by Human Rights Watch –
Muhammad Subhi Hassan al-Qubaisi and Wafa’ `Abd al-Latif have four sons, aged twelve to twenty. The two youngest are twins, Muhammad and Mustafa. According to the family, the older boys liked to sleep on the roof during the hot summer months. The older brothers made the younger twins carry their bedding upstairs.
The same ritual took place on June 26. But on this night, a foot patrol of the 82nd Airborne was in the neighborhood, Hay al-Jihad, as young Muhammad went upstairs around 10:30 p.m. Apparently mistaking the bedding for a weapon, the soldiers shot Muhammad dead. Muhammad’s mother Wafa’ `Abd al-Latif told Human Rights Watch what happened next:
I was downstairs. I heard the shot and Mustafa shouted “Muhammad!” We brought Muhammad downstairs and he was bleeding. I held him. The soldiers were moving around and when they heard the shot, they came here. Maybe they thought they had been attacked.
Two neighbors took the wounded Muhammad to the hospital in a car, but US soldiers at a nearby checkpoint did not let them through because the 11:00 p.m. curfew was approaching.
One of the neighbors, Yassir `Ala’, told Human Rights Watch that he and another neighbor, Jassim Muhammad, put Muhammad in his car. The interpreter with the soldiers said he would call ahead to the checkpoint to let the car through but he either did not call or the message did not get through because the road was blocked, `Ala’s said. Instead, the soldiers made them sit in the car for 15 minutes and then forced the two men to lie on the ground while Muhammad was bleeding in the back. Muhammad died in the meantime and they were told to return home.
$500 to Cover Burial Expenses for 11-year-old Mhuammad
The U.S. military offered Muhammad’s father, Subhi Hassan al-Qubaisi, $500 to cover the funeral expenses, but the father told Human Rights Watch he had engaged a lawyer and was requesting more. Some members of his tribe were pressuring him to take revenge, he said, but he was still hoping the incident could be resolved “with some forgiveness and some compensation.”
The U.S. military did not conduct an investigation into the incident. Human Rights Watch requested information on the case from the legal department of the 82nd Airborne’s 2nd Brigade on October 5 but, despite promises of a reply within four days, there had been no response as of October 16. According to Major Jenkinson, with whom Human Rights Watch spoke briefly about the case, Muhammad was not holding bedding, but an assault rifle. “The kid had an AK-47 on the steps,” he said.
“The soldiers determined the situation was hostile and engaged the individual,” U.S. military spokesman Maj. Sean Gibson told the press at the time of the incident. “It was not until after the search was under way that they discovered that it was an eleven-year-old boy.”
For the full report, go to the Human Rights Watch website: