Print

Print


http://www.truthout.org/

US Troops Encouraged Ransacking
> 
> By Ole Rothenborg
> Dagens Nyheter
> 
> Thursday 11 April 2003
> 
> This is a translation of an article from April 11 from Dagens Nyheter, 
> Sweden's largest newspaper, based in Stockholm. The article was written by 
> Ole Rothenborg and translated by Joe Valasek. Khaled Bayomi, has taught and 
> researched on Middle Eastern conflicts for ten years at the University of 
> Lund where he is also working on his doctorate. He has given his permission 
> for this interview to be widely disseminated.
> 
> Khaled Bayomi looks surprised when the American officer on TV complains 
> that they don't have the resources to stop the plundering in Baghdad. "I 
> happened to be right there just as the American troops encouraged people to 
> begin the plundering."
> 
> Khaled Bayomi traveled from Europe to Baghdad to be a human shield and 
> arrived on the same day that the war began. About this he can tell many 
> stories but the most interesting is certainly his eyewitness account of the 
> wave of plundering.
> 
> "I had gone to see some friends who live near a dilapidated area just past 
> Haifa Avenue on the west bank of the Tigris. It was the 8th of April and 
> the fighting was so intense that I was unable to return to the other side 
> of the river. In the afternoon it became perfectly quiet and four American 
> tanks took places on the edge of the slum area. The soldiers shot two Suda
> nese guards who stood at their posts outside a local administration 
> building on the other side of Haifa Avenue. Then they blasted apart the 
> doors to the building and from the tanks came eager calls in Arabic 
> encouraging people to come close to them. "
> 
> "The entire morning, everyone who had tried to cross the road had been 
> shot. But in the strange silence after all the shooting, people gradually 
> became curious. After 45 minutes, the first Baghdad citizens dared to come 
> out. Arab interpreters in the tanks told the people to go and take what 
> they wanted in the building."
> 
> "The word spread quickly and the building was ransacked. I was standing 
> only 300 yards from there when the guards were murdered. Afterwards the 
> tank crushed the entrance to the Justice Department, which was in a 
> neighboring building, and the plundering continued there".
> 
> "I stood in a large crowd and watched this together with them. They did not 
> partake in the plundering but dared not to interfere. Many had tears of 
> shame in their eyes. The next morning the plundering spread to the Modern 
> Museum, which lies a quarter mile farther north. There were also two crowds 
> there, one that plundered and one with watched with disgust."
> 
> "Are you saying that it was US troops who initiated the plundering?'
> 
> "Absolutely. The lack of jubilant scenes meant that the American troops 
> needed pictures of Iraqis who in different ways demonstrated hatred for 
> Saddam's regime."
> 
> "The people pulled down a large statue of Saddam?"
> 
> "Did they? It was an American tank that did that, right beside the hotel 
> where all the journalists stay. Until lunchtime on April 9, I did not see 
> one destroyed Saddam portrait. If people had wanted to pull down statues 
> they could have taken down some of the small ones without any help from 
> American tanks. If it had been a political upheaval, the people would have 
> pulled down statues first and then plundered."
> 
> "Isn't it good that Saddam is gone?"
> 
> "He's not gone. He has broken his army down into very small groups. That's 
> why there hasn't been a large battle. About the official state, you could 
> say that Saddam dissolved that already in 1992 and he's built a parallel 
> tribal structure that is totally decisive in Iraq. When the US began the 
> war, Saddam abandoned the state completely and now depends on the tribal 
> structure. That was why he abandoned the large cities without a fight."
> 
> "Now the US is compelled to do everything themselves because there's no 
> political body within the country which will challenge the existing 
> structure. The two who came in from outside the country were annihilated at 
> once. (The reference here is to General Nazar al-Khazraji, who returned 
> from Denmark and the Shiite Muslim leader, Abdul Majid al-Khoei.) They were 
> cut to pieces with swords and knives by a furious crowd in Najaf because 
> they were thought to be American puppets. According to the Danish newspaper 
> BT, al-Khazraji was brought from Denmark to Iraq by the CIA."
> 
> "Now we have an occupying power in place in Iraq that has not said how long 
> it intends to remain, has not given any plan for civilian rule and no date 
> for general elections. Enormous chaos is now to be expected."
> 
> (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is 
> distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in 
> receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
> 
>   
 : t r u t h o u t 2003