one was pretty unpleasant to read. The U.S. war propoganda, the backroom
jockeying for position in post-war Iraq, the
fire a warning shot soon enough!’
A journalist’s account of the killing of a car full of Iraqi civilians by US
soldiers differs widely from the official military version, says Brian
journalist’s account of the killing of a car full of Iraqi civilians by US
soldiers differs widely from the official military version, says Brian Whitaker
Tuesday April 1, 2003
The invasion forces
suffered another self-inflicted disaster in the battle for hearts and minds
yesterday when soldiers from the US 3rd infantry division shot dead Iraqi seven
women and children.
The incident occurred on Route 9, near Najaf, when a
car carrying 13 women and children approached a checkpoint.
military spokesman says the soldiers motioned the vehicle to stop but their
signals were ignored. However, according to the Washington Post, Captain Ronny
Johnson, who was in charge of the checkpoint, blamed his own troops for ignoring
orders to fire a warning shot.
“You just *censored*ing killed a family because
you didn’t fire a warning shot soon enough!”, he reportedly yelled at them.
In another checkpoint incident this morning, US forces say they killed
an unarmed Iraqi driver outside Shatra.
Meanwhile it has emerged – as a
result of detective work on the internet by a Guardian reader – that the
explosion in a Baghdad market which killed more than 60 people last Friday was
indeed caused by a cruise missile and not an Iraqi anti-aircraft rocket as the
US has suggested.
A metal fragment found at the scene by British
journalist Robert Fisk carried various markings, including “MFR 96214 09″. This,
our reader pointed out in an email, is a manufacturer’s identification number
known as a “cage code”.
Cage codes can be looked up on the internet ( www.gidm.dlis.dla.mil ), and keying in
the number 96214 traces the fragment back to a plant in McKinney, Texas, owned
by the Raytheon Company.
Raytheon, whose headquarters are in Lexington,
Massachusetts, aspires “to be the most admired defence and aerospace systems
supplier through world-class people and technology”, according to its website ( www.raytheon.com ). It makes a vast
array of military equipment, including the AGM-129 cruise missile which is
launched from B-52 bombers.
On the political front, two new quarrels
have broken out. One centres on an attempt by the US to set up its own
inspection team to find the alleged Iraqi weapons that United Nations inspectors
did not find. The US appears unaware that such a project will have little
credibility internationally and has pressed ahead, offering jobs to some of the
The two chief UN inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohamed
ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Authority, are reportedly
furious. Dr Baradei, in remarks quoted by the BBC, insisted that the IAEA is the
sole body with legal authority to verify any nuclear programmes in Iraq.
The other row concerns the new Pentagon-controlled Iraqi government that
the US is establishing in Kuwait, with 23 ministries, each headed by an American
and with four US-appointed Iraqi advisers.
Former US general Jay Garner,
who was placed in overall charge of the “interim government”, is annoyed by the
efforts of Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, to impose several
controversial Iraqis as advisers in the government.
They include Ahmed
Chalabi, head of the opposition Iraqi National Congress, who will be offered an
advisory post in the finance ministry. Mr Chalabi was previously convicted in
his absence of a multi-million dollar banking fraud in Jordan, though he denies
Mr Wolfowitz wants posts in other ministries to go to Mr
Chalabi’s nephew, Salem, and to three of his close associates, Tamara
Daghestani, Goran Talebani and Aras Habib.
In an interview with the BBC
yesterday, the British home secretary, David Blunkett, conceded that at present
the invasion forces are “seen as villains”, but he added:
“Once this is
over and there is a free Iraq, with a democratic state … the population as a
whole will say that we want a free country, we want a state to live in where we
can use our talents to the full.”
The veteran American war
correspondent, Peter Arnett, was sacked by NBC television yesterday for giving
an interview to an Iraqi TV journalist in which he said the US had “misjudged
the determination of the Iraqi forces”. He was immediately offered a new job by
a British newspaper, the Daily Mirror, which opposes the war.
war-related tragedy has occurred in Israel, where two elderly sisters were found
dead – apparently suffocated – in a room that they had made airtight against a
possible Iraqi chemical attack. Three others died in similar circumstances a
On the ground in Iraq, battles continue in various
locations. US forces “testing” the southern defences of Baghdad are reportedly
fighting Republican Guards and other forces at Hindiya, some 50 miles from the
Fighting has also erupted along the Euphrates river near
ancient Babylon. US marines entered Shatra, 20 miles north of Nassiriya, after
storming it with planes, tanks and helicopter gunships, and British Royal
Marines clashed with Iraqi paramilitaries south of Basra.
Baghdad continued overnight. Targets included the Iraqi national Olympic
committee, which is run by Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday.
At least one
American soldier has been reported killed at Hindiya. A British soldier was also
killed yesterday – the 26th since the war began. The defence ministry said he
died “in the course of his duties” but gave no details.