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06 July 2006

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McGee

As far as I can tell this has not really exploded in the Arab press as of yet. The Iraqi papers have actually tried to keep it off the front pages at the request of the Maliki government.

When it does blow up (and it will very soon), soldiers stationed in Iraq (and by extension Afghanistan or anywhere else in the ME) better watch their backs closely. This could get very ugly in a hurry...

Dan

Of course this is the realm of speculation: But what i find very strange is that these 5 men were operating a traffic control point alone. They were in bandit territory proper and I have never seen a TCP operated by five soldiers or Marines alone anywhere in Iraq.

Was there not in fact at least a second humvee? If so, that's shocking. Was there a second humvee that didn't report the shooting/partipate in the alleged coverup? Also shocking.

If they were just the five soldiers in one truck, was this some kind of really stupid SOP for this company?

I'm not entirely convinced by the eyewitness claims that the three ambushed soldiers became cut off when their comrades were lured away somehow. Were these three also on their own? Even if they weren't, how did they get so separated from potential comrades that their attackers had the time to drag off two of them and mutilate them?

Clearly bad leadership at the platoon and company level here, but how much higher?

Dan

Oh, and about the crime scene photos: This at least has a good explanation.

The affadavit says that a group of Iraqi soldiers and four American soldiers went to the residence after the murder was reported to them.

The affadavit says that at the time investigators believed the crime was carried out by Iraqis (well "anti-Iraqi forces" as the affadavit has it).

While the afadavit doesn't say so, this seems pretty clearly when the pictures were taken.

W. Patrick Lang

Dan

I have issues like that also.

1-Havng been an enlisted soldier in a rifle platoon and then a platoon leader in a rifle platoon I do not understand how these men could have done this without everyone in the platoon knowing about it either in advance or shortly afterward. Those of you who have been in this kind of unit know that the relationship is so close that you can't get away from these guys.

2- What about the lieutenant platoon leader, the platoon sergeant and the squad leaders? Where the ---- were they, on Mars?

3- How did these men get off the FOB unobserved? Going into the "ville" in civilian clothes for a pizza?

4- They had been drinking? How? What? I thought booze was a no, no in Iraq. Making it? Blackmarket from contractors or locals?

5- The officers in this obvious cover-up probably thought correctly that it meant the end of their careers. Did they think that it would be a good idea to combine that with lifelong disgrace? pl

Larry Mitchell

This has to be the worst mess I have ever heard of. Is there any way that the US military can be effective from this point on in Iraq? If Murtha had a point several months ago about US military effectiveness in Iraq, does this event not clinch it? Won't the new Iraq government have to distance itself from the US military in order to have any credibility at all with their countrymen?

Dan

Hey -- On the booze, you can still get beer and cheap spirits all over baghdad.

Soldiers aren't supposed to drink, of course, but you hear about it all the time (though I've never seen it or been offered a drink, sadly).

Again, the way it's written in the afadavit they were out on a mission -- to man "TCP1."

I guess maybe each division has it's own procedures for traffic checkpoings. But they can't be that different.

In the exhaustive report on the shooting of the italian intelligence agent Calipari on the airport road in baghdad (who had helped free Guiliana Sgrena), there's a discussion of the outlined procedures for a TCP in the 3rd ID's published Field Standard Operating Procedures. 3ID's procedures, at any rate call for both a search area and an overwatch area. The "minimum leader requirements" for setting one up are: map recon, mission briefing, safety briefing, and back brief to the commander or a designated rep.

The procedures also calls for a gunner in a humvee keeping overwatch. In the Calipari incident, there were only two humvees and seven soldiers involved, a 2nd lt, staff sergeant, 2 sergeants, and three specialists. They were also in frequent radio contact with a captain, who was in his own truck in the area.

The Calipari report has an annex discussing how worried he was having such a small group of soldiers in a static position for over 15 minutes, and kept calling into his TOC for permission to abandon the checkpoint.

All the above may be irrelevant, but it's worth keeping in mind how these things are typically done.

Green Zone Cafe

Yes, Colonel, there are no off-base passes for recreation in Iraq. Especially in Mahmoudiyah, which is one of the most dangerous areas. As far as liquor goes, Iraq is like one big duty free shop, it's cheaper there than here. There are casual vendors among the Iraqis, and the contractors can always get it, although the Army and KBR have cracked down in the last year.

It will be interesting but nauseating how they try to cover-up the cover-up.

I guess they will stonewall behind Green's medical privacy rights on the issue of his discharge for anti-social personality disorder, say the discharge was caused by something else, like killing stray cats or not taking showers or bad toilet habits.

Christian Sporleder

Original commenter here, just to clarify that much of my comment was from a thought provoking thread on Talkleft.com, from Rick B, Scribe, and Tom.

Much of my comment is synthesis to ask the obvious question about superiors, and other potential defendants - neither of which there is any sign of yet.

Just don't want to take sole credit.

Thanks for continuing and deepening the discussion

jonst

I repeat what I wrote in a previous comment. This is a huge, unfolding, event. The army will cover this up, if the decide to do so, at its , and the nation's peril. This is the canary in cold mine for the mission.

It goes far beyond one crazy PFC. Evert thing about the Unit should be reviewed. Heads should roll. But I suspect they won't. They will hide the dead 'canary'and in the process raise the stakes of the next disaster.

john

Please excuse a digression from the direction of the discussion but McGee’s comment prompted me to take a quick at the Arabic press—a few headlines:

Al-Jazeera – “Does the rape of an Iraqi teenager reflect the behavior of American forces?”
Hayat – “Maliki ties the crimes of the Americans to their immunity; the Minister of Justice demands the abrogation of Bremer’s law”
Middle East Online – “Maliki demands an investigation into the American soldiers’ rape of an Iraqi teenager”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat – “Maliki wants Iraqi participation in the investigations of the rape and murder of ‘Abir”
Al-Zaman – “Representative [female member of parliament] demands summoning Maliki and undertaking an Iraqi investigation – the American soldier admits raping the Iraqi [teenager] and murdering her along with her family in Mahmudiyah”

The Hayat article claims American officials hid the crime for three months. Maliki apparently is/was in Kuwait. The story is getting play. Some articles are translations of or attributed to the WaPo, AP, and the FBI affidavit; most refer to the crime as premeditated murder.

A few comments following the story on al-Arabiya’s site:

“Justice and freedom the American way
I think that these crimes are not surprising from the greatest butchers and war criminals in history. Beginning with the ethnic cleansing of the Red Indians to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massacres in Vietnam and blind allegiance to money, weapons as well as the Israeli veto for the sake of slaughtering the people, all of them, stealing their homeland once called Palestine, and deleting it from the map of the world. Finally, what is happening in Iraq; murder, destruction, rape, torture, and deviant sexual practices for the sake of spreading what is called justice, freedom, and democracy. Is there more justice and freedom than what the Iraqi people are suffering now from American hands?”

Or the more direct

“Oh Lord … When will this ignominy end? Where are you masters of the booby-trap vehicles or explosive vests … or is it for oppressed Iraqis [alone]? Is it justice, oh Lord, that protects the honor of [those] who brought us to this shame and dishonor and soil the honor of free men in the mud? Oh Lord, until when?”

However, a few commentators are defending the US and believe our system of justice is superior to that found in Arab nations.

Green Zone Cafe

Thank you Chris for the original synthesis, and to John for the sampling of Arab reaction.

McGee

John re arab press comment:

Immediately after sending my initial comment, realized I should have made clear that the local press and the Iraqi govt. are just now starting to push this story out. Really hasn't got traction yet, and they did try very hard to keep it out of the news until the last few days when they had no choice as US media was running with it...

Chris

The Iraqi government would love this to go away. The cultural response to rape is dishonor, plus they look impotent in response.

But here's an interesting detailed account of the crime from an islamic source. Who knows how much creedence to give this report, the propanda angle is one reason the initial complaints, like so many, were disregarded. However the forthcoming "piece of cloth" detail was matched in other media reports about the crime scene photos.

"Babil Province.

Al-Mahmudiyah.

Mafkarat al-Islam: eyewitness testimony about US rape, murder of Iraqi family in al-Mahmudiyah in March.

In a dispatch posted at 11:55pm Makkah time Saturday night, Mafkarat al-Islam submitted its correspondents’ in-depth report on the rape and murder case in March that the American military have now been compelled to investigate.

Mafkarat al-Islam noted that the number of rapes of Iraqi women committed by US occupation troops is already legion and continues to climb. Many women have been victimized within Abu Ghurayb and the other prisons; while many others have fallen prey to the rapists in American uniform who prowl the large prison that is occupied Iraq.

But there is one case of rape that has come to the surface in recent days, which stands out for a savagery and brutality that goes beyond all bounds.

On an afternoon in March 2006, a force of 10 to 15 American troops raided the home of Qasim Hamzah Rashid al-Janabi, who was born in 1970 and who worked as a guard at a state-owned potato storehouse. Al-Janabi lived with his wife, Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, and their four children – ‘Abir (born 1991), Hadil (born 1999), Muhammad (1998), and Ahmad (1996).

The Americans took Qasim, his wife, and their daughter Hadil and put them in one room of their house. The boys Ahmad and Muhammad were at school since the time the Americans invaded the home was about 2pm. The Americans shot Qasim, his wife, and their daughter in that room. They pumped four bullets into Qasim’s head and five bullets in to Fakhriyah’s abdomen and lower abdomen. Hadil was shot in the head and shoulder.

After that, the Americans took ‘Abir into the next room and surrounded her in one corner of the house. There they stripped her, and then the 10 Americans took turns raping her. They then struck her on the head with a sharp instrument – according to the forensic medical report – knocking her unconscious – and smothered her with a cushion until she was dead. Then they set fire to her body.

The neighbor of the martyred family told the correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam:

“At 2pm a force of Americans raided the home of the martyr Qasim, God rest his soul. They surrounded him and I heard the sound of gunfire. Then the gunfire fell silent. An hour later I saw clouds of smoke rising from the room and then the occupation troops came quickly out of the house. They surrounded the area together with Shi‘i ‘Iraqi National Guard’ forces, and they told us that terrorists from al-Qa‘idah had entered the house and killed them all. They wouldn’t let any of us into the house. But I told one of the ‘National Guard’ soldiers that I was their neighbor and that I wanted to see them so that I could tell al-Hajj Abu al-Qasim the news about his son and his son’s family, so one of the soldiers agreed to let me enter.

“So I went into the house and found in the first room the late Qasim and his wife and Hadil. Their bodies were swimming in blood. Their blood had spewed out of their bodies with such force that it had flowed out from under the door of the room. I turned them over but there was no response; their lives were already gone.”

The neighbor continued his account: “Then I went into ‘Abir’s room. Fire was coming out of her. Her head and her chest were on fire. She had been put in a pitiful position; they had lifted her white gown to her neck and torn her bra. Blood was flowing from between her legs even though she had died a quarter of an hour earlier, and in spite of the intensity of the fire in the room. She had died, may God rest her soul. I knew her from the first instant. I knew she had been raped since she had been turned on her face and the lower part of her body was raised while her hands and feet had been tied. By God, I couldn’t control myself and broke into tears over her, but I quickly extinguished the fire burning from her head and chest. The fire had burned up her breasts, the hair on her head, and the flesh on her face. I covered her privates with a piece of cloth, God rest her soul. And at that moment, I thought to myself that if I go out talking and threatening, that they would arrest me, so I took control of myself and resolved to leave the house calmly so that I could be a witness to tell the story of this tragedy.

“After three hours the [American] occupation troops surrounded the house and told the people of the area that the family had been killed by terrorists because they were Shi‘ah. Nobody in town believed that story because Abu ‘Abir was known as one of the best people of the city, one of the noblest, and no Shi‘i, but a Sunni monotheist. Everyone doubted their story and so after the sunset prayers the occupation troops took the four bodies away to the American base. Then the next day they handed them over to the al-Mahmudiyah government hospital and told the hospital administration that terrorists had killed the family. That morning I went with relatives of the deceased to the hospital. We received the bodies and buried them, may God have mercy on them.”

The neighbor went on: “Then we decided that we must not be silent so we asked the mujahideen to respond as quickly as possible. They responded with 30 attacks on the occupation in two days, bringing down more than 40 American soldiers. But our blood was still not cooled, so we decided to go to al-‘Arabiyah satellite TV to tell them the story since it is a station that broadcasts in Iraq. But al-‘Arabiyah paid no attention to us and said we were liars. They told us that their policy was to rely on official announcements issued by the American army, and that they were not able to get into a story over which they had no power. This was told to us by the al-‘Arabiyah correspondent Ahmad as-Salih. So we went to local newspapers and they slammed the doors in our faces because we are Sunnis and the rape victim was a Sunni girl. But the Resistance fighters told us that God does not allow the blood of any Muslim to be lost, and they told us to patiently persevere and we would see such a punishment for the blood of ‘Abir and her family, for the violation of the honor of our sister, a punishment that would make people’s hair stand on end.

“I personally wasn’t surprised that Umm ‘Abir [‘Abir’s mother] came to me on 9 March 2006 and asked that ‘Abir be allowed to spend the night with my daughters. She was afraid because of the way the occupation troops looked at her when she went out to feed the cows. I agreed to that because there was an occupation forces’ command post just 15 meters from Qasim’s house, God rest his soul. But frankly I thought it unlikely that anything would happen to the girl because she was only something like 16 and she was just a little girl. But I agreed and she spent one night at our place and then went back to her home in the morning. We had no idea that the occupation troops would carry out heir crime in broad daylight.”

The neighbor concluded: “The occupation troops came last Friday – that is, one day before the Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent visited the scene of the crime – and asked the people of the area to exhume the body of ‘Abir to conduct tests on it. And they also asked me to provide eyewitness testimony and I will go anywhere to make sure that justice is served.”

Mafkarat al-Islam was the first news agency to disclose the crime committed by US troops on that March day in al-Mahmudiyah.

john

McGee,

Wasn't doubting you, just thought I would take a look see. The suppression of bad news is understandable both there and here. Crime took a long time to break, and the Arab press/blogosphere seems to have followed the US press--as you say, they were forced into reporting the crime. I imagine the spin wizards are still trying to figure how to minimize the overspray.

W. Patrick Lang

Christian

For the moment I am willing to believe that we just aren't there yet. pl

Mike

Where is the link to the FBI affadavit?

One idea that is gaining some traction - and might explain the hush-hush from the Platoon level on up through Battalion - is that this was a false flag op bad.


From http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2006/07/rape-murder-and-conspiracy.html

More mystery: Initial reports said that Green and the others changed into civilian clothes before the attack. Why? Obviously, they did not intend to pass as American tourists. Obviously, authorites would not give a cover story for an atrocity commit by four Americans disguised as civilians. Obviously, the soldiers hoped to pass as Iraqis -- as mujahideen.

Was this whole operation a bungled psy-op? Were the soldiers instructed to commit an atrocity while posing as insurgents? That theory may be speculative -- but to me, it makes more sense than does the official story.

Think about it. A group of Ameican soldiers leave base -- supposedly without their commanding officer's knowledge. They are dressed as insurgents. They commit a despicable act. They return. Other military men immediately come to the scene and ascribe the crime to the insurgency. The cover story falls apart because the Americans foolishly got the victims' religion wrong.

If you don't like the psy-op theory, feel free to come up with another one that covers all of these facts....

So, if you allow yourself to follow this line of thinking, maybe the shorthand for the other three involved translates into SO12 & SO13 are SpecOps 12 & 13 and KP1 is Kurdish Peshmerga.. just letting my imgination run here.

john

findlaw has the complaint:
http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs
/iraq/usgreen63006cmp.html.

W. Patrick Lang

Mike

1- I don't believe the US would do that.

2- If they were to do that, line infantry troops would not be used. pl

john

The complaint, thanks Chris, sets the stage for the charges against Green. He is out of the Army and the CID folks apparently had to reel him in through the FBI (any mil-civilian legal experts?). Green, KP1, and souces of information 1-3 were on duty at a traffic control point. The complaint uses the statements of five sources of information. SOI1 stayed at the checkpoint while SOI2 and SOI3 went with Green and known participant 1 to the house but did not commit the murders or the rape. KP1 raped the young woman (I’d say this guy’s butt is in a sling). SOI5 was on duty at another checkpoint and was involved after an Iraqi reported finding the corpses of the murdered family. He went to the scene with others.

The complaint does not reveal the ranks of the other soldiers. However, Green was the apparent ringleader. One curious item in the complaint is in paragraph 8. SOI4 at the FOB told SOI1 that he had heard what happened and asked SOI1 who did it. SOI1 answered “everyone who was there.” This exchange appears without a time reference but suggests at least some of the soldiers had knowledge that the crime had American perpetrators.

The complaint had just enough info to arrest Green and, naturally, did not include his statement. Hopefully, the investigation will find the Iraqi who reported the crime to SOI5. He might answer the question about when Iraqis and Americans knew the identities of the perpetrators. Lots of questions remain about the TTP and unit SOP for the checkpoint operations--C2 issues. Other questions remain about a possible cover up.

Stephen

My objections is refereing to a 15 year old girl as a woman.

Call it as it is - raping a child.

W. Patrick Lang

Stephen

In the context of her society she is a woman. pl

Freeman

Col -- Following on your last remark, in the context of her society it wasn't rape either. The act has to be witnessed by 4 Muslim males before it counts as rape, as some tragic stonings-to-death have confirmed.
Fortunately, we don't live by the screwed-up rules of such society, and I hope that in the end western justice will prevail, including for the murdered US troops.

Dan

Mike: There is no reason to think this was an ordered attrocity. Especially since it's a military investigation that (slowly and haltingly to be sure) is revealing the crime). There is zero evidence to suggest this. There is little mystery that a group of soldiers participating in a pre-meditated crime would try to cover their tracks by changing their clothes. Criminals generally try to cover their tracks.

The thing that makes the most sense is that a small group of soldiers committed a truly horrible crime.

Freeman: This absolutely was a rape in the "context" of Iraqi society. Iraq's courts don't require four male witnesses to convict. Their laws of evidence on this matter is about like the US.

W. Patrick Lang

Freemen

Iraq has a civil law code. In any event, the crime of rape does not require 4 witnesses to convinct under Sharia. This is "hiraba" and circumstantial evidence and forensic evidence suffice. Perhaps you are thinking of the requirement for proof of adultery. pl

john

Dan,

Your statement “There is little mystery that a group of soldiers participating in a pre-meditated crime would try to cover their tracks by changing their clothes. Criminals generally try to cover their tracks.” took me back to my first assignment at Fort Stewart. Two soldiers robbed the on-post bank in uniform but they neglected to cover their name tapes. After the robbery another planning weakness quickly manifested itself. The soldiers fled the scene of the crime in a taxi cab which dropped them off at their barracks.

I don’t know how the law works in Iraq regarding rape. However, Pakistani law has zina-al-jabr (nonconsensual/forced sex). Proof is either the rapist’s confession or four eyewitnesses. A Pakistani rape case was in the news a while back (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1907-2005Mar25.html). Perhaps freeman refers to this.

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