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November 8, 2004

Carnage and Martial Law


by Dahr Jamail

"The Marines that have been killed over the last five months have been killed by a faceless enemy. The enemy there has a face, and it's called Satan, and it lives in Fallujah."

These are the words of U.S. Marine Colonel Gary Brandl as he speaks of the imminent attack on Fallujah. Who says this isn't a holy war?

This is a longer article, but stay with it I am giving quick run down of the major events of each of the past three days here; some of this I imagine most folks in the U.S. don't know about if they don't read past the headlines. I'll end this with real time events.

At the closest U.S. base to Fallujah, the combat hospital has set up a morgue and doubled the medical staff in anticipation of large numbers of U.S. military casualties. This augments the fact that doctors there report that casualties have already been averaging 20 per day. Just on Friday a soldier was killed and several wounded at a base near the city.

Also on Friday, a gas pipeline near Kirkuk was blown up, cutting electricity to homes and businesses. In Baquba, attacks from resistance fighters claimed the lives of two civilians when a mortar landed on their house near a police station.

On Saturday, four car bombs killed 40 people, 10 of whom were Iraqi police, and wounded at least 62 in the city of Samarra, which was supposedly taken under U.S. control at the beginning of October.

An Iraqi health official said that 23 people, including nine policemen, were killed and 40 wounded in the first of three bomb explosions against Iraqi police.

The second car bomb detonated while rescue workers were assisting victims of the first blast. A third bomb struck a U.S. patrol while it was attempting to reach the scene of the first two blasts, but there has been no word yet on U.S. casualties.

The fourth blast occurred at 12:30 p.m. local time when a suicide bomber rammed his car into a police station in the city 60 miles north of Baghdad, which, according to Iraqi police, killed several policemen and wounded five others.

Witnesses claimed that U.S. troops opened fire sporadically in the city center after they were attacked, injuring civilians and destroying cars.

Resistance fighters in Samarra also handed out leaflets pledging solidarity with their brothers in Fallujah.

The U.S. and British governments, along with the U.S.-installed Iraqi interim government, have rejected an appeal made by Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the UN, who warned that attacking Fallujah would jeopardize the elections slated for January in Iraq.

Ignoring his warning, U.S. warplanes, AC-130 gunships and artillery continued to pound Fallujah Saturday.

One of the targets that was razed to the ground was Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the city center. Having been at a clinic in Fallujah during the April siege, I can tell you that the targeting by the U.S. military is anything but precise there.

Over in Ramadi, 20 U.S. soldiers were injured in an attack on their convoy.

Also in Ramadi, a suicide car bomb detonated outside a U.S. military base in the al-Fujariyah district near the entrance of the city. The lifeless bodies of Iraqis caught in the attack were scattered about on the road outside the base.

Here in Baghdad on the airport road, a car bomber killed an Iraqi civilian and wounded three U.S. soldiers while attempting to kill members of the U.S. military.

Before I get to the carnage of today, let me interject something.

The Japanese man who was beheaded a couple of weeks ago, whose body was found wrapped in an American flag turns out that while he was portrayed as a "backpacker" in the mainstream media, he was actually a freelance videographer. I spoke with a friend in Jordan who stayed at the same hotel in Baghdad as the Japanese man did just before he was abducted and killed.

Gunfire is a daily reality here in Baghdad, as sporadic fighting simmers around the capital. From Friday night to today, the sound of U.S. fighter jets roaring over the capital en route to Fallujah is ever present. Last night there were several huge explosions not far from my hotel, followed of course by the usual sporadic gunfire.

Which brings us to today.

Fifty people today have already been killed in Iraq. My friend Salam says to me while we are watching the news, "What is keeping us from being one of them? Our day is coming dude."

Out in Haditha, 200 resistance fighters using RPGs and mortars stormed a police station, killing 23 IPs execution style they took them out of station and shot them after they tied their hands behind their backs. There were three simultaneous attacks on police stations there and Haqlaniyah.

A suicide car bomber has killed three Americans on the deadly airport road, which is also referred to as "RPG alley."

Folks in Baghdad are talking of how people are still entering Fallujah through various ways the sealing by the Americans is once again flawed.

Of course, there are the usual pounding explosions of bombs throughout the day, and loads of Apaches flying low overhead about the city.

Keep in mind, all of the aforementioned has occurred, and the U.S. military hasn't even entered Fallujah yet. And there are hundreds of other smaller events that none of us will ever hear about going on here every single day.

Here's some more news for you. Amid all of the bloodshed, the Iraqi government announced martial law for all of Iraq (excluding Kurdistan) for two months. I see that this is already being reported as a "State of Emergency." It's martial law.

Abu Talat called because he was supposed to meet me tonight, but he can't get out of al-Adhamiya because it has been sealed by the military and Humvees are in the main square and roaming the streets.

"I cannot reach you tonight Dahr, we are under martial law," he says on the phone, "Like that means anything the invaders have always done whatever they wish to us. But now we are all trapped. This is the justice here."

My friend Salam, while visiting me today, says of the martial law, "So, now any policeman can shoot me anytime he wants. This happened before, but now it is even more legal. But this won't give the government any power. They were already powerless. Let them put on any law they want, it doesn't matter."

I ask him how he can live like this. He says, "The hard part is living like this everyday. You don't go near the windows, don't do what you want, don't go anywhere unless you have good reason, be careful driving, watch the roads, it's very tense all the time now. And there is no hope of it getting better. I want to get married, but I think I better wait. But wait for what?"

He continues.

"My mom tells me to save money for the future, and I keep telling her that I'm a dead man. I'm going to die here, so what's the use? I try to get her ready for it but she can't get used to the thought."

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    Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Dahr Jamail writes about the effects of the US occupation on the people of Iraq, since the mainstream media in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.

    Dahr has spent a total of 5 months in occupied Iraq, and plans on returning in October to continue reporting on the occupation. One of only a few independent reporters in Iraq, Dahr will be using the DahrJamailIraq.com website and mailing list to disseminate his dispatches and will continue as special correspondent for Flashpoints Radio.

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