The Army has brought charges against five more soldiers in the rape and murder of ‘Abir Hamzah and the murder of her father, mother and younger sister. These soldiers are still stationed in Iraq. Four have been charged with rape and murder and one was charged with dereliction of duty for not reporting the crime in March when it happened, bringing the number of American troops now charged in this atrocity to six. Documents provided to Reuters by a relative evidence that ‘Abir Hamzah was born August 19, 1991, meaning she had not yet turned 15. I gave birth to my daughter, Naomi, on April 20, 1991– ‘Abir was just her age. Dear god, dear god, it is overwhelming to even imagine it.
My first thought is that this lends additional credence to the eyewitness report I posted yesterday. The neighbor who found the bodies reported that a “force of 10-15 soldiers” raided the home. We now find that six have been charged; this was not the work of one personality-disordered private.
One blogger who has been covering this rape and the murders, Joseph Cannon, Cannonfire, on Uruknet has asked questions I have had as well:
- If you read the eyewitness account, and so far it has proved to be credible, it looks like there was a cover-up. First the neighbor saw a force of 10-15 troops raid the house; three hours later, according to the eyewitness, soldiers returned to the house and told him and other neighbors that insurgents had committed the rape and murders because the family was Shi’a. This did not work with the neighbors, because they knew the family was Sunni.
- According to the eyewitness, the girl’s body was taken to an American hospital. Why? Why not an Iraqi hospital? According to the reports, her body was taken to an Iraqi hospital only after it was taken to an American hospital. News reports today say the Army wants to exhume ‘Abir’s body, and it is making a big show about being “culturally sensitive” in that exhumation, all well and good, but how culturally sensitive was the Army when it took ‘Abir’s mutilated body to a U.S. hospital immediately following her rape and murder, and how do we know that the purpose of taking her body was not to expunge it of DNA evidence?
- Why did the Army, within three hours, return to tell neighbors that this was the work of “insurgents” apparently without any investigation? Did commanding officers simply believe what they were told, presumably, by Green and the others?
- If Green and the others left the checkpoint as they said they did, the checkpoint being near the house, did they leave it completely unmanned? If not, wouldn’t whoever was manning the checkpoint have heard gunfire? Wouldn’t the Army, as part of any investigation it did, have asked whomever manned the checkpoint whether or not they heard gunfire, smelled smoke, heard a commotion or screams? Wouldn’t they have been asked why they didn’t investigate the gunfire? What, whomever manned the checkpoint said, “No, we didn’t hear anything?” and the Army said, “okay” and that was that? Or the person manning the checkpoint said, “Yes, I heard it, but I didn’t investigate it or report it,” and that was that? Or did the Army learn, in fact, that nobody was at the checkpoint after all because they were all over committing rape and murder? No matter which way you look at it, there was some sort of cover-up. And, I think the cover up required additional cover-ups, like sending Green home with a diagnosis of “dangerous to civilians.”
It would be so much less nightmarish if we could simply believe that this was the work of one disturbed and drunk young man. But it doesn’t add up, and I don’t believe that.
In a final irony, Joseph Cannonfire at Uruknet points us to this blog which points us to a horrifically ironic article from the Army News Service. The photo and caption which originally accompanied the article have been removed, but are still visible on the cached version.
The caption reads: “Pfc. Steven Green, B Co. 1-502 prepares to blast a lock off the gate of an abandoned home during a search of homes in Mullah Fayed on Dec. 2.”
Yes, it’s the same Steven Green.
The article is entitled, Coalition Forces Keep Streets of Iraq Safe, and in part, it reads:
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 9, 2005) – Soldiers from Task Force Baghdad, alongside Iraqi forces, constantly search the streets and alleyways of Baghdad and surrounding communities for weapons, insurgents and anti-coalition propaganda. The searches are thorough, yet the Soldiers still respect people’s rights and property.
“I feel that our patrols make a difference,” said Sgt. Kenneth Casica. “I guess the patrols make the insurgents nervous because they know…we’ll push them out of this area to make the people feel safe.”
…“Today’s mission was to see if we could apprehend insurgents who may have been in the area,” said Sgt. Kenneth Casica, a team leader in 1st Platoon. “We want [the citizens] to realize that we are here to help them.”
In order to stabilize the area, the Soldiers and the citizens have established a basic trust, which is why during patrols U.S. troops take care in searching people’s homes.
“This was nothing like a big raid,” Casica said. “We just asked people to open cabinets and looked around in their things.”
Even though Soldiers of B Co. did not find any weapons or terrorists, they know their presence helps reduce the chance of the insurgency gaining a stronghold in the city.
…When responsible for maintaining the peace of a city and reducing the effectiveness of the insurgency, there is no such thing as a day off.
This is what is known as propaganda. We do it with the best of them, and we do it so horrifyingly well.
It looks to me as though a teenage girl was raped, tortured, murdered, her family, too, by U.S. soldiers, and that this rape and these murders were covered up by those in command. I hope and pray that in fact, Army officers didn’t order, stage, this attack as some sort of deadly sick psy-op, as Joseph Cannon theorizes. I hope and pray.
Edited to add that the Complaint in U.S. v. Green can be found here.