On Saturday, December 13, LeAnne Clausen and Cliff Kindy traveled west to Ramadi to meet with Sa’ad Al Khashab, the director of the local Organization for Human Rights. They intended to further investigate the November 22 incident in which US soldiers had killed four of their own by friendly fire and then turned their guns on three prisoners in the village of Al Jazeera. (See previous CPTnet release, “U.S. Troops kill four of their own . . .”) Tra’ad Faisal, a neighbor, told them of five more Iraqis–including his cousin and his brother–that U.S. troops killed the same night.
Five young men had finished prayers at the mosque located about 500 meters from the home where the military operation had just ended. They got into their pickup and headed toward home, away from the operation. A US tank, from a neighboring house, opened fire on the pickup, killing two passengers in the bed of the truck and three in the cab. Two children in a nearby house were also injured. The death certificate of Mahmoud Rabi, one of the men in the pickup, gave his cause of death as “severe burning.”
When it was safe, after the military unit had departed, Faisal was among the group that took the bodies from the vehicle back to the mosque and then to the hospital in Ramadi. On the return from the hospital with the bodies and the death certificates, a military convoy of five tanks met them. The soldiers halted them, took photos, and then apologized. Locals thought the convoy was part of the same unit that had carried out the operation.
“On the 24th,” Tra’ad continued, “a tank returned to walk over the pickup.” It had been left beside the road after the attack and someone had already taken pictures of the vehicle. CPTers drove to the police station where they found and photographed the flattened vehicle behind the building.
Kindy and Clausen visited with members of the five bereaved families and ate lunch with many of them in a large room at Faisal’s house. Each of the five victims from the pickup was married except one. They ranged in age from 21 to 33 years. As a result of operation, more than six children were left fatherless.