A stepped up military offensive that targets mosques, religious leaders and Islamic customs is leading many Iraqis to believe that the U.S.-led invasion really was a 'holy war'.
Photographs are being circulated of black crosses painted on mosque walls and on copies of the Quran, and of soldiers dumping their waste inside mosques. New stories appear frequently of raids on mosques and brutal treatment of Islamic clerics, leading many Iraqis to ask if the invasion and occupation was a war against Islam.
Many Iraqis now recall remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush shortly after the events of Sep. 11, 2001 when he told reporters that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while."
"Bush's tongue 'slipped' more than once when he spoke of 'fascist Islamists' and used other similar expressions that touched the very nerve of Muslims around the world," Sheikh Abdul Salam al-Kubayssi of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni group, told IPS in Baghdad. "We wish they were just mere slips, but what is going on repeatedly makes one think of crusades over and over."
Occupation forces claim that mosque raids are being conducted because holy places are being used by resistance fighters.
A leaflet distributed in Fallujah by U.S. forces late November said mosques were being used by "insurgents" to conduct attacks against "Multi-National Forces", and that this would lead to "taking proper procedures against those mosques."
The statement referred to daily sniper attacks against occupation forces in Fallujah in which many U.S. soldiers have been killed.
Local people refute these claims made by coalition forces.
"Fighters never used mosques for attacking Americans because they realise the consequences and reactions from the military," a member of the local municipality council of Fallujah told IPS on condition of anonymity. "Nonetheless, U.S. soldiers always targeted our mosques and their minarets."
During Operation Phantom Fury of November 2004, scores of mosques in Fallujah were damaged or destroyed completely. Fallujah is known as the city of mosques because it has so many.
The above is from Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "The War Becomes More Unholy" (IPS) and Billie noted it. As propaganda targets the American people yet again (sell us that turned corner, one more time and all the show-moves that accompany it), it's good to open with reality.
Megan writes "HELP!" and notes that she's confused over the guilty pleas. There were three yesterday.
*Hashim Ibrahim Awad was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
*Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)
So those are the three incidents that three people entered into confessions/plea agreements with on yesterday.
Now, quickly, Borzou Daragahi and Louise Roug (LA Times) write about Iraq's budget for 2007 and how it's a $41 billion budget. There are details of the budget (which the reports have a copy of) but note that there is "$8 billion left over from last year" -- $8 billion that could have been spent (spent in Iraq, not al-Maliki playing Diamond Jim Brady and tossing it around to other countries) wasn't. If you missed it, the waters not potable, the electricity comes and goes and the hospitals are in crisis. That's just three that spring to my mind, I'm sure others could provide additional examples. How do you not spend $8 billion that you have when your country is in crisis?
The US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18." As for Wednesday deaths (of civilians), today is Friday. AP wrote about it in time to make the Thursday paper (NYT). The Times didn't. Today is Friday. It's sad when anyone dies; however, the majority dying are Iraqis. And the majority of those dying Iraqis never even get their names reported in the US press, forget a story about their lives. Has the Times ran the story on Thursday, we would have noted it. But we noted it on Thursday (without them).
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