More Details about the Army Rape and Massacre
Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 3, 2006; A15
BAGHDAD, July 2 -- Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.
As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.
Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.
Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.
Janabi said he agreed.
Then, "I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear," Janabi said. "I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing."
Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter.
Instead, attackers came to the girl's house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister.
Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate.
Before leaving, the attackers fatally shot the four family members -- two of Abeer's brothers had been away at school -- and attempted to set Abeer's body on fire, according to Janabi, another neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mayor of Mahmudiyah and a hospital administrator with knowledge of the case.
The U.S. military said last week that authorities were investigating allegations of a rape and killings in Mahmudiyah by soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division.
The mayor of Mahmudiyah, Mouyad Fadhil Saif, said Sunday that the case was being investigated by the U.S. military as an alleged atrocity.
Janabi was one of the first people to arrive at the house after the attack, he said Saturday, speaking to a Washington Post special correspondent at the home of local tribal leaders. He said he found Abeer sprawled dead in a corner, her hair and a pillow next to her consumed by fire, and her dress pushed up to her neck.
"I was sure from the first glance that she had been raped," he said.
Despite the reassurances he had given the girl's mother earlier, Janabi said, "I wasn't surprised what had happened, when I found that the suspicion of the mother was correct."
The U.S. military has not identified the victims. U.S. military officials contacted this weekend said they did not know the names of the people involved or most other details of the case, although one military official confirmed that according to preliminary information gathered by investigators, the family lived near a U.S. checkpoint and the killings happened about March 12.
The military official pointed to one discrepancy in the accounts, however. Preliminary information in the military investigation put the age of the alleged rape victim at 20, rather than 15, as reported by her neighbors, officials and hospital records and officials in Mahmudiyah.
U.S. soldiers at the scene initially ascribed the killings to Sunni Arab insurgents active in the area, the U.S. military and local residents said. That puzzled villagers, who knew that the family was Sunni, Janabi said. Other residents assumed the killings were sectarian, with Shiite Muslim militiamen as the likely culprit.
But on June 23, three months after the incident, two soldiers of the 502nd came forward to say that soldiers of the unit were responsible, a U.S. military official said last week. The U.S. military began an investigation the next day, the official said.
Officials said last week that none of the four soldiers under investigation had been detained, although one had been discharged for unrelated reasons.
Family members have given permission for exhumation of Abeer's body, Janabi and the mayor said.
The case is at least the fourth American military investigation announced since March of alleged atrocities by U.S. forces in Iraq.
The rape allegation makes the Mahmudiyah case potentially incendiary in Iraq. Rape is seen as a crime smearing the honor of the family as well as the victim in conservative communities here.
Death certificates viewed Sunday at the Mahmudiyah hospital identified the victims as Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 34, killed by gunshots to her head; Qasim Hamza Raheem, 45, whose head was "smashed" by bullets; Hadeel Qasim Hamza, 7, Abeer's sister, shot; and Abeer, shot in the head. Abeer's body also showed burns, the death certificate noted.
Janabi said U.S. soldiers controlled the scene of the killings for several hours on March 11, telling neighbors that insurgents were responsible. The bodies of the victims were taken to Mahmudiyah hospital by March 12, according to Janabi and an official at the hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
On March 13, a man identifying himself as a relative claimed the bodies for burial, the hospital official said. An hour after the man left with the bodies, U.S. soldiers came to the hospital and asked about the bodies, the hospital official said.
The next day, the hospital official said, soldiers scoured the area, trying to find the funeral for the family.
"But they did not find it, simply because the relatives did not do it, because the death includes the rape of one of the family members, which is something shameful in our tradition," the hospital official said.
"The family kept the news a secret, fearing the disgrace," he said. "They thought it was done by militias, not U.S. forces."
Reached by telephone Saturday at his home in Iskandariyah, south of Mahmudiyah, a member of the extended family would not discuss the incident.
"What is the benefit of publishing this story?" said Abeer's uncle, Bassem. "People will read about this crime. And they will forget about it the next day."
Two special correspondents in Mahmudiyah and special correspondent Bassam Sebti in Baghdad contributed to this report.
Mikey...I think this article is better as to fairness. That's why some here accuse you of not caring...So you would believe Sunni's before Americans? In any case, it appears something happened that puts these men in a bad situation...if they did it...they deserve punishment. In any case, because it's our soldiers, I would have at least posted this story.
Well Mikey I would say alleged rape and massacre. These men are innocent until PROVEN guilty. If they commited a crime they should be punished. However, we know from Zarqwai's own memo's that this is a tactic, that the enemy was using (committing atrocities and blaming the coalation troops).
Looking at the acts they have bragged about this is not a stretch. I find it interesting that since the media made a big deal about Haditha there have been a spate of charges against American troops. BTW there was a similar charge against British troops that has been refuted.
Mikey do you beieve these charges or are giving the troops the benefit of the doubt?
If I were an Iraqi teenager I would hate the United States.
I wouldn't care that Saddam was removed from power.
Imagine the same scenario happening in our country:
- You live under a despotic President.
- A foreign power eliminates your government and occupies your country.
- All of your national treasures and museums are looted.
- Allegations of these military occupants killing innocent civilians
- Allegations of these military occupants raping women and killing children.
Any normal, self-respecting, country-loving person would eventually come to hate their 'liberators'.
This entire war is going to create huge problems for us in the future. We are causing an entire generation of young people to grow up and hate us.
Yeah, I would hate the people that brought water and electricity to my village when I have been deprived of it my entire life because I was a different sect of a religion.
I would hate the people that built a school and a place of worship for me.
I would hate the people that are creating jobs and infrastructure and a elected government OF the people.
But what I really hate is the people that report all the bad, and blow off all the good.
I hate the people that stick up for the worthless piles of **** that blow themselves up in crowded markets. Those are people that are worthy of hate.
We are hated by the Japanese, Germans, French, Filipinos, Koreans, and Kuwaitis?
There goes that theory.
You can bet that even if Bush was found torturing American citizens, that we were all in poverty, and another country invaded us and occupied us, that all of the American militias and people with guns would be fighting the soldiers who came.
Iraq was going to happen regardless of who the President was. Bush made a huge mistake in his timing and in not getting a unilateral force to go. In time we could have had an international force and Bush wouldn't have come out of this looking so stupid.
This is a political discussion forum. So, why has this "story' been posted twice by the same poster?
If it did happen, these soldiers commited a crime and that has nothing to do with politics. They should be given a trail and if convicted given a severe punishment. BUT, this is not a crime forum.
The fact that Mikey needed to start 2 threads about this speaks volumes of what a pig he is. Any time a solider is killed, any time a crime is alledged againts our military, you can bet Mikey will start a thread.
So, why on a political discussion forum? Because any story involving the death or alledged crime againts our military is good news for Mikey's political agenda,he thinks. That is obvious and transparent and makes Mikey the scum that he is.
I don't think that Miley cares that our military consists of Rep's, Dem's, Ind's, and "i don't care", political parties. That they are just trying to do their jobs and make it home. Like all soldiers since the beginning of time.
The difficulty here is that:
1) Yes, we are putting a massive effort into rebuilding Iraq, but
2) We destroyed a functioning -- if dictatorial -- nation in the first place.
I am not singing the praises of pre-Invasion Iraq, I am just being real here. The odds that the US is considered a liberator in Iraq will increase proportionate to the increase in quality of life of the average Iraqi.
This also does not assume that the U.S. is responsible for the destruction loosed in the current civil war; that argument is not necessary to determine whether the average Iraqi is likely to view us as a liberator, because the deeds of one party can so easily be shifted to the ledger sheet of another, in the mind of an occupied party. This is not an argument about justice, or about whether the "hearts and minds" in Iraq are unduly swayed against a "truly" benign American presence. It is just a question of what the average Iraqi feels about the American presence. I'm not sure we're viewed as liberators by the majority.
Back for more after dinner,
PFnV, you are a wise, wise person. Not just this response, but your posts in general.
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