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FishForLunch
05-16-2004, 09:29 PM
Hideously gruesome photographs and videotapes of Saddam Hussein's police torturing innocent Iraqis held at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison are said to be in the hands of the new Arab-language television network Alhurra, which is culling through the material and deciding what to broadcast.

Novelist and screenwriter Roger Simon reports on his Web site that the images include photographs or videotape of:


Actual live castrations of Kurds.

Two beheadings, with one featuring the executioners singing "Happy Birthday, Saddam" in Arabic as they carry out the grisly murder.

A detainee whose hand is tied to a board while his fingers are cut off one by one.

People being thrown off four-story buildings, including one who was forced to wear a Superman costume.

A man scourged 99 times.

Babies being gassed to death.

FishForLunch
05-16-2004, 09:38 PM
He chopped off my hand

From BRIAN FLYNN
in New York
JEWELLER Nazaar Joudi cries as he remembers the Americans taking over Abu Ghraib prison.

But the tears in his eyes are of gratitude, not humiliation.

He knows that a handful of US soldiers have brought shame upon themselves and their nation for the way they treated Iraqi prisoners at the jail.

But he also knows how much worse the prison was under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In March 1995, Saddam ordered that Nazaar’s hand be cut off. His “crime” was dealing in gold, a commodity the mad despot associated with the dollar he despised.

Yet the ordeal Nazaar and other Abu Ghraib inmates suffered has led to an extraordinary story of compassion and US humanitarianism.

Nazaar’s final act with his right hand before having it hacked off was to write a loving note to his wife.

Nine years later, he can delicately pick up a pen once more using a bionic hand fitted by US surgeons.

He is one of seven Iraqis mutilated by Saddam who have been given £30,000 robotic limbs in the States.

America has given back to them what Saddam cruelly took away.

Yet this incredible story has all but gone unnoticed in the furore over the abuse by rogue US military police at the jail.

Foreign currency trader Qasim Kadim was also among merchants rounded up by Saddam’s secret police.

They were singled out as scapegoats after the Iraqi economy collapsed.

Father-of-eight Qasim tells how police tortured him with electric cattle prods. He says: “I expected to be killed. Many others were.”

Another victim, Baasim Al Fadhly, recalls: “There were nine of us imprisoned in a tiny cell with 60 other men. We would take shifts so we could sleep on the floor.”

After a sham 30-minute “trial” — their defence lawyers never uttered a word — all nine were convicted of working in foreign currency.

Saddam himself ordered that their right hands be amputated.

Each man had to pay £30 for his crude operation, carried out while they were fully conscious.

A local anaesthetic lasted just 30 minutes.


Doctors, wearing hoods to protect their identities, sawed through their bones without treating the raw nerve endings, leaving the men in agony.

Saddam’s secret police videoed them all so the dictator could watch them to ensure his orders had been carried out.

The men were then thrown on to the streets with no medication. One died, one fled to Germany, the rest were ostracized.

Ironically the videos of the amputations eventually led to the mission to rebuild the hands — and lives — of the surviving seven.

Horrified US TV producer Don North was in Iraq to help train the new, free media. He was shown the footage in May last year and was appalled.

He managed to track down the victims, including Ala’a Subbar. He then contacted Houston journalist Marvin Zindler and told him of the men’s plight.

Zindler persuaded German medical company Otto Bock HealthCare to donate specialized prosthetic limbs and Dr Joe Agris was enlisted to carry out the surgery.

With war still raging, airlifting seven Iraqis out of Baghdad was difficult. But US officials, disgusted by the story, cut through the notorious American red tape.

Paul Bremer, America’s top official in Iraq, personally wrote a memo authorizing their departure.

US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz instructed the US Air Force to fly them to Frankfurt, Germany.

The new Homeland Security Department waived visa requirements and Continental Airlines donated flights to Houston.

Dr Agris asked fellow surgeon Fred Kestler to assist him and Houston’s Methodist Hospital donated their facilities.

There was a panic when the men arrived in Texas and Dr Agris realised they had nowhere to stay, but local families put them up until the Marriott Hotel chain offered free rooms.

Qasim says: “The new hand is easy to use. I can pick up things already and write letters. I am grateful to the Americans for their help and getting rid of Saddam.”

Referring to the pictures of American soldiers mistreating Iraqis, he adds: “I could not believe them at first. When I was in my country I saw lots of Americans. They were always very friendly.”

Dr Agris says: “Everybody knew that, perhaps, if we could send these guys back home to Iraq, we could show that Americans are good people with good hearts.

“The amputation video was horrific. To see other doctors do that is appalling. It reminded me of Nazi medical experiments.

“After severing the hands, doctors held them up to the men’s faces to show them what they had done. You could see them writhing in pain and shock.”

Since arriving in America, the Iraqis have watched in disbelief as the scandal of US soldiers humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib ballooned into massive media coverage.

Dr Agris adds: “They feel America has made some mistakes at Abu Ghraib. But they have been tortured and they know the alternative to US control.”

What has struck the amputees most about their trip to America is simply that they have the freedom to share their thoughts and say what they want without fear of reprisal.

A grateful Baasim says: “I have learned that the most important thing in America is freedom. Freedom is worth any sacrifice.”

FishForLunch
05-16-2004, 09:44 PM
Iraqi General Urges Support of U.S. Troops

Sun May 16, 2:54 PM ET Add World - AP to My Yahoo!


By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer

FALLUJAH, Iraq - A former Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)-era general appointed by the Americans to lead an Iraqi security force in the rebellious Sunni stronghold of Fallujah urged tribal elders and sheiks Sunday to support U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq (news - web sites).


Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif rose to prominence after nearly monthlong battles last month between the Marines monthlong battles in April between the Marines and insurgents hunkered down in Fallujah's neighborhoods.


"We can make them (Americans) use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it's your choice," Latif told a gathering of more than 40 sheiks, city council members and imams in an eastern Fallujah suburb.


The siege of this city of 200,000 people, located about 40 miles west of Baghdad, was lifted when top Marine officers announced the creation of the Fallujah Brigade — a force made exclusively of former Iraqi army officers.


The Marines withdrew from Fallujah into the rural hinterland and far-flung suburbs, allowing the Iraqi force to take up positions and start patrols inside the city. The brigade is expected to number about 1,500 men, many of them conscripts or noncommissioned officers under Saddam.


They are expected to fight the guerrillas, although some of the same insurgents who fought the Marines last month will likely join the brigade.


On Sunday, Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment provided security for the gathering in Kharma.


Latif, 66, a native of Baghdad, urged the elders to talk freely, citing the Muslim holy book, the Quran.


"The Quran says we should sit together, discuss and make a decision, but let it be the right decision," the silver-haired Latif — a slim figure wearing a blue shirt and dark blue tie and pants — told the sheiks.


The venue offered a rare insight into Latif's interactions and influence over Fallujah elders. As he spoke, many sheiks nodded in approval and listened with reverence to his words. Later, they clasped his hands and patted Latif on the back.


Latif, speaking in Arabic to the sheiks, defended the Marines and the U.S. occupation of Iraq.


"They were brought here by the acts of one coward who was hunted out of a rathole — Saddam — who disgraced us all," Latif said. "Let us tell our children that these men (U.S. troops) came here to protect us.


"As President Bush (news - web sites) said, they did not come here to occupy our land but to get rid of Saddam. We can help them leave by helping them do their job, or we can make them stay ten years and more by keeping fighting."


Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, the Marine battalion commander, said, "No truer words have been spoken here today than those by General Latif."


Latif also told the insurgents to "stop doing stupid things."


"Those bullets that are fired will not get the Americans out, let them finish their job here so that they can return to their country," Latif said.

"Our country is precious, stop allowing the bad guys to come from outside Iraq to destroy our country."

Latif, a former military intelligence officer said to have been imprisoned by Saddam and exiled, praised the former Iraqi army.

"The army used to be honest until Saddam made the men turn into beasts, take bribes, betray their own country," he said. "The real army is the army that works hard to serve its own citizens, with courage and strength."

After the meeting, Latif told The Associated Press that the situation in Fallujah has greatly improved, that "winds of peace" prevail in the city and the people that fled the fighting have returned. He would not elaborate on the size or current activities of the Fallujah Brigade.

"Let us speak about peace," Latif said in English. "Fallujah was an open wound, now it's healing."