The Wedding

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Annie, May 24, 2004.

  1. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Synoptic view
    More details on the 'wedding party' attack from CNN:

    A senior coalition military spokesman said Saturday that dozens of people killed in a U.S. attack in the Iraqi desert early Wednesday were attending a high-level meeting of foreign fighters, not a wedding. Photos shown to reporters in Baghdad support that contention.

    Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said six women were among the dead, but he said there was no evidence any children died in the raid near the Syrian border. Coalition officials have said as many as 40 people were killed. Kimmitt said video showing dead children killed was actually recorded in Ramadi, far from the attack scene.

    "There may have been some kind of celebration," Kimmitt said. "Bad people have celebrations too. Bad people have parties too." Kimmitt said troops did not find anything -- such as a wedding tent, gifts, musical instruments, decorations or leftover food -- that would indicate a wedding had been held.

    Most of the men there were of military age, and there were no elders present to indicate a family event, he said. What was found, he said, indicated the building was used as a way station for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq from Syria to battle the coalition.

    "The building seemed to be somewhat of a dormitory," Kimmitt said. "You had over 300 sets of bedding gear in it. You had a tremendous number of pre-packaged clothing -- apparently about a hundred sets of pre-packaged clothing. "[It is] expected that when foreign fighters come in from other countries, they come to this location, they change their clothes into typical Iraqi clothing sets."

    At Saturday's briefing for reporters in Baghdad, Kimmitt showed photos of what he said were binoculars designed for adjusting artillery fire, battery packs suitable for makeshift bombs, several terrorist training manuals, medical gear, fake ID cards and ID card-making machines, passports and telephone numbers to other countries, including Afghanistan and Sudan. None of the men killed in the raid carried ID cards or wallets, he said. "We feel that that was an indicator that this was a high risk meeting of high-level anti-coalition forces," Kimmitt said. "There was a tremendous number of incriminating pocket litter, a lot of telephone numbers to foreign countries, Afghanistan, Sudan and a number of others."

    Now we have the beginning of a convergence in this story, and some contradictory details. First, there is agreement that a particular set of buildings was raided while a group of people were present and that "six women were among the dead". It has been established by common account that there was no mistaken bombing raid on celebratory gunfire from 40,000 feet. It was an attack on a set of buildings, including an infantry assault.

    But there is a divergence with regard to the purposes of the targeted building. The Guardian account portrays it as a normal innocent residence. Kimmitt categorically identifies it as something else. "The building seemed to be somewhat of a dormitory," Kimmitt said. "You had over 300 sets of bedding gear in it. You had a tremendous number of pre-packaged clothing -- apparently about a hundred sets of pre-packaged clothing. "[It is] expected that when foreign fighters come in from other countries, they come to this location, they change their clothes into typical Iraqi clothing sets."

    At this point, either of two things can happen. The press can begin to divide on the credibility of the witnesses. The Guardian may prefer to believe Mrs. Shihab and others prefer to believe General Kimmitt, or it can seek further facts. The problem is that certain sets of facts might turn out to be both true. One possible way to solve the problem of the essential character of the gathering, though not of the house is to examine the dead. Recall that there are 27 graves in Ramadi, some said to contain more than one set of remains said to belong to the victims. At least 25 of them were in identifiable condition. We know from the Guardian article that "Dr Alusi (of Al Qaim hospital) said 11 of the dead were women and 14 were children. 'I want to know why the Americans targeted this small village,' he said by telephone. "These people are my patients. I know each one of them. What has caused this disaster?" So we would expect nearly all the graves in Ramadi to belong to women and children if Mrs. Shihab's story were true. On the other hand, we would expect to find a lot of buried military age males if it were not.


    posted by wretchard | Permalink: 11:40 PM Zulu
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Trivial Pursuit
     
  2. nycflasher
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    nycflasher Active Member

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    whose synopsis is this?
     
  3. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Unable to check CNN?
     
  4. nycflasher
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    nycflasher Active Member

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    just was unclear about where the story you posted came from...
    you wrote: posted by wretchard | Permalink: 11:40 PM Zulu
     
  5. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    A link would be nice.
     
  6. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/lateststories/index.ssf?/base/international-14/1085449158275060.xml




    U.S. says Iraq attack site wasn't wedding

    By SCHEHEREZADE FARAMARZI
    The Associated Press
    5/24/2004, 9:34 p.m. ET


    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — The U.S. military introduced more photographs Monday to bolster its contention that American aircraft attacked a safehouse for foreign fighters near the Syrian border — not a wedding party, as claimed by Iraqi survivors and police and suggested by footage from the scene.

    The military presented its case at a news conference while elsewhere in the capital, the widow of a popular Baghdad wedding singer who was among up to 45 people killed in Wednesday's attack said "he was an example of beauty."

    "He had a warm voice," Khawla Ibrahim said of her 37-year-old late husband, Hussein al-Ali. "They always played his songs on the radio."

    Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition deputy chief of staff for operations in Iraq, introduced several new photographs Monday — those of a house and white powder he said was being tested for drugs.

    Kimmitt again showed pictures of items the military said it found at the attack site, including machine guns, rounds of ammunition, a Sudan Airways plane ticket, medical gear, a Sudanese passport and battery packs associated with improvised explosive devises.

    "These are pictures that are somewhat inconsistent in my mind with a wedding party," Kimmitt said. "One could say, yes, it is true that out in the desert you need to have a rifle to protect yourself against Ali Baba but the necessity for rocket-propelled launchers, rocket launchers in the bottom, special machine guns may be a little much for Ali Baba out there."

    "What we found on the ground and our post-strike analysis suggests that what we had was a significant foreign fighter smuggler way-station in the middle of the desert that was bringing people into this country for the sole purpose of attacking to kill the people of Iraq," he said.

    U.S. officials have not given a complete breakdown of the number and types of weapons seized at the site of the attack in the desolate village of Mogr el-Deeb, about five miles from the Syrian border.

    Photos displayed by the U.S. command have shown about a dozen weapons, including rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and handguns. U.S. officials suggest they recovered more than has been shown to reporters.

    Ownership of guns is considered a mark of manhood here, and rural Iraqis routinely own an array of weaponry. Weapons proliferated here after arsenals were looted following the collapse of the former regime and the loosening of controls along the borders.

    A videotape obtained on Sunday by Associated Press Television News shows a Mogr el-Deeb wedding party attended by Iraqis, some of whom were identified by an Associated Press reporter and photographer as survivors at a hospital. The tape does not show any weapons.

    Separate video that APTN shot in Mogr el-Deeb a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans, and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations, scattered around a bombed-out tent.

    Kimmitt said the U.S. operation lasted from midnight until about 4 a.m. and that ground forces moved in after the bombing. Survivors say U.S. planes attacked a few hours after the Tuesday evening wedding party was over.

    Kimmitt again denied finding evidence that any children died in the raid.

    "We have witnesses that say no children were killed there. That's why we need to take all that evidence, take all the information, put it before the investigators and let's see where it takes us," he said.

    Survivors said most of the dead were women and children, some of whose bodies were filmed by APTN at their burial in the city of Ramadi.

    Also killed were musician Muhanad al-Ali, who had promised to buy jewelry for his wife from the money he expected to earn for performing at a wedding party, and his brother Hussein, the singer.

    "I wish he had been wounded instead, his legs severed and they had brought him back to me in a wheelchair," sobbed Muhanad's wife, Rabab Radif, whose husband appears in the videotape of the celebrations obtained by APTN.

    The tape of the celebrations, captured by a hired cameraman, shows al-Ali, a stocky man with close-cropped hair, as he plays an electric organ. His older half brother, Hussein, sings to an audience of men reclining on brightly colored silk pillows.

    APTN video that was shot in Ramadi on Wednesday shows the body of the younger al-Ali in a burial shroud, his face clearly visible and wearing the same tan shirt that he wore during the performance.

    At a family residence in a poor Baghdad neighborhood, female relatives in black continued to receive condolences Monday.

    Before leaving Baghdad at 9 a.m. on May 16 for the long journey to the desert village, Hussein asked his wife if she would go along with him, she said. "It was the first time he had asked me to join him on such a trip," said his wife, who said she declined to go because she was shy.

    The three-day party — as is the tradition here — began on Monday and was to end Wednesday night.

    The singer's wife said only one member of the 10-man band, Basem Shihab, survived the attack.

    She said that her husband began singing 12 years ago, and that the couple married 14 years ago and had two daughters, Atiaf, 12 and Saba, 10.

    "He's very famous," she said. Then she began singing one of his songs. One of his sisters sang along with her, helping her with the words.

    Hussein was going to make about $2,800 for performing at the wedding in Mogr el-Deeb — he was to keep half of it and give the rest to the other members of the band, his wife said.

    Muhanad and his wife were to celebrate their first wedding anniversary at the end of this month. He had promised his mother that he would fix her kitchen floor with the money he was going to earn from performing in the wedding.

    "Is it possible not to be able to distinguish between a wedding and a base for fighters?" asked Hoda, one of the musicians' four sisters.


    Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
     

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