FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

 

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail