Firas Al-Atraqchi / Freelance Columnist – 2004-11-07 23:43:03
(October 3, 2004) — A man of about 40 walks around the corpses festooning the hospital room, which has been made into a makeshift morgue. The corpses lie silent, hapless, yet serene.
The camera zooms in on the corpses, these despicable terrorists out to destroy normalcy, civilization, order, democracy, and faith.
The first is an infant of nine months, probably a boy, as he is wrapped in white and blue infant clothes. His mouth is gaping open, as if his little body instinctively gasped for its last breath. His eyes are open, staring into the nothingness.
The second terrorist-supporter of Jordanian-born mastermind Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi-is a young girl of four. She lies on a white sheet crowned by a pool of blood under her head, which seems peculiarly small compared to the rest of her body. The camera moves in to get a closer look and immediately the reason for the disproportionality is understood: the back of her head is not there, lost somewhere in the rubble of her home destroyed by yet another US precision strike against terrorists.
The camera quickly rebounds.
Next to her, another terrorist, a boy of about five, is caught in the last desperate moments. “They were all from one family,” says the man moving about the bodies.
“Insurgents”? No, These Are the Bodies of Children
He covers the faces of the children and motions to a table where two women lie. The camera lingers on their faces just long enough to show the viewer that they are women and then recoils in observance of local custom regarding filming women. Even in death, honor is supreme in this traditional city.
The video of the above scenes was broadcast throughout the Arab World and most of Europe. It was not seen in America. Two days earlier, the scene could have been repeated had it not been for luck and some divine faith. Another precision strike had leveled a home in the center of Fallujah.
Neighbors and medical workers rushed to dig through the rubble and were able to find a two-year-old baby. With cries of Allah Akbar (God is Great) in the background, the child was pulled out and hugged by an unidentified man of about 60. The boy was in shock, blood coming down his forehead. Then he started crying.
The camera cuts to a number of men furiously digging with their bare hands in a spot where they believe a woman has been buried alive under the rubble. Within moments-camera dodging around to get the best angle-the men unearth a blood-stained woman who, amid tears, begins babbling incoherently. The woman, we are later told, is the two-year-old’s mother.
A Entire Family Killed; A Baby Born into Flames
Another scene from Fallujah General Hospital: a 10-month-old baby is seen crying and screaming as doctors administer a cream to his burned hands and portions of his burned chest. The Aljazeera commentator says, “A new life was given to this child as all six members of his family were killed in today’s air strike on Fallujah.”
The above children are terrorists. That is, if you believe the comments of the US military in Iraq.
In one air strike, accompanied by artillery fire, a US military spokesperson-Major TV Johnson-said “100 militants were killed.” That may sit well with the US viewing public which is witness to Johnson’s comments but does not get to see who the shells are really raining down on.
Fallujah hospital sources said four women and children were killed in that particular attack. But the women and children of Iraq are terrorists.
Once More, US Bombs Are Killing Children in Fallujah
On the morning of Saturday, October 2, the scenes above were repeated — but with far more deadly consequences — when a US warplane bombed Fallujah. Local doctors said five people were killed, including one woman and two children. Eleven others were wounded, most of them children, doctors at Fallujah General Hospital said.
Aljazeera and other Arab media networks ran video footage of the ensuing carnage. Neighbors and well-doers were desperately digging through still smoking rubble. A child covered in dust was pulled out, the head oddly twisted, the neck broken. Dead.
Another child, a girl, was also pulled out and the shirt of the man who carried her was immediately covered in blood from the gaping hole in the right side of her head above her eye. We are not told if she is dead or wounded.
US Media Refuses to Show the Dead and Dying Children
US networks ran none of the above scenes. The BBC did to some level as did CNN international, but not domestic US networks. Not surprisingly, this writer received e-mails saying the doctors were lying, the video footage was faked, on and on.
US military authorities said many of the targeted houses (called safe-houses for Al-Zarqawi’s three-year-old supporters) experienced secondary explosions after they were struck by US ordnance. Maybe someone in the US-selected interim Iraqi government should have pointed out that nearly all Iraqi homes have several gas canisters, which are used for everything from oven and stove cooking to heating during winter. That’s what produces the secondary explosions.
Little wonder they wanted Arab media out of Iraq.
The international community must bear the responsibility of asking itself how Iraqis perceive this great war of liberation. When the world is outraged about the beheading of a contractor working to build US military bases in Iraq, but turns the other cheek when dozens of dead Iraqi children are chalked up to another statistic, what are Iraqis to think?
When foreign workers delivering goods to US forces are abducted, the world is aghast, but when thousands of Iraqis are still missing because of a wave of kidnappings or locked up in US-run detention centers like Abu Ghraib, we hear barely a whimper.
This is progress. This is the hard task of building democracy. This is how to liberate an oppressed people from tyranny. The ever-increasing death tolls in Iraq do not distinguish between Shi’ite or Sunni-it’s an all-opportunity meat grinder.
Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian journalist of Iraqi heritage. Holding an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication, he has eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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