Fintan Dunne: Fallujah's 9/11 - US Used WMDs

Published: Wed 1 Dec 2004 09:49 AM
Fallujah's 9/11: U.S. Used Weapons Of Mass Destruction
The relevant US commanders should be immediately detained and interrogated --so we can determine on whose orders they acted, that others may also face justice.,
29th November, 2004
by Fintan Dunne, Editor
Research Kathy McMahon
November 9th, 2004 was Fallujah's 9/11 Tuesday. It marked the peak of three days of indiscriminate bombing of Fallujah by US forces.
Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Al-Shaalan promised that the day would be decisive. It wasn't. It was inhumane beyond belief, almost beyond comprehension.
The bomb blitz featured weapons of mass destruction: banned napalm-type munitions, chemical poison gas and super-bombs of up to 2,000-pounds. The ground assault was indiscriminate. The target was a city where at least 60,000 civilians outnumbered rebel fighters by over thirty to one.
The attack on Fallujah was the worst single terrorism atrocity since 2,752 people died in New York on Tuesday, 9/11/2001. Around two hundred were killed in the 3/11 Madrid train bombings and a similar number in the Bali blast. But, the Iraqi Red Crescent fear that up to 6,000 may have been killed so far, in the terror which is being visited on Fallujah.
If the emerging reports prove true, the US military commanders and their political superiors, who ordered the atrocities must be tried for war crimes.
The evidence of those crimes is accumulating, as accounts by aid workers' from inside Fallujah manage to bypass reporting restrictions.
At least three independent reports indicate that the US forces used chemical poison gas in Fallujah. Within days of the start of the assault was reporting:
“The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally-banned chemical weapons,” resistance sources told Al-Quds Press Wednesday, November 10. The fatal weapons led to the deaths of tens of innocent civilians, whose bodies litter sidewalks and streets, they added.
“The US troops have sprayed chemical and nerve gases on resistance fighters, turning them hysteric in a heartbreaking scene,” an Iraqi doctor, who requested anonymity, told Al-Quds Press.
“Some Fallujah residents have been further burnt beyond treatment by poisonous gases,” added resistance fighters, who took part in Golan battles, northwest of Fallujah.
US Troops Reportedly Gassing Fallujah, Islam Online
Respected, independent journalist Dahr Jamail (IPS) files reports for The Nation, BBC, Democracy Now!, and other stations. On November 26, 2004 he reported:
The US military has used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against civilians in Fallujah, eyewitnesses report.
”Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah,” 35-year-old trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad told IPS. ”They used everything -- tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground.” Hammad is from the Julan district of Fallujah where some of the heaviest fighting occurred.
'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah, IPS Also
Activist journalist Ewa Jasiewicz recently had 'disruption' charges laid against her for protesting at an Iraq privatization conference last April. She had just returned from 9 months solidarity work with refugees and women’s groups in Iraq. On Saturday November 27th, 2004 she reported:
Residents of the Hay Julan area who were able to flee Fallujah described an apple smelling chemical with which they were exposed to before the main onslaught into Fallujah. There was a break of about half a day between the presence of the gas/chemical and when the main assault started.
The chemical created open wounds on the skin which were very hard to treat. After a while all exposed areas on the skin were cracked and bleeding. People came out of Fallujah with these injuries. They described smoke, a sweet smell and when they were exposed to the smoke, they coughed up blood and had cracked bleeding skin.
Most of these families were hiding. When they smelled the gas they thought this was a gas attack and fled their homes and made their way through small backroads unoccupied by Occupation Forces. This happened at the beginning of the attack on Fallujah – around 2 weeks ago.
Breaking News from Fallujah Also
An immediate investigation by a suitable international body under the auspices of the United Nations should seek testimony from military and civilian witnesses. Forensic examination of the victims and the scene is likely to produce concrete evidence, if not delayed.
The US military is refusing permission for relatives to return to Fallujah to collect the dead. There are valid military reasons, as with around half of the city in US control and active engagement with rebels ongoing, the area is still a battle zone.
But, a worry is that an army and political leadership guilty of war crimes is even now destroying such evidence as would establish their guilt.
Abdul Razaq Ismail who escaped from Fallujah two weeks back said... ”The Americans were dropping [dead] bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah.”
'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah, IPS Also
A US command prepared to use chemical weapons is unlikely to balk at the use of the banned incendiary weapon of napalm. Indeed, in August last year, the US admitted dropping napalm bombs during the three-week invasion of Iraq, despite earlier denials by the Pentagon.
Reports of the attack on Fallujah indicate that weapons indistinguishable from napalm in their effect were used again. Dahr Jamail reports again:
”They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud,” Abu Sabah, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan area told IPS. ”Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.”
He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns. Phosphorous weapons as well as napalm are known to cause such effects.
”People suffered so much from these,” he said.
'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah, IPS Also
Other mainstream media reports confirm this account and elaborate on the mindset of local US commanders:
"Usually we keep the gloves on," said the head of the US 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off."
'Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin.'
Washington Post, 10 Nov., p. A01
'White phosphorus shells lit up the sky as armour... sent flaming material on to suspect insurgent haunts.'
Telegraph, 9 Nov., p. 1
That mindset also governed the military tactics used in support of ground forces advancing into Fallujah after the first intensive wave of bombing:
"'The American military has been using novel and devastating methods to clear Fallujahs' streets.' Including the rocket-fired 350-foot-long string of plastic explosives known as Miclic, which can clear a lane through a minefield 8 meters wide and 100 meters long. 'The Miclic.... is highly effective but also indiscriminate, and not normally considered suitable for an urban environment.'
Times, 10 Nov., p. 9
'White phosphorus shells lit up the sky as armour... sent flaming material on to suspect insurgent haunts.'
Telegraph, 9 Nov., p. 1
The rules of engagement for the US troops were such that civilian deaths were inevitable:
The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon. When marines asked a gunnery sergeant for clarification, he told his men if they saw any military-aged males on the street "Drop 'em."
Falluja troops told to shoot on sight, Al-Jazeerah
In the end, not just males of fighting age, but women, children and the aged were all grist to the mill of US forces encouraged to effectively regard all persons in Fallujah as enemy combatants:
'Anyone still in the city will be regarded as a potential insurgent.'
Observer, 7 Nov., p. 18
Kassem Mohammed Ahmed who escaped from Fallujah a little over a week ago told IPS he witnessed many atrocities committed by US soldiers in the city. ”I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks,” he said. ”This happened so many times.”
Abu Hammad said he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. ”The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore,” he said. ”Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot..”
Hammad said he had seen elderly women carrying white flags shot by US soldiers. ”Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed.”
Another Fallujah resident Khalil (40) told IPS he saw civilians shot as they held up makeshift white flags. ”They shot women and old men in the streets,” he said. ”Then they shot anyone who tried to get their bodies..."
'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah, IPS Also
However, the street fighting tactics ordered for US GI's played the lesser role in the toll of fatalities. The tactical and bombing decisions by military commanders were the key to the majority of the deaths.
But these reports of callous regard for civilians indicate that the recent furor over the slaying of an injured Fallujah rebel, was a "limited hangout" diversion seized on by a propagandist media keen to avoid more much more grisly tales of an army turned barbarians.
The unmistakable impression from all these reports is that the massacre in Fallujah was no mere technical breach of international law governing combat. These are not "isolated incidents". They are incidents which betray a coherent policy.
There has been a clear military/political policy to comprehensively and calculatedly flout the protections mandated for civilians caught in conflict. It was an attack designed to strike terror more than to win ground. It was, in short terrorism.
The weapons used were illegal and immoral. Their deployment was indiscriminate. The tactics were indiscriminate.
The relevant US commanders should be immediately detained and interrogated so we can determine on whose orders they acted, that others may also face justice.
We could, of course dispense with the Geneva Convention to guide their treatment. Just as US forces did. We could use torture as a means of getting vital information. Just as US forces did.
After all, we are up against dangerous terrorists who target civilians, and our objective is to help safeguard further loss of life.
But, despite the allure of such actions, we should adhere to the rules of civilized behavior. We should not descend to the level of murderous, criminal thugs.
Either way, the military and any superiors implicated in these war crimes --no matter how high up the chain of command-- could get the death penalty.
After all, that's the way they do things in Texas.
But again, we must resist the urge to take human life needlessly, else we plunge into the moral mire in which these terrorists have already sunk.
The date on which unknown terrorist commanders allegedly orchestrated the attacks on New York and Washington, September 11th --is written in the US as 9/11.
"Allegedly" --because the U.S. Government never produced the dossier of evidence they claimed at the time would prove their case. And no substantial criminal convictions as yet support that claim.
The date on which as yet unidentified terrorist U.S. commanders attacked Fallujah on November 9th --is written outside the U.S., also as 9/11.
Many believe that same people were behind both of these now infamous atrocities. They maintain the 9/11 attacks were an "inside job".
One argument of those unconvinced by such "conspiracy theories," is that no US political/military cabal would be capable of such callous inhumanity. That argument no longer holds. Fallujah's 9/11 ends such illusions.
But that's a terrorism story for another day.
- Fintan Dunne, 29 Nov '04

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