that, they go to the American authorities and ask for compensation." Which is true.

Mohamed Saleh, for example, the 36-year-old owner of a mechanics shop, described how the Americans attached explosives to the iron gate of his home as his wife and four children hid in the back of the house after hearing shooting in the street. He had found the American wire that had connected the explosives to the detonator; behind his back was his new Mazda car, destroyed by the blast and bits of his metal gate. There are dozens of houses in the same street, all their gates blown to pieces, all their interior house doors bashed from their hinges with boot-marks on the paintwork.

"We wanted the Americans to help us," he said. "This was Saddam’s Sunni area but many of us disliked Saddam. But the Americans are doing this to humiliate us, to take their revenge on the attacks against them by the resistance."

Three times, I am taken into broken homes where young men tell me that they intend to join the mukawama–the resistance–after the humiliation and shame visited upon their homes. "We are a tribal people and I am from the al-Said family," one says to me. "I have a university degree and I am a peaceful man, so why are the Americans attacking my home and filling my wife and children with fear?"

The American military still talk about their battle against "terrorism" in Samarra, a story that might be more convincing if their troops were not accompanied in the city by hooded men in plain clothes carrying Kalashnikov rifles. The 4th Infantry Division claim these are members of the "Iraqi Civil Defence Corps"–who are now also appearing in hoods in the centre of Baghdad–but there is no way of knowing. The hooded gunmen who demanded my identity in front of American troops on the edge of Samarra yesterday were wearing jeans and sneakers and brown combat jackets and woollen balaclavas, and, several times, they shouted abuse at each other like children.

Thus has "liberation" and "democracy" arrived in Samarra. And the fantasy continues. Just a day earlier, the Americans announced that after an "investigation"–the oddest in recent history, one has to say–they had concluded that the truck bombing in Baghdad which killed 16 innocent civilians on Wednesday morning, was a "traffic accident".

They said a petrol tanker had exploded during a collision with a car, even though the lorry was pulling no tanker, even though the explosion blasted pieces of metal almost 600ft from the scene and that the American troops who first arrived there had discovered part of the detonating device: a grenade which they showed to me themselves.

So in the land of innocent "insurgents" and "traffic accidents", the war continues to be spun. Just don’t mention the hooded policemen.

Or schoolboy Issam Hamid.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?