- Today, on Palestine Street near Mustanceria University
in Baghdad, a car packed with explosives was exploded as a US patrol passed.
I saw at least one Humvee flipped upside down and another sitting nearby,
completely incinerated; as soldiers, tanks, Bradleys, and Hummers had the
area completely sealed. Razor wire was strung across the street, keeping
the area clear.
- Meanwhile soldiers went building to building pulling
out all the men, and inside of their sealed perimeter stood a group of
at least 25-35 men, all most likely to be detained. I stood by the razor
wire watching them taking men with their hands tied with plastic ties out
of buildings. The young soldier near me saw an Iraqi man staring at him,
and yelled at him,
- "What the fuck are you looking at motherfucker!?"
- He points his gun at him.
- "Get the fuck out of here. You like what you see?
I said fuck off!"
- My translator asked the Iraqi to please just walk away,
as he stood glaring at the soldier.
- We are told soldiers went through the dorms of the nearby
university and pulled many young men out in order to detain them.
- Each scene I've visited like this has revealed a policy
that seems to be that the military will seal off the area for several blocks
around where a patrol has been hit, then go house to house, building to
building, and just pull men out for either questioning, or more likely,
- We were hoping to take pictures, and find out what happened.
But the usual policy of the military here of preventing photos of US military
hardware wreckage was in force. The first soldier we'd come upon said to
- "Sure you can take pictures. Then I'll take your
- Our translator said that some Iraqis nearby said they'd
watched soldiers take the camera from a man and smash it on the ground.
- We move to the other side of the street and another young
soldier is watching the crowds, very tense. He only speaks to us with one
sentence responses, but even more with one or two word responses. His eyes
constantly scan for threats.
- I speak with several soldiers, all of them very down.
An Iraqi man asks one of the troops if people were hurt, a rather silly
question. The response was,
- "Yes. What do you think? Many people are dead."
- As mentioned above, one Humvee has been flipped completely
upside down by the blast. At least three soldiers are dead, maybe more.
Certainly civilians are killed, as the entire front of a nearby building
is ripped off by the blast, pieces of plaster and ceiling dangling limply
in the air from the second floor of this usually crowded shopping area
near the college campus.
- We move to another area near the border of razor wire
to try to get a better view of the wreckage. We stand talking with the
soldiers. They are very down, not talking much, other than asking one of
- "You bang an Iraqi chick yet? Can you get good hash
here? Go to Europe, they got the really good shit there man."
- Another soldier pointed out the group of soldiers who
were sent to the scene first to clear the area and take detainees, and
said of his fellow troops,
- "Those are the war criminals."
- The mood is extremely tense, and needless to say, morose.
- One of the soldiers tells us they won't be letting any
journalists inside the perimeter until they clear the wreckage -- so we
decide to head back home.
- Back at the hotel I check the news and see that CNN has
reported on the strike on the patrol.
- On CNN, according to Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey on CNN,
commander of the US Army's 1st Armored Division speaking of this attack,
"An explosion near a U.S. military convoy in a crowded area of Baghdad
wounded five U.S. soldiers and three Iraqi civil defense personnel."
- The soldiers on the scene had gloomily told me, first
hand, quite a different story while we gazed at the two incinerated Humvees
in front of a nearby building with the side of it blasted into tatters.
- Dahr Jamail is a freelance journalist and political activist
from Anchorage, Alaska. He has come to Iraq to bear witness and write about
how the US occupation is affecting the people of Iraq, since the media
in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.