Thursday, April 27, 2006

The mother

Updated with commets from Abbas Kadhim

Um Jaafar

(During a US raid Um Jaafar, a woman in her 40s, saw her three sons Jaafar, Haidar and Athir being killed before her eyes).

"At 2.30, the night of 21 January, I woke up to a blast that opened the door of our house in the Al-Huriya Al-Thaniya area, west of Baghdad. A group of American soldiers stormed in.

With them was an Iraqi translator, through whom they asked me about Mohamed. I pointed to my son Jaafar, whom we call Mohamed at home. Without a single comment, they moved to where Jaafar was sleeping and shot him dead. Athir, Jaafar's 28-year-old half-brother, tried to question the translator about the reason. The response was, 'the matter has come to an end.' And when he tried to go upstairs to seek the help of their elder brother Haidar, 29, an American bullet beat him to it, killing him immediately. Haidar's wife tried to defend her husband and their children, Mustafa and Ali, but one of the Americans beat her back -- on the head, with a baton -- to make way for the bullet that was to kill Haidar. The whole process took no more than a few minutes. In the end my daughter Shaimaa lay among the three corpses, injured and bleeding.

Only later did the translator ask me to fetch the identity cards of those killed -- only to realise that there was no Mohamed among them. He said simply, 'sorry, but we have killed them on a suspicion.' And the raiding force left. What happened had not sunk in when they came back, and to this day I still can not believe it; I have not visited the graves of my sons. I lost three sons like that; who would believe me? I do not believe it myself. Trying to comfort me, neighbours and relatives point out that at least I got to bury my dead; there are mothers, they say, who do not even have access to their sons' corpses once they are told they were killed. But I am a mother and my disaster feels the greatest.

Tell me, what should I do when I miss Jaafar and his brothers? I miss them. For how long will we keep losing our sons by mistake? Just tell me what to do. Can you help me not miss them?"


H/T A Family in Baghdad

This is such a strange story I just had to post it, I don't know how true it is, but it does give you an idea of what the Arabs in Europe are reading, and I'm just sure it's getting picked up and reported thought out that Arabic speaking world.
I am going to try to get Abbas to comment on the author of this story, but I make no promises.


Well as promised I asked Abbas Kadhim to comment as he writes for this paper and might give us some insight to this disturbing incident. Abbas was kind enough to offer the following:

Hi Tom,

I don't know what to tell you. The story as you, and Al-Ahram, have it seems so strange. Even with Abu Ghraib and other awful things in mind, I don't believe that US soldiers would act in this manner while in a raid.
But, as you well know, I am in no position to authenticate or deny the story beyond doubt.

Anyway, this is a serious story. The US should follow up on it and find this woman and address her case. Al-Hurriyya al-Thanya is a reasonably small residential area in Baghdad and a woman with such a story, if true, must be well known. If the reporter is found to have fabricated the story, then she and the paper should face some serious questioning and/or action in the proper way.

As for the rest of your questions: I do not know the writer. She is based in Baghdad and has been writing for a long time, but I do not know her personally. I do write an article in Al-Ahram Weekly once or twice a month, but I do not work for them. I do so as a favor for a friend who works as an editor there.

Al-Ahram Weekly (the English publication), unlike the rest of Arab media, provides a reasonably wide veriety of voices. For example, my last article was a strong criticism of the absurd remarks made by Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, about the Shi'a. They printed it without changing a word (I posted the text on my April 13th blog). **On Shi'a loyalty**

I hope this helps. Keep well.


p.s. I do agree very much with the remark you make at the end about the impact of such stuff on the Arab public opinion in Europe. But the negative reporting in Al-Ahram Weekly is no different from the kind of stuff that gets published in the UK papers and those of other countries. War has its critics as it has supporters and sometimes, unfortunately, the truth gets lost in between.

**I posted the link to Abbas's article in the Al-Ahram Weekly


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