Only Telling Half the Story?
Yesterday there were a flurry of reports about an Iraqi soldier shooting and killing two US soldiers during a joint mission. Reported as the first time this has happened, the reports in the American press may tell only half the story.
The rather startled reports repeated assertions that the attack was for "reasons unknown." Iraqi reports say the US soldiers were kicking a pregnant Iraqi woman when shot. Here’s what we’ve been able to learn so far.
On December 26, two American soldiers were killed during a “joint Iraqi-U.S. patrol undertaking security duty in al-Haramat area, western Mosul.”
The Multinational Force press office initially reported these deaths on December 28:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Dec. 26 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds suffered from small arms fire during dismounted combat operations.
Yesterday the MNF changed the story, releasing a new statement:
Two US Soldiers killed during a combined Iraqi Army and CF operation in Ninewah province on Dec. 26, were allegedly shot by an Iraqi Soldier.
For reasons that are as yet unknown, at least one Iraqi Army Soldier allegedly opened fire … The incident occurred as US and Iraqi Army Soldiers were conducting operations to establish a combat outpost. Three other US Soldiers and one civilian interpreter were wounded in the attack.
The Iraqi Soldier who allegedly opened fire fled the scene but was identified by other Iraqi Army personnel and was then apprehended. Two Iraqi Army Soldiers are More…now being held in connection with the incident.
Coalition and Iraqi investigations into the incident are underway.
The AP reported on the new version – but did not mention that the MNF had previously given a very different account and repeats Green Zone government claims that:
Initial results from an Iraqi investigation indicate that the soldier who opened fire may have links to local militants, said Brig. Mutaa Habib Jassim al-Khazrachi, commander of the Iraqi army’s 2nd Division, who did not elaborate.
They leave out the part of the story which is capturing attention in Iraq.
Aswat Al Iraq provided the initial lead that there was more that was not being reported here:
The U.S. side denied that this Iraqi soldier opened fire at U.S. servicemen because they sexually harassed an Iraqi girl, affirming that the scene where the incident took place was void of any civilians. (emph added)
The reports are that during searching the woman’s house the Americans assaulted her and when she was on the ground started to kick. The soldier who is named Caesar Saadi Al-Jibouri asked them to stop beating her and when via interpreter they refused saying that could do as they wished he went to one of the patrol vehicles and opened fire. (via email)
Dubhaltach mentions that the Iraqi soldier’s name identifies him as a member of one of the tribes involved in the “awakening” (that oh so successful Petraeus surge tactic of paying $300 per month to members of Sunni tribes to fight on the American occupation side):
Caesar Saadi Al-Jibouri means he is from the al-Jubouri tribe. He is from Al-Qiara which is a very "hot" area. It likely therefore that he is indeed a "concerned citizen" fighter and one moreover who at the very least knows people who have fought Americans.
and that the US Army statement to Aswat Al Iraq that the area was “void of any civilians” is belied by the actual location:
The incident took place during a search operation being carried out in Al-Siha (that is a district where the invaders are unpopular to put it mildly, Al Siha is on the right side of the river bank.) However the report says they were conducting operations prior to establishing a combat outpost. You do not establish combat outposts in unpopulated areas in or around a city you are attempting to subdue. I find it difficult therefore to believe that the area was "void of civilians" (via email)
Dubhaltach, who has served in Iraq with MNF forces, adds:
It would not surprise me if there is a considerable amount of truth in the part of the report that the woman was being beaten and kicked. It would hardly be the first time that Americans have done that.
Xinhuanet initially reported the MNF statement but is now providing a fuller account and includes statements of the Muslim Scholars Association who have
identified the Iraqi soldier as Qaisar Saadi al-Jubory and said the Iraqi soldier had shot the U.S. soldiers after he witnessed them beating a pregnant woman.
"His blood rose and he asked the occupying (U.S.) soldiers to stop beating the woman. Their answer through the translator was: ‘We will do what we want.’ So he opened fire on them."
Iraqi and American officials have denied the accusation.
"There is no indication that that is true and the matter remains under investigation," said U.S. military spokesman Colonel James Hutton.”
Roads to Iraq translates the Muslim Scholars Association statement as follows: (as a non Arabic speaker, I can’t vouch for their translation but it seems close to what Du has heard as well):
An American occupation force joined by the Iraqi forth regiment raided Al-Siha district at the right side of Mosul city.
They attacked a house of a pregnant woman, started beating her harshly and she was screaming and crying from the pain, one of the Iraqi government forces his name is Caesar Saadi Al-Jibouri from Al-Qiara district asked them to stop beating the woman, the answer came through the interpreter was “we do what we want”.
The Iraqi soldier went to one of the armed vehicles and opened fire killing three Americans among them a captain and injured the interpreter.
Whatever weakness occurred to the nation, there comes a time when they will revolt against the occupation just like Caesar’ [one man] revolution, this incident must be a good breakthrough for Iraqis who have been involved in the service of the occupier.
While the Association of Muslim Scholars condemns these criminal acts of the occupation forces, AMSI shows its jubilation with the heroic act from the Iraqi soldier and asks employees of the police and army to consider his act as role model.
Sources have reported to the GorillasGuides team that posters, leaflets and graffiti are appearing in Mosul praising “Caesar” for his actions.
Cernig at Newshoggers is also following this and writes with some caution:
The only reason it appears this contrary tale doesn’t appear in Western reporting of the incident is that no-one hunkered in the Green Zone bothered to look beyond the version put out by the Iraqi authorities. However, if U.S. military investigations into the incident were also examining such allegations then that would explain both the initial US reluctance to give out too many details or indeed to follow the Iraqi official version too closely now.
Let me make this clear – I find the Sunni insurgency version being given space by Iraqi papers neither more nor less credible than the official Iraqi military version. Such things have been accused before and on separate occasions have turned out both to be real happenings and fictitious propaganda. However, there have been coverups by both Iraqi and US authorities on some of the occasions when such allegations proved to be true in the past. (snip)
No, what I mean to highlight is that an important story with a massively negative potential "hearts and minds" impact has been missed by a Western media confined to the relative safety of imbeds and Green Zone reliance on stringers. The best way to deal with that potential is to acknowledge and cover the version in the Iraqi Sunni press and, should it be debunked, to say so loudly and with voluminous proof. Should it prove true, on the other hand, ignoring it will not make its impact disappear from the streets of Mosul.
I find it telling that this story is being hushed up in the US media in the same week that “the Marine Corps has decided that none of the Marines involved in the incident will be charged with murder” in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.
As a country that has refused to accept and enforce accountability for our illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, for the thuggish behavior of too many of our soldiers and for the uncounted civilian casualties that have resulted, any given report may or may not be true but the overall mistreatment of Iraqi civilians makes both actions like the shootings – and reactions like those of the Muslim Scholars Association inevitable.
Update: Eureka Springs noted via email the following NYT article this morning U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan and how it seems to coincide with comments last night from Eureka and several other firepups that their local military bases are shipping out new troops to Afghanistan. These reports were from Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Arizona and one other we can’t recall. (Tom Hayden makes a good point about Pakistan in the Huffington Post as well.) Just as we only are learning half the story on the shooting incident in Mosul in the American media, is there more going on here than we are being told?
h/t to Dubhaltach for taking time away from the family to provide so much help and to Eureka Springs for connecting the dots.
The YouTube above is the work of David Iles whose other videos can be viewed here.