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Did America Slaughter Iraqi Pilgrims?

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Posted on Feb 1, 2007
slaughtered cult members
AP Photo / Najaf Governor Office

Members of a little known cult called “Soldiers of Heaven,” killed in a fierce 24-hour battle which took place last weekend between the Iraqi troops backed by the US forces, the Najaf governors office said. Iraq’s Defense Ministry said 263 militants were killed, 210 wounded and 392 captured.

A startling new report in The Independent (UK) by respected journalist Patrick Cockburn suggests that a U.S. airstrike may have unnecessarily killed more than 100 members of an ostensibly peaceful Iraqi religious cult.

Cockburn, a veteran foreign correspondent reporting from Iraq, wrote that the official story of the deadly Jan. 28 clash outside the city of Najaf, between a shadowy Iraqi cult and Iraqi security forces supported by the U.S., may be a “fabrication.” The journalist said that, reports by the Iraqi government and in the U.S. media to the contrary, the cult members had been engaged in a peaceful pilgrimage when a violent incident involving Iraqi security forces outside the city gates snowballed into the cult’s annihilation by U.S. aircraft.

Cockburn based his assertion on independent Iraqi newspapers and websites.  He acknowledged that competing accounts could not be substantiated.

This complex tale is best told by Cockburn (click here).

The very complexity of the account drives home a central point: What the U.S. national media originally reported as a model example of Iraqi security forces partnering with U.S. forces to combat insurgents was in fact a still poorly understood set of events that bodes poorly for the U.S. mission in Iraq: As in Vietnam, where U.S. forces often could not distinguish friend from foe, U.S. forces find themselves unleashing horrific weapons of war against a populace whose language and cultural markers they are largely ignorant of.

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Indeed, if the story continues to develop along the lines that Cockburn’s story suggests, this battle—the deadliest single-day clash since the U.S. invasion—may become a touchstone of America’s deadly incompetence in the region, no less important, in its own way, than the U.S. massacre in My Lai during the Vietnam War.

We at Truthdig tip our hat to Cockburn for being the first Western reporter to tie together the strings of this story.


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By Abdul, February 4, 2007 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The American forces are attacking, invading, occupying and plundering Iraq based on Bush’s lies such as the non-existent WMDs. And it is the American, Israeli and UK agents who use cars full of explosives and detenoate them at mosques, markets etc to kill the innocent and defenceless Iraqi people. They do so to start civil wars in Iraq ! This is one of the dirty methods used by the US Armed Forces to divide and rule Iraq. Do you want the proofs?

(1)Covert Intelligence Operations: Stirring Ethnic Tensions in Iran Meanwhile, for the last two years, Washington has been involved in covert intelligence operations inside Iran. American and British intelligence and special forces (working with their Israeli counterparts) are involved in this operation. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=audioVideo

(2)www.chinaview.cn 2005-09-19 22:46:55 BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 (Xinhuanet)—Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city Basra for firing on a police station on Monday, police said. “Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers,” an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua. The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said. He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of Basra. The British forces informed the Iraqi authorities that the two soldiers were performing an official duty, the source said. MY COMMENT: SO BOMBING CIVILIAN TARGETS TO FRAME MUSLIMS AND PIT Sunnis AGAINST Shiites ARE ONE OF THE UK OFFICIAL DUTIES! The UK regime is a dirty regime!.... SOURCE: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-09/19/content_3514065.htm

(3)Americans disguised in Arab Dress captured in the act of setting off a car bomb… by Global Research, October 15, 2005 Mirror World .......... Who needs terrorists or insurgents if we can do that job much better!!!!! A number of Iraqis apprehended two Americans disguised in Arab dress as they tried to blow up a booby-trapped car in the middle of a residential area in western Baghdad on Tuesday. Residents of western Baghdad’s al-Ghazaliyah district told Quds Press that the people had apprehended the Americans as they left their Caprice car near a residential neighborhood in al-Ghazaliyah on Tuesday afternoon (11 October 2005). Local people found they looked suspicious so they detained the men before they could get away. That was when they discovered that they were Americans and called the Iraqi puppet police. Five minutes after the arrival of the Iraqi puppet police on the scene a large force of US troops showed up and surrounded the area. They put the two Americans in one of their Humvees and drove away at high speed to the astonishment of the residents of the area. Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20051015&articleId=1089


THEREFORE IT IS THE AMERICAN, ISRAELI AND UK AGENTS WHO BOMB CIVILIAN TARGETS IN IRAQ TO START CIVIL WARS! ZIONIST MEDIA ARE FABRICATING LIES TO FRAME THE INNOCENT MUSLIMS FOR THE CRIMES THEY NEVER DID! AND MORE ZIONISTS INVENT LIES TO BLAME AND FRAME MUSLIMS BY FALSELY CALLING THEM THE TERRORISTS! The US, UK and Israeli regimes are the Axis of Evil !!!!

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By Bukko in Australia, February 3, 2007 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Frank and Sam, I’d like to believe that U.S. forces weren’t involved in a massacre of misguided pilgrims. But as other commenters have said, there have been SO MANY other lies in this war.

The bit-by-bit breakdown of how it happened, complete with the names of tribes, car drivers and even the make of vehicle they were in, lends it credibility. Of course, it could be entirely made up. Wars are always filled with lies, from tales of the Huns boiling bodies of nuns to render their fat to make soap in WW I, to Iraqi invaders pulling babies out of incubators in Kuwait.

All the stories mention the hundreds of captives after this attack. What’s up with them? How about the wounded? What stories will they tell? Will America hear anything at all? I don’t trust the MSM to get the truth out, especially if it reflects badly on the war machine. That’s why I turn to Truthdig. It sifts through sources I never see otherwise.

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By Jackie T. Gabel, February 3, 2007 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE:    • Comment #51444 by Gracie_fr  on  2/03  at  10:59 am — “There have been numerous My Lai massacres in this war…”

>>>>> Negroponte Hondurn-style Death Squads are more common
and the black-ops/psy-ops are totally distorting all perspective — exactly as planned.

  RE: • Comment #51414 by Frank  on  2/03  at  5:12 am — “I have read many ridiculous pieces fo shoddy journalism from the Independant before, but this is low even for them. How did this ‘peaceful’ group of pilgrims manage to shoot down a US helicopter?”

>>>>> Who knows who shot whom, or what?
And, are you going to believe the MSM on any of this? They’re totally compromised. We didn’t get FAUX NEWS, Lies of our Times and The Washington Compost for nothing. Think of the old Cold War days when Russians used to joke: “There’s no truth in the News and no news in the Truth.” Or we could turn to our recent “elections” and remember what Stalin said, “Doesn’t matter who votes, only who counts the votes.”

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By dick, February 3, 2007 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Evil begets evil.Why are we over there?

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By Gracie_fr, February 3, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Antiwar.com editorialist Dahr Jamail makes a similar claim in his February 1, article, “Official Lies Over Najaf Battle Exposed”. There have been numerous My Lai massacres in this war and although the outrage is genuine and, necessarily so, it subsides under bureaucratic news-speak, blurring of timelines and the tarnishing whistleblowers . In the wake of these Najaf allegations, perhaps this time Congressional representatives will have the nerve to speak truth to power

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By Frank, February 3, 2007 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a completely bogus story and is below even Truthdig’s dubious standards. I have read many ridiculous pieces fo shoddy journalism from the Independant before, but thisis low even for them.

How did this ‘peaceful’ group of pilgrims manage to shoot down a US helicopter?

If they were ‘pilgrims’, why weren’t they massing in one fixed position and digging trenches?

The really sad part is the number of fools who frequent this website who will gladly believe this or any other negative bit of slander that is published about the US military.

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By Goffredo, February 2, 2007 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We probably did.  That sounds about right for this administration and its leaders in the military.

Shame on them, pity for the troops who are so mentally screwed up they don’t know where to go or what to do.  They just want to come home.

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By Matias, February 2, 2007 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whether this is true or not, there is one aspect worth noting. That is, the tail wagging the dog, aka Iraqi’s calling in US air strikes for possibly less than tactical or strategic reasons…and the US air power doing as it’s told, without critical tactical support to confirm the threats. When massive firepower is involved, the guilty and innocent die together…and it becomes difficult to tell them apart from the small pieces left over. I guess it’s best to just let God sort em out, huh? That’s certainly “The Decider’s” plan.

Considering the increasing level of sectarian violence, would it be a huge surprise if this was sectarian in nature?

There certainly has been a continuing pattern of lies and coverups when things of this sort happen and end up making the US look bad. Like Pat Tillman and the dishonorable lies and deceit that followed his death by friendly fire in Afghanistan. And virtually every other incident of this nature that has come to light has been preceded by an almost endless stream of lies and fabrications regarding what actually happened. A whole lot of bad things can be hidden in the so called “fog of war”...including stealing billions from American taxpayers, but that’s another story.

Anyway, it looks bad because there has been a noteable pattern of abuse of power that invariably draws one to conclude that bad things happened, and people tried to cover them up.

And as an adjunct to this discussion, I would like to say how vile the term surgical precision is in war. Waging war surgically is like using a chainsaw to do brain surgery…death is the result. War is a bludgeon, and the term surgical is innappropriate to how bludgeons are used.

This is so tiring and tragic…hopefully, the truth will be revealed soon. If that truth implicates the US in a war crime, the right wing media Nazi’s will swing into full gear trying to discredit the claims. Shame and honor are not in their vocabularies…ass covering and lying are.

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By Jackie T. Gabel, February 2, 2007 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE:    •    Comment #51205 by Sam  on  2/01  at  8:46 pm — “... this is shoddy journalism. You shouldnt repeat something like this as if it is true unless there is actual proof.”

>>>>Proof from where, the MSM?!?!

Sorry, Sam, but your MSM is thoroughly compromised — all owned by a few major corps with every editorial board infiltrated by alphabet spooks. The 4th Estate mission is being carried on out here, not by that lot. Moreover, false flag, black-ops/psy-ops and parallel pseudo-gangs have so distorted the War of Terror, it’s literally impossible to determine whose doing what — the why of it is the easiest of all: chaos; the goal being to fail every state whose despot does not willingly submit to NWO (New World Oligarchy) demands — 11 min. capsule http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_84-PT-REc4

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By GW=MCHammered, February 2, 2007 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This would explain reports that some US-trained Iraqi forces sat down during the battle refusing to fight. Perhaps they could see the reality on the ground versus this administration’s usual screw up on the ground then inevitable break with reality song and dance.

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By Lee Dekker, February 2, 2007 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leave the army out of this. They’re just doing their job, which happens to be death and destruction.

The ones responsible, for this and other atrocities in Iraq are our very own United States elected officials. They are the one’s who waved the flag, ignored the will of the people and allowed the “liberation” to go forward.

We blame and court-martial members of the military, as we should, for crimes against humanity. But we wholeheartedly condone the instigators, funders and perpetuators of those crimes.

All these court-martials and front page wrongdoings of the military are only diversions. It’s all just fluff to string us along until the next election. George and Dick and all the other Nazi want to bees will slip out the back door when all this is over. The Republicans will hand over power to the Democrats and magically, there will be no one to blame. But we are all to blame.

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By Traeh79, February 2, 2007 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Shame on this government!

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By The Big Raven, February 2, 2007 at 9:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the Iraq army and police are a Sick joke just like this made up war. To hell with america and all of the corupt leaders that run it and the sheep that consume everything (pigs)without any concern for anyone else.Piss on your flags and burn your bibles for you are neither a moral or a just country you even stole the land your on and Murdered the Native population shame shame shame shame

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By Esther, February 2, 2007 at 8:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There weren’t any Iranians or Iraqis among those 9/11 hijackers.

How inconvenient.

Oh, well - Americans can’t tell the difference. We’re supposed to be happy to kill anyone sort of ethnically similar to the 9/11 attackers.

Ay-rabs or Persians, from Eye-Rack, Eye-Ran, or wherever - brown people that Israel hates and who wear fancy textiles on their heads and sing funny and write all swirly-like - trust Bush to mow them all down for Israel, bringing God’s perverse blessings weirdly upon us.

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By Maher Osseiran, February 2, 2007 at 7:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Contacted major news organization bureau chief to ask why their coverage is one sided, official side, and so different from that of Cockburn, and Dahr Jamail.

The bureau chief agreed with me and promised that their follow up report will be more comprehensive.

Based on the level of the blackout, it must have been a massacre. Also, the issue of mass or individual graves; how could a governor decide which way to go; don’t the victims have family members left alive to make burial decisions or are they simply overwhelmed?

It is very sad to say that what happened is very predictable; scared troops on the ground and mighty but blind fire power in the air.

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By Big Al, February 2, 2007 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am so sick of this. When will we learn that every fresh “victory” in Bush’s “War On Terror” turns out to be a big fat lie?

Every. Single. One.

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By Agent 99, February 2, 2007 at 1:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I IMPLORE YOU, PLEASE!  Just read this, and MAKE IT STOP!

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By Sam, February 1, 2007 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t this the same problem you guys have with the right wing echo chamber. Somebody publishes some uncomfirmed report and then a bunch of other people repeat it giving it credence.

I’m as liberal as the next guy and I usually only read this stuff, but really, this is shoddy journalism. You shouldnt repeat something like this as if it is true unless there is actual proof.

The tone of this writing suggests that this is actually what happened. This is just like the Obama madrassa or Jamil Hussein story.

Please, I like Truthdig. I don’t want you guys to pull a Jason Leopold and ruin your reputation.

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By Quy Tran, February 1, 2007 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No surprise at all. The Vietnam massacres by U.S. ground troops and air forces have been returned in Iraq. Pity for innocent people !
Bush/Cheney and their blood suckers are happy with this accomplisment ! Congratulations to them ! We make huge victory !

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