Press Accounts Of Second Alleged Atrocity Don’t Add Up
While details of the Haditha incident continue to unfold, eight other Marines are being held shackled in solitary confinement for the alleged premeditated murder of an Iraqi civilian, Hashim Ibrahim Awad al-Zobaie. But analysis of the details of that case provided to the press by the family simply do not add up.
OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Supporters of seven Marines and a Navy Corpsman held at Camp Pendleton in connection with the death of an Iraqi civilian picketed outside the base’s main gate in Oceanside Saturday to call for their release.
According to press accounts linked below, here is what is alleged to have happened. Also note, in press accounts that themselves differ from one another, both Knight Ridder and the WaPo state the accounts cannot be independently confirmed.
Awad al-Zobaie’s cousin, Farhan Ahmed Hussein, said Americans came to his door asking to search the home. He claims to have given them an AK-47 and they took a shovel before thanking him and leaving.
Awad’s cousin, Farhan Ahmed Hussein, said Americans came to his door in the early morning hours of April 26 and pounded on it so forcefully that he knew that if he didn’t open it, they would.
… He said he didn’t think much of it. "I told myself first thing in the morning, I will stop the first patrol I see and ask them for my AK-47 and shovel back," he said.
The Marines then went next door to his brother’s home, Awad Ibrahim Awad. His brother didn’t feel like getting out of bed and the Marines left.
Awad Ibrahim Awad said the Marines knocked at around 2 a.m., but that he decided not to get out of bed. They left.
So the first brother insists the Marines were ready to kick in his door, the other doesn’t answer and the Marines just leave? They sure did calm down walking across the yard, wouldn’t you say?
So, the second brother, Awad Ibrahim Awad, who did not get out of bed, now decides to look out his window.
Surprised, he said he looked outside – the area is illuminated with generator-powered lights – and saw the Marines walking behind his brother’s house toward the home of a neighbor.
"The soldiers asked my mom if there were any men in our house. When she told them no, they left without searching the house," the neighbor, who asked to be identified only as Mohammed, said.
Safely assuming this Mohammed is a male, the woman was lying, but still the Marines simple left. But now we go back to the account of the one brother, Awad Ibrahim Awad.
Awad Ibrahim Awad said the Marines then knocked at Hashim Awad’s door. When he came to the door, two Marines grabbed each of his hands and pulled him out of the house. The Marines took Hashim Awad and left without searching inside, Awad Ibrahim Awad said.
Grabbed him by his hands? That’s one account. Another insists they grabbed him by his cotton robe.
The Marines grabbed Hashim by the front of his cotton robe as soon as he came to the door, pulling him from the house, said one of his sons, Nasir, 26, an arts student in Baghdad.
So the alleged victim was the brother’s brother? I thought we were talking cousins here?
"They looked like people who found what they were looking for," Awad Ibrahim Awad said. "I told my wife, `They took my brother, but I think he will be fine.’ And I told myself: `What’s the worse they do? Investigate him for a few days and then release him because he is innocent.’ Thirty minutes later, I heard gunshots."
The next day, as Awad Ibrahim Awad was working at a nearby gas station, Iraqi police pulled in and asked him to identify the body of someone from his neighborhood who’d been killed by the Americans. He stared at the body, which had an AK-47 and shovel next to it, but didn’t recognize his brother.
The WaPo stated the AK-47 and shovel were taken from a villager. But KR indicates they were taken from one of what are now apparently three brothers.
The assault rifle and shovel next to his body had been planted by the Marines, who had borrowed them from a villager, family members and other residents said.
In any case, we’re to believe that one brother saw the alleged victim, his brother, taken by the Marines in the middle of the night, he heard gun shots thirty minutes later – yet when asked the very next morning to identify a man shot by Marines in the night, allegedly his brother, who had a telling physical defect, … he couldn’t do it without going home, thinking it over and then going back?
"I saw a swollen face, and signs that he had been beaten. And it was clear a bullet had been shot into the mouth and broke part of his bottom teeth," he said. "I told the police officers, `I know this man,’ but I cannot recognize him. He was beaten to the point that I couldn’t recognize his face."
He claims his brother was shot in the lip, but doesn’t mention what is alleged to be three other bullet wounds to his face?
The Post also obtained photographs of a dead man, identified by the family and Iraqi authorities as Hashim, wrapped in plastic sheeting in a wooden casket. What appeared to be at least four bullet holes could be seen in the photo — two in one cheek, one in the chin and one in the lip.
That seems a little strange to me.
Awad Ibrahim said it never occurred to him that the body might be his brother’s. "He didn’t have an AK-47 or shovel when the Americans took him," he said. "And besides, the Americans took him. How can he be dead and in police hands now?"
But something nagged at him, so he went to the hospital and looked at the body again. This time he recognized his brother by his leg, which had been damaged in a farming accident 15 years ago.
This has to be questionable, at best. How could anyone watch their brother taken away during the night, hear shooting, then not at least look close enough for a telling sign it was his brother when asked about it the next day? That along with only mentioning one facial wound doesn’t add up.
The man is said to live in a one story walled compound.
Members of Hashim’s family interviewed by a Washington Post special correspondent on Saturday said the disabled man’s last hours began about 2 a.m. on April 26, when members of a U.S. Marine foot patrol banged at the door of his one-story, walled compound.
But above his brother said this: When he came to the door, two Marines grabbed each of his hands and pulled him out of the house. The Marines took Hashim Awad and left without searching inside, Awad Ibrahim Awad said.
They must be pretty short walls for someone nearby who never left their house to have witnessed events in such detail. Also, given that the Marines in question signed a declaration of the incident, why on earth would there be a need for plastic gloves?
At daylight, the family found a wide hole in the dirt road about 500 yards from their home, wet with bloodstains and littered with discarded plastic gloves.
According to the declaration, the incident occured at approximately 0300. The family claims the Marines knocked at the first door around 0200. Whatever transpired took place within one hour. Now today headlines are saying it could be a planned murder. It seems to me that all hinges on claims that Marines took the shovel and AK-47 from the first house. And now this.
Yesterday, San Diego attorney Jeremiah Sullivan III called a news conference to accuse the Naval Criminal Investigative Service of “questionable tactics.” He accused its agents of threatening the suspects – including his client, the corpsman – with the death penalty and using “extremely lengthy interrogations to coerce” information.
The reality is that while Hamdaniyah is a Sunni village, the police are aligned with the Shites.
Local police, who are Shiite Muslims although the area is Sunni, also said the small, crippled man with the gray and brown stubble was not known to have connections to the insurgency.
Reports indicate the body was delivered to the police immediately after the incident. The press is even keeping names of its so-called reporters private in some cases.
A Knight Ridder special correspondent who could not be named for security reasons reported this story from Hamdania. Also, Knight Ridder special correspondent Zaineb Obeid contributed to this report.
And it is also well known that the US pays what amounts to blood money, the value changing with regard to the circumstances and relationship with the victim. It is fair to conclude that the media is putting out information which has, by its own admission, not been confirmed. And the Bush administration is now extremely sensitive to these types of charges. It’s also fair to wonder if some of our enemies haven’t figured that out and are becoming increasingly proficient at circulating precisely the types of stories the MSM loves to seek out.
Meanwhile, eight Marines sit in shackled in solitary confinement for what could prove to be nothing more than a public relations problem and an exercise in greed on the part of some Iraqis.
Here’s another wonderful bit from the WaPo cprrespondent Ellen Knickmeyer I happened across on line today.
Wheaton, Md.: Why does The Washington Post keep referring to Zarqawi as an "insurgent leader?" Are you afraid to use the word "terrorist?" If Zarqawi wasn’t a terrorist, who is?
Ellen Knickmeyer: We try to avoid terms that imply judgment, and ‘terrorist” is one of them. Our job is to present the facts, and when the facts about Zarqawi are that he targeted civilians specifically and liked to behead hostages personally, the facts do speak for themselves.
Dunn Loring, Va.: How much judgment is involved in declaring that someone who cuts off the head of a conscious human being is a "terrorist"?
Ellen Knickmeyer: Why is it necessary for a reporter to make that judgment? Do you as a reader need to be told what judgment to reach?