Americans Mutilated And Dragged Through Fallujah Streets
By James Conachy
01 April 2004
World Socialist Website
ugly scenes captured by television cameras, crowds of Iraqi men hacked
apart and lynched the bodies of four Americans killed yesterday in the
restive city of Fallujah.
According to witnesses
interviewed by Associated Press (AP), a convoy of three unmarked civilian
SUVs was ambushed as it travelled along a Fallujah street. Iraqi resistance
fighters threw hand grenades into two of the vehicles and raked them
with machine gun fire, setting them ablaze and killing the four men
inside. The occupants of the third vehicle sped off and escaped. The
US military has reported only two vehicles were involved.
gathered around the burning vehicles, cheering, dancing and hurling
bricks at the corpses inside. One body was pulled from the wreckage
and dismembered with shovels. Bodies and body parts were filmed hanging
from a telephone pole and a bridge over the Euphrates River, and being
dragged through Fallujah behind donkey carts.
Throughout the incident,
men in the crowd chanted Viva the mujahadeen, Down
with the occupation, Long live the resistance and
Down with America. According to AP reporters, a nearby group
of Iraqi police did not intervene. No effort to recover the bodies was
made by either the US military or other Iraqi security forces for at
least 30 minutes.
have been made with the 1993 incident in Somalia, when the bodies of
dead Army rangers were paraded through the streets of Mogadishu by triumphant
Somalis opposed to the US military presence in their country.
The US government
and military have stated that the four Americans were contractors working
for the private security firm, Blackwater Security, and employed to
protect food deliveries in the Fallujah area. No explanation has been
given as to why they were so far inside the city. AP cameras filmed
a US Department of Defence identification card among the wreckage, giving
rise to suspicions that the men may have been American intelligence
the passions of the crowd reflect the hostility toward the US invasion
and ongoing occupation of Iraq. In the last week, the American military
has intensified the repression of the 500,000 residents of Fallujah.
On March 24, the California-based First Marine Division took over control
of the area, which has been one of the centres of opposition and armed
resistance to the US. The newly arrived troops have been attempting
to assert their control using brutal tactics.
Last Friday morning,
hundreds of marines with tanks and armoured vehicles deployed into the
city in forcethe first time American troops have done so for months.
Exchanges of mortar and gunfire flared throughout the day, especially
in the working class suburb of al-Askari where the marines fought battles
with local resistance fighters. Most of the 15 Iraqis killed and many
of the wounded were non-combatants gunned down by the Americans.
A farmer, Jamal
Mahesem, told the Washington Post he was shot in the leg while he was
walking down a road. I didnt even see the American soldiers,
he said. I dont know why they started shooting. I didnt
hear anyone shooting at them.
man, Ahmed Yusuf, who claimed he was shot as he turned his car into
a side street, told the Post: They think that theyre going
to control the city by doing this? Theyre wrong. They will never
be able to control the city like this. They will turn the situation
here to a war situation. The man in the car behind him was shot
in the head.
Among those killed
by American bullets was Mohammed Mazhour, a freelance cameraman working
for US ABC News. Hospitals reported treating at least 25 wounded, including
offensive continued over the following days. The major roads in and
out of Fallujah were blockaded by US tanks and troops until Tuesday,
with hundreds of people being subjected to vehicle searches. On Monday
and Tuesday, marines carried out house-to-house searches for insurgents
in three suburbs, including al-Askari. An unknown number of men were
detained. A local, Khaled Jamaili, told AP: If they find more
than one adult male in any house, they arrest one of them. Those marines
are destroying us. They are leaning very hard on Fallujah.
As they rampaged
through the city, the marines tossed Arabic leaflets into the streets
that provocatively read: You cant escape and you cant
The offensive has
inflamed what was already a population fiercely opposed to the US occupation.
Fallujah was a centre of support for the former Baathist regime and
fighting has not stopped since the US-led invasion. As a result, the
city has suffered considerably at the hands of the USA military. Resistance
fighters, however, have killed and wounded dozens of Americans.
Last November, in
an attempt to reduce casualties, the US military withdrew to the outskirts
of Fallujah and ostensibly left security in the hands of the local forces
it had recruited. The city immediately came under the sway of the insurgency.
This was demonstrated on February 14 when up to 75 heavily armed men
stormed the police station to free a group of captured guerillas. Dozens
of the US-trained police were killed or wounded.
incident has set the stage for a further escalation of violence and
greater US reprisals against the civilian population. Within hours of
the contractors deaths, marines moved back into the city centre.
American general Mark Klimmit told a press conference: The Marines,
like their predecessors, will continue to maintain control. There often
are small outbursts of violence. As weve seen today, they will
go in, they will restore order, and theyll put those people back
in their place.
In the face of a
constant cycle of death and mayhem, the political and military spokesmen
for the Bush administration continue to assert that only a minority
of Iraqis oppose the US presence and that the security situation is
improving. The hatred and anger shown yesterday on the streets of Fallujah,
however, is not confined to a few hundred men in one city. To one degree
or another, it is shared by the vast majority of Iraqis.
Eleven months after
George Bush declared combat in Iraq over, the US military is still confronted
with a hostile population and an ongoing guerilla war across the country.
American combat casualties in March increased to 35 dead and 291 wounded,
up from 16 combat deaths and 147 wounded in February. Five of the military
deaths took place yesterday just outside Fallujah, when a convoy was
hit by a massive roadside bomb.
The increased casualties
are partly due to stepped-up US operations against the resistance ahead
of the scheduled June 30 transfer of power to an Iraqi puppet government.
Far from bringing greater stability, however, the military offensive
has only fueled opposition and the determination among Iraqis to resist
the US plans.
It is likely that
sections of the American establishment will attempt to exploit the four
contractors deaths to argue for greater numbers of American and
foreign troops to be sent to Iraq in order to guarantee security.
Against such calls, the demand must be raised for the immediate and
unconditional withdrawal of US and all foreign troops from the country.
That is the only progressive resolution to the tragedy engulfing both
the Iraqi people and those enforcing the occupation.