Marines on Trial for Haditha Murders Massacre for a Fallen Comrade?
Part 5: A Massacre for Mikey?
Afterwards, says one eyewitness, a neighbor named Aws Fahmi, one of the Marines urinated on the dead men. This statement would be confirmed later on during the trial at Camp Pendleton. Urinating on a dead man after killing him? Did Mikey's death somehow change everything, render everything else pointless and meaningless? Was it necessary to conduct a massacre for Mikey?
Reinforcements arrived about 10 minutes later, with Lieutenant William Kallop in command. Kallop is from New York, the son of wealthy parents. It was his first tour of duty, and some believed he was lacking in confidence and not up to the job. He had a habit of stuttering slightly when agitated. But as the highest-ranking officer at the site, Kallop was in command.
Wuterich told Kallop about the explosion and the alleged gunfire. "We should take a look at the houses on the left side of the road, Sir," said Wuterich. Kallop nodded. A combat patrol was formed, consisting of three men under Wuterich's command. All were in their early to mid-20s, naïve, terrified and furious.
The first house they stormed belonged to a 78-year-old man named Abdul-Hamid Hassan Ali. His left leg had been amputated, he was wheelchair-bound and he wore thick glasses. Abd al-Hamid was still wearing his pajamas that morning when he rolled his wheelchair to the door and opened it. He was shot immediately. His wife, Khamisa Thama Ali, 66, probably hurried to the door. Her body was found later next to that of her husband. She too had been shot.
Abdul-Hamid's three sons, Jahid, Rashid and Walid, between 28 and 43 years of age, were shot. Walid's wife Asma was shot, and her four-year-old son Abdullah was shot in the chest while lying in bed. At least one hand grenade was tossed into the house. Haba Abdullah, 25, another daughter-in-law, managed to grab one of the children, a five-month-old girl named Asia, and escape through the back door. Two other children, Iman, 10, and Abdul Rahman, 8, were found later, injured and traumatized, but alive.
There were no weapons in the house, nor was there any sign of resistance. But seven people were already dead.
The second house, to the left of the first, belonged to a man named Younis Salim Rasif, 43, a customs agent who worked two-week rotating shifts on the Jordanian border. He happened to be home at the time. When he failed to open the door, the Marines broke it open.
In addition to Younis Salim Rasif, the occupants of the house included his wife Aida, who was recuperating in bed from an appendix operation, her sister Hoda, who was visiting the family to help out, and six children.
Only one of the people in this second house survived: a girl named Safa, who was about 12 at the time. Shortly after the attack, she was taken to relatives in Baghdad, where she was interviewed by telephone. "They killed my father, my mother and my Aunt Huda," she said. "They killed my sister Nuur, who was 14 and wanted to become a dentist. They killed my sister Saba. She was 10. They killed my brother Mohammed, who was eight and had had a birthday in January. He was a good soccer player. He loved the American helicopters. They shot my sister Seina. I used to braid her hair. She was only five. They shot my sister Aisha, who was three."
The third house was on the opposite side of the road. It belonged to Jamal Ayd Ahmed, a 37-year-old car dealer who was married, with three sons and two daughters. His father lived next door. According to the testimony of the neighbor, Aws Fahmi Hussein, the Marines took the women and children to the house next door and locked them in. Then they returned to the husbands and fathers to execute them. When Aws Fahmi Hussein tried to intervene, he was shot in the stomach, but survived. Four people died in the third house.
Including Miguel Terrazas and the occupants of the taxi, 25 people died between 7 and 10 a.m. on Sifani Street in Haditha.
The incident was handled routinely. The troop leader reported to the company leader, who reported to the battalion commander. Then the information was passed on to the press office. That was where a mistake was made.
In the press release, the incident was not only downplayed, but it was also portrayed incorrectly. This report ended up on the desk of Tim McGirk, the Time magazine correspondent in Baghdad.