(warning: this is an incredibly depressing video)
How U.S. marines executed 2 dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians and then paid their relatives $2,500 in “compensation”…
“They ranged from little babies to adult males and females. I’ll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood. This left something in my head and heart.”
– Observations of Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones after the Haditha Massacre
On November 19, 2005, Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton allegedly killed 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in a three to five hour rampage. One victim was a 76-year-old amputee in a wheelchair holding a Koran. A mother and child bent over as if in prayer were also among the fallen. “I pretended that I was dead when my brother’s body fell on me, and he was bleeding like a faucet,” said Safa Younis Salim, a 13-year-old girl who survived by faking her death.
Other victims included girls and boys ages 14, 10, 5, 4, 3 and 1. The Washington Post reported, “Most of the shots … were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, doctors at Haditha’s hospital said.” [truthout]
WASHINGTON, May 30 Ã¢?? A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq
Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines’ story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said. [NYTimes]
The tragedy of Haditha may have been left at that – just another statistic of “war-torn” Iraq, a place too dangerous to be reported properly by journalists, where openness is not in the interests of political and military circles, and the sheer scale of death numbs the senses. However, a day after the incident, local journalist Taher Thabet got his video camera out and filmed scenes that – whatever they were – were not the aftermath of a roadside bomb.
The bodies of women and children, still in their nightclothes; interior walls and ceilings peppered with bullet holes; bloodstains on the floor.
…Twelve-year-old Safa Younis appears in a Hammurabi video saying she was in one of three houses where troops came in and indiscriminately killed family members.
“They knocked at our front door and my father went to open it. They shot him dead from behind the door and then they shot him again,” she says in the video.
“Then one American soldier came in and shot at us all. I pretended to be dead and he didn’t notice me.” Hammurabi says eight people died in the house, including Safa’s five siblings, aged between 14 and two.
In another house seven people including a child and his 70-year-old grandfather were killed. Four brothers aged 41 to 24 died in a third house. Eyewitnesses said they were forced into a wardrobe and shot. Outside in the street, US troops are said to have gunned down four students and a taxi driver who they stopped at a roadblock set up after the bombing. [BBC]
In related news today:
Two Iraqi women were shot to death north of Baghdad after coalition forces fired on a vehicle that failed to stop at an observation post, the U.S. military said Wednesday. Iraqi police and relatives said one of the women was about to give birth. [source]