Saturday, July 08, 2006

What in God's name have we done?

My June 19 post entitled SBU -- Sensitive but Unclassified pointed to a report in the WaPo of an official memorandum from our embassy in Baghdad describing how dangerous it is for Iraqis to work with Americans. The PDF document had example after example of how Iraqis known to be cooperating with the IDF (otherwise known as the Occupation) do so at their peril.

This morning, thanks to Salim Adil, I read a blog illustrating this danger. What I read has haunted me all day. I am going to copy it here in case it should disappear. The blogger who wrote it has somehow lost his original site to cyber-squatters, so this one important post needs to have a backup lest we forget. Ironically this was the July 4 post at Truth About Iraqis. Written on Independence Day. Symbolic? Coincidental? I dunno. You decide.

Aziz (not really name) was in his late twenties. He was going to a market in Mosul with his brothers to buy gasoline earlier this week when another car ran them off the road.

Armed men stepped out of the car and apprehended Aziz and his brothers. They searched the car, searched the men and asked for IDs.

After checking the names, the armed men singled Aziz out. They separated him from his brothers. They told him they had orders to execute him.

Aziz pleaded with the men. His brothers pleaded. It was no use.

Aziz crumbled to the floor, lifeless, a bullet to the head. A flash of gunfire and his life was snuffed out. Gone. The father of two, husband, friend, brother ... gone.The armed men got in their car and sped off. Aziz's brothers lifted his lifeless body, put it in the backseat of their car and drove back home, in shock.

What to tell his young wife? Or his daughters?

Aziz was a beautiful looking man. He had fair skin, straight dirty blond hair, and sparkling blue eyes. He had a different air about him from his brothers. He was ... spunky, always ready, always on the go, rather enthusiastic.

When US forces first entered Mosul three years ago, Aziz worked with them as an interpreter until he received warnings and threats not to.

He immediately quit - after a period of no more than 9 days - and pronounced he would not work with any foreigners again. He was told to go to the mosques and disavow that line of work. He promptly did. That was around October 2003.

The threats ceased, he had nothing to fear, he was told. And the matter was closed.

It is not known exactly who killed him or why.

His brothers said his killers seemed professional, as if they had done this many times before - a hit squad. They were also arrogant and appeared to believe they were the law.

I received this information a few minutes ago.

Aziz was my relative. I had met his mother in Amman exactly one year ago. She had said he was planning on leaving Iraq for good.

He left life for good


I have since come across some more details. It was on Sunday, June 25, at around 9:30 am.

He had just recently received asylum status in Denmark and was preparing to leave for there in the coming weeks.

He was buried on Sunday afternoon and his family is still distraught.

I was informed all this by his brother's wife, both of whom live in Amman, Jordan.

My greatest concern is how his two young daughters will be taken care of.

The men who killed Aziz were masked, so identifying them is next to impossible. Furthermore, only one of them did the talking.

The family is now suspecting some Islamist faction, but they are not sure. It could have been Mukhabarat disguised as Islamists or even vice versa.

The remaining cousins and family I have in Iraq are now very fearful of their lives and are asking me to find some way to have them leave.

This requires a lot of resources but what can I do? I am leaving for Jordan and Syria in the next 24 hours to try and set up some kind of apartment or some thing in either country.

I assure you, my blog is not dead, just dormant and I will return to blogging very soon.

I am not surprised at all to see that many of those who frequently post comments on my blog could not even offer a single word of condolence. They pretend they care but in actuality, they do not.

Those who masquerade themselves from one blog to the next saying they care about humanity are the ones who are gloating right now.

Gloat all you want, like I always say, your real intentions for Iraq and my people are evident in your words and actions.

I promise to email any and all who email me and will keep everyone updated.

This is an example of targeted killing. Targeted killing is the new way to make war. Because collateral damage is minimized there is a clinical neatness to the process. It's hard to determine who had the idea first, this notion of targeted killing. But as a citizen I find the practice no less despicable when it is done in my name than when it is done by an enemy group.

This story is not just about Iraq. It is the story of how our presence is impacting that country. We can and must do better than this. Information such as that in the SBU Memo (PDF) must not be dismissed or overlooked. Correcting this problem is more important than eliminating those who hired a death squad to kill this man. We have to come up with something better than targeted counter-killing. I think simply acknowledging the problem is a necessary first step.


M. Simon said...

So no targeted killings. No bombs. No weapons above xx caliber. No shooting if you can't see the target. No killing of human shields. etc. etc. etc.

Interesting Rules of Engagement.

What kinds of war are you willing to fight? With what methods?

I got a better idea than targeted counter killing. Let us ask them pretty please to stop being so mean or we will hold our breath til we turn blue. That out to discourage them.

We really ought to be nicer to mass murderers and death squads. If we are really really nice to them maybe they will get the message and start being nicer. We could turn it into a game. Who can be nicer.

Or maybe Brotherhood of Man Classes are in order. Sort of like driving class when you get a ticket.

Hoots said...

I have no answer that will change your mind. As to what kind of war I am willing to fight the answer is none. My time in uniform was served as a conscientious objector in the medical service corps. The "rules of engagement" were not part of my job description. My mission was supportive, not aggressive.

It is not my aim to persuade you or anyone else to do as I have. I am well aware that there are warriors in all populations who need one another to balance nature just as there is an ecological balance between rodents and snakes. (That sounds worse than it should because I have nothing but the highest regard for good warriors, but I'm not sure how best to counter sarcasm without sounding somewhat prickly.)

I only know that there is something in my spirit that tells me that targeted killing is wrong, no matter who does it or why. There must be better ways to resolve conflict. If we don't look for them they may not be found. Otherwise, targeted killing is just another step in the direction of genocide or eugenics.