Marines in Haditha “totally tweaked out on speed”
The US is so screwed. Not only are eyewitnesses recounting more grisly details of the massacre in Haditha but reports are emerging of rampant drug and alcohol abuse among the marines involved.
Thaer al-Hadithi, a member and spokesman for the Hammurabi human rights association, a Sunni Muslim group, recounted with the help of a satellite map when and where Iraqi civilians cowered and sometimes died.This alone is enough to recruit legions upon legions of men and women alike, from any faith or national origin, against the war criminals responsible for this barbaric, cowardly act.* * *
Al-Hadithi, 42, said he had been visiting his family in Haditha in western Iraq for a Muslim holiday when he was awakened on the morning of Nov. 19 by an explosion that he later learned to be a roadside bomb that hit a U.S. convoy of four Humvees, killing one Marine.* * *
Al-Hadithi offered new details on how that might have happened. He said the roadside bombing took place on a road about 100-150 yards from his family home.
"There was an eerie silence after the explosion," he said in Hammurabi's Baghdad offices.
"Then, we started to hear noises, soldiers shouting, that grew louder and louder," said al-Hadithi, who spoke with a map of the town he downloaded from the Internet.
The first gunshots were heard at around 7:30 a.m., he said, when the Marines moved into the family home of Abdul-Hamid Hassan Ali, a blind and elderly man in failing health. The house is just south of the spot where the roadside bomb went off, al-Hadithi said.
Later, the Marines moved next door to the house of Younis Salem Rsayef and his family.
"There was intense gunfire and I could see a fire at the Rsayef home," said al-Hadithi, who watched from a window at his family home.
One of the 24 bodies taken to Haditha's main hospital late on Nov. 19 was charred, according to Walid Abdul-Hameed al-Obeidi, the hospital director. That was believed to be one of Rsayef's sons, who witnesses said was burned to death after a grenade was thrown into his room.
Ali and his wife Khamisa Toamah Ali were killed along with three of their sons, a daughter-in-law and a grandson, according to witnesses, hospital officials and human rights workers.
In the second home, eight people were killed: Rsayef, his wife, her sister and five children.
"You could tell that someone was killed by the gunfire and then the wailing and screaming of women seconds after the Americans left the house," said al-Hadithi.
He said the Marines stormed the house of Ayed Ahmed, the closest to al-Hadithi's own home, at about 10:30 a.m. There, he said, four brothers, all of fighting age, were ordered inside a closet and shot dead. Everyone else was spared, al-Hadithi said.
At about the same time, a man who stepped out of his nearby house to see what was happening at Ayed Ahmed's home was shot and wounded, according to al-Hadithi. Aws Fahmi, 43, was left to bleed on the street for about two hours before a female neighbor dragged him to safety, al-Hadithi told the AP.Meanwhile, the wife of a marine admitted that the unit involved in Haditha was out of control.
Fahmi's family was not able to take him to a hospital until two days later, al-Hadithi said.
Although the shooting stopped, the security sweep, he said, lasted until about 4:30 p.m. and the Marines did not leave the town.
Al-Hadithi said the Marines imposed a three-day closure on Haditha. They allowed relatives to go to the hospital the day after the killings to collect the bodies and bury them following negotiations with the Americans by the head of the local council, Imad Jawad Hamza. Only close relatives took part in the funeral, said al-Hadithi.* * *Al-Hadithi's account is generally consistent with the sequence of events given to the AP last week by a lawyer for relatives of victims.* * *
Both men watched from windows at their homes. Al-Hadithi said he had a clear view of two of the houses where killings allegedly took place. Khaled Salem Rsayef, the lawyer, said he could see the site of the roadside bomb as well as the first house stormed by the Marines.
Rsayef has said he learned from conversations with relatives that the shooting was carried out by three or four Marines while about 20 more waited outside. Al-Hadithi said it was difficult to ascertain the number of those involved.
However, he pointed out that since the shootings were not simultaneous, it's possible they were the work of one group of Marines.
The wife of the unnamed staff sergeant claimed there had been a "total breakdown" in the unit's discipline after it was pulled out of Falluja in early 2005.Look out for an insanity plea.
"There were problems in Kilo company with drugs, alcohol, hazing [violent initiation games], you name it," she said. "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha."
Unfortunately, it appears more than likely that eyewitness accounts of Haditha are accurate despite initial denials.
The Newsweek account described a gung-ho battalion that had staged a chariot race, complete with captured horses, togas and heavy metal music, before the battle for Falluja in late 2004.
The marines were given loose rules of engagement in the vicious urban warfare that followed.
"If you see someone with a cellphone," said one of the commanders was quoted as saying, half-jokingly, "put a bullet in their fucking head".
About a month after the killings, al-Hadithi said, a Marine major refused a request by the victims' families to offer a formal apology, arguing that the Iraqis were killed in the roadside bombing or caught in crossfire between the Marines and insurgents.I am sure she is not alone. Americans MUST do something to stop this madness or we will soon find ourselves in the eye of a very nasty storm of revenge.
The officer, whose name al-Hadithi said he could not remember, also warned them that the next time a roadside bomb hits a Marine convoy in Haditha he would order an airstrike to level anything within 500 yards.* * *
Al-Mashhadani, Hammurabi's chairman, who lectures on economics at Baghdad's al-Mustansiriyah University, said the organization was publicizing the Haditha incident to make sure it's not repeated.
"At the same time, we want the victims' families to receive a fair compensation," he said.
Iman Walid Abdul-Hameed, a young girl who said she was in the house when the Haditha shootings occurred, said her brother and several other relatives had been killed and she demanded revenge. "We want the Americans to be hurt just like us," she told the cameraman.