Sunday, August 28, 2005

Casey Sheehan died because of this?

As if we heard any of this in the US. Everything I heard portrayed him as a lawless, uncaring fanatic.

Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs: "
I had traveled to Sadr City to cover the Bush administration's attack on the movement of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It didn't matter that the cleric had millions of followers or that he was the scion of an important political family with a history of standing up to tyranny. (His father was killed by Saddam Hussein's regime for fomenting revolution in 1999. His uncle, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, was killed for leading an insurrection against Saddam's Ba'ath rule in 1980.)

It didn't matter that Sadr's forces were providing food aid to the poor or organizing traffic patrol and garbage duty in an atmosphere with no basic services. The problem for Bush and his Iraq administrator, L Paul Bremer, was that Sadr was against the US occupation. So he had to be dealt with. First his newspaper was closed. (See The Shi'ite voice that will be heard, Asia Times Online, April 8, 2004)Then his top advisor was arrested. Then Bremer announced an unnamed judge was demanding that Sadr be arrested on charges of murder. 'He's effectively attempting to establish his authority in place of the legitimate Iraqi government,' Bremer told reporters. 'We will not tolerate that.'

That was the last straw. Until April 4, 2004 Muqtada had urged his followers to protest peacefully against the occupation. But the US assault led him to urge his followers to 'terrorize the enemy'. In the first 48 hours of fighting, Sadr's followers seized police stations and government buildings across the country, including the governor's office in Basra.

At least 75 Iraqis and 10 US servicemen were killed, among them Army Specialist Casey Sheehan. As an unembedded journalist, I saw only the Iraqi casualties (the US casualties being taken away to military hospitals). My translator Waseem and I weaved through roads closed by US tanks until we arrived at Sadr City's al-Ubaidi Hospital.

There, I interviewed 15-year-old Ali Hussein. "

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