Since I arrived in Amman, I’ve been making contacts and looking for appointments with people who’ve arrived recently from Iraq. We’re working on setting up those contacts, but it’s going slowly.
I’m hoping to arrange an interview this week with someone who just came to Amman from nearby Ramadi over the weekend, but I’m not sure how that will go.
Luckily, phones still work in Ramadi and elsewhere around Iraq, so we’ve been able to receive some updates that way, as well as by email from Qasem.
Rafat reached a friend in Ramadi yesterday. He is a manager at the electrical company in Ramadi. Accoring to him, the United States forces there shutdown the electricity and telephone center for many houses and all the public services were turned off or destroyed over the past week.
This corroborates with repeated comments by Qasem regarding the state of social services at this time in Ramadi.
Qasem’s latest email covers the events of Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Ramadi:
May 11, 2006
The day time was quiet but I heard the sounds of heavy guns somewhere around Ramadi…
At 9:00 pm an F-16 bombed one place, it is the train station again … in addition to this, tanks attacked the houses of the train station governmental employees…..three civilians where killed ..these civilians where father and his 2 kids …and some others injured ….and their house destroyed.
May 12, 2006
US troops were attacked by some fighters ….the attacks were in the military base that is located in the agriculture collage. The fighters attacked the base with machine guns and mortars, the reaction of the US troops was to attack the houses that were located near their base and at night they moved their tanks in the streets and arrested many people and inspected many houses.
Let me tell you what the inspection included. As usual, US soldiers were moving with tanks in the streets among the houses after midnight. They arrest people from any family that saw the fighters on their way to fighting location and they arrest any family that shows movment inside their house during US soldiers moving. Most arrest cases are when US soldiers notice that someone is still awake after midnight!!! Because of that me and my family and most the people in our area keep silent and hide inside our rooms and keep the kids quiet and take them to their beds. And sure all this happen in deep darkness every night because no electricity can be found. Only by private generators that can work only few hours because of very expensive fuel shortage.
After inspection any house the result will :
1- destroyed doors and windows.
2- Broken furniture and some broken sets such as TV sets ,refrigerator .
3- Broken car windows.
4- Scared kids and women, girls
And let me tell you what are the steps of getting US soldiers in any house after midnight :
1- US soldiers surround the house and watch it for few minutes.
2- They throw sonic bombs in the windows-that make high explosion sound to make shock on the people who are living inside and this shock keeps everybody inside unable to hear for 20 minutes at least …..and for babies there is risk to lose there ears hearing ability, maybe for their whole life.
3- The soldiers get in the house from many openings (windows, doors) and then they crash any door they face …..bedroom and kitchen, etc.
4- They take all the family (even women, kids) by force, shouting loudly and putting them in one room with tied hands in the darkest, smallest room …..
5- The soldiers start inspection and they break any closed cabinets and lockers……
6- After they make sure that there is no weapons or bombs in this house ….the soldiers start to collect information from the family members. Mostly there are no interpreters with the US soldiers, so that mostly the soldiers will arrest the males and young boys to interrogate them in the US military base.
7- After the US soldiers finish, they throw smoke bombs outside the house then they ride the tanks with the arrested people to go back to their military base.
My family had this experience many times when they had US inspectors after midnight …..and the worst thing for them is when I am not available to be the interpreter for the US soldiers.
Many times I got offers from US soldiers (when they inspecting my house) to be interpreter with US soldiers in inspections with good payment, but I refuse because I know that I will be partner to the US troops crimes in Iraq if I be with them during their killing my people.
US soldiers need to understand that all of them came to Iraq with their guns and hurt Iraqis too much and all of them have his own share in Iraqi tragedy ..in addition all of Iraqis are victims and a few of them fight to stop this tragedy.
Today in the morning the US troops tried to get more houses to use them as snipers bases…….and many fighters appeared with their guns to stop this.
US soldiers use all the power that they can get from tanks and helicopters that attacked many houses and killed many people (most of the victims were civilians).
This time the US soldiers chose my house to use it as snipers base. At 3 am 10s of US soldiers destroyed the outer gate of my house and came in the house while my family were sleeping …..they hid in the garden for a while. I was woken up. I heard their sounds and steps. After awhile they got inside after crashing the two main doors of my house. Then I came out of my room to show myself with some English words that can help my family to avoid the harmful reaction of the American way of getting in the bedrooms.
The US soldiers shouted on me ” Freeze! Turn back to the wall with raised hands now!” the US soldiers shouted on me.
I did what he asked me. Another US soldier inspected me then he said “he is clean” he said for the officer who was watching me carefully……there was three Iraqi soldiers whose cant speak English at all…….but they where speaking each to other
” OK….. can you help US to finish our job here……we need you to tell us about this house and what kind of people living here.”
The officer asked me this while the other soldiers moving around me ..in fact I cant see them, it was dark but they see me by their instruments found in their helmets ….but I noticed that the officer brought our kerosene lamp to help to see my steps and to see him while he talking to me.
“Please do not hurt us we are a peaceful family and my family includes kids and women and an old man (my father) …please let me wake them by my self to be ready for inspection…….
“ok…..hurry up and I want all the people whose living here come to be in this room ” the officer said pointing to my small room. I hurried to wake up my father and mother telling them calmly that US soldiers are here and all of us are OK….and they want all of us to be in one room” I said to my father with calm voice to avoid scaring him-he has heart problems.
Then I went to my sisters room and woke them up and took them to my room …..2 US soldiers moved with me without saying any word……they felt safe with me because I was doing their orders.
In the room of kids I found my nephews sleeping, one of my nephew, Mustafa who is 5 years old was sick and sleeping deeply. I carried him and moved with the other kids to my room. Finally I waked up all the family and all of the stayed in the room.
The soldiers started tieing the hands of all family members …..but I stopped him
” please do not do this …..you can lock the door but don’t tie their hands, there is kids ….it is hard for them ……please do not do that” I said to the officer.
” ok …..lock the door ….it will be enough” the officer said.
” You are 18 members living in this house ??? how ” the officer asked me
“We have no choice …..that it is all what we can ….there is no other place to live…..but it is ok …our house is nice enough for all of us together ” I answered with a smile….trying to make them relax.
“You are a good boy …..take care your family ” he said with smile
“Oh no ….I am not boy ….I am man ….do not let me feel bad” I said to him ….kidding
“Oh sorry, sorry …..how old are you???”
” I am 30 years old ….”
“Oh , you seem younger…..30 ??? Are you sure?? ”
“Yes I am sure ….and if I seem younger it is good for my girlfriend-right?”
” hahaha…yes sure. you deserve good one ” officer said with laugh
” she is good ….and it is not your business …..ok….??” I said with laughing
“Ok …..ok…..now get in with your family and we will open the door when we finish……get in the room please”…the officer said
I keep quiet while I am getting in the room …..
One of the soldiers locked the door and we stayed in darkness.
At the beginning I thought that the soldiers will get out after they finish inspecting the house ….but they stayed till the 11:20 am…..and we stayed in the dark room for 6 hours …
The first 2 hours were ok although it was very hot and dark ….but the problems started when Mustafa wanted to go to bath room………I asked the soldiers to allow him to go…..
“We cant open it …only the Americans can open it ….we not allowed to do any thing without their orders” Iraqi soldier said to me .
” Ok tell them now ….he is sick kid and he need to go toilet now”
“Ok…..I will try ….I can’t speak English……I just will tell them by signs …ok??” the Iraqi soldiers said
He went upstairs and after few miutes he came back with one US soldier.
“What is your problem ??? ” the American soldier asked me behind the locked door
I explained for him about my nephew …..then he opened the door
“Ok …he should go alone …” the American soldier said
“No he cant he is sick…..he is sick he cant walk ….he have weak legs”
“Ok ok …..You go with him …..and you,” pointing to the Iraqi soldier, “watch them.” the American soldier said to me and to the Iraqi soldier.
“What he said ??” the Iraqi soldier asked me
I explained for him …………then we go to the toilet and the Iraqi soldier points his gun on us, me and 5 year-old sick Mustafa
This way of used with every one went to the bath room…….we spend the 6 hours as hostages in dark hot room.
The next message will explain what happened ……..thanks.