Hearts and Minds

From Holden:

You know, the Iraqi people REALLY don’t want our troops in their country. And who can blame them.

An angry Iraqi crowd carried coffins through a Baghdad district on Thursday and threw rocks at American soldiers, accusing U.S. troops of killing three innocent middle-aged brothers, one of them in a wheelchair.

The U.S. military said they had killed three “terrorists”.

“They call everybody terrorists but they just commit terrorist acts whenever they want,” said Mohsen Thabit, a friend of the men whom neighbours found shot in the head at home after a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the Amiriya district overnight.

The bodies of Khalil, Khalid and Jamal Hussein, filmed by a neighbour, lay sprawled in their home, that of the crippled Khalil lying in the bathroom next to his wheelchair.

U.S. spokesman Major Tim Keefe confirmed U.S.-led and Iraqi forces raided a house the neighbourhood around midnight.

“The purpose of the raid was to capture and detain a kidnapping cell. A firefight ensued, and three terrorists were killed and one wounded. Weapons and explosive materials were captured,” he said by e-mail in reply to a question.


Whatever the reasons behind the incident, however, neighbours and relatives were quick to accuse Americans and the new Iraqi forces they are training of carrying out an unprovoked killing, a common complaint in a violent city and one that has fuelled resentment in many quarters towards occupying forces.

The reaction underlines how far U.S. and, now, Iraqi troops are struggling to gain public trust after two years of war.

The dead men’s sister-in-law said she saw U.S. and Iraqi troops raid the house and shoot her husband’s brothers.

“They shot one of my brothers-in-law in the bathroom and then they shot the other two. I was hit in the arm and foot,” Noor Ali Jassim told Reuters from a hospital bed.


Among accusations of civilians being killed in raids, Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations alleged last month that U.S. Marines shot dead his unarmed cousin in cold blood at his home.

More than 20 labourers were treated in hospital in Baghdad this week after a U.S. helicopter opend fire as they slept on a rooftop at dawn. The military said its aircraft returned fire against “terrorists” but added there were civilian casualties.


“They will never be let back into Amiriya,” screamed a hysterical man, referring to U.S. forces. Mourners threw stones at U.S. patrol vehicles as they drove past the procession.