A Town Awoke to Slaughter
Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2006
After the roadside bombing, the Marines arrived first at the door of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 89, an amputee who used a wheelchair. They shot him, then turned their guns on his three sons and their families, survivors said.
Waleed Abdul Hameed, a 48-year-old worker in Al Anbar's religious affairs office, was among the first of the family members to be gunned down. His 9-year-old daughter, Eman, said she was still wearing her pajamas when the Marines arrived. Her 7-year-old brother, Abdul Rahman, said he hid his face with a blanket when his father was shot.
A few minutes later, the boy saw his mother fall to the ground, dying.
"I saw her while she was crying," he said. "She fell down on the floor bleeding." Speaking days ago in Haditha, months after the attacks, the boy broke into tears, covered his eyes with his hands, and began to mutter to himself.
At his side, his elder sister began to speak again. Eman described how the two had waited for help, the bodies of their family members sprawled on the floor.
"We were scared," she said. "I tried to hide under the bed." With shrapnel injuries to her legs, she lay still for two hours.
When the shooting began, Eman's aunt, Hibba Abdullah snatched her 5-month-old niece off the floor. The baby's mother had dropped her in shock after seeing her husband gunned down. Clutching the child, Abdullah ran out of the house. She and the baby, Aasiya, survived.
The Marines stopped next at the home of customs official Younis Salim Nusaif, 45, his wife, Aida Yassin, and their six children. The 42-year-old Yassin was in bed that morning, recovering from a recent operation. Her sister had come to stay with the family and help with housework while she recuperated.
Everyone was at home when the troops arrived. And all but one 12-year-old girl were slain. Along with the parents and visiting sister, four girls and a boy, their ages ranging from 4 to 15, were shot by the Marines, said neighbors and the surviving child, Safa Younis Salim.
During a meeting with a reporter, Safa, with a round face and big brown eyes, was withdrawn and reluctant to talk about the attack. Only after her relatives coaxed her did she describe how she played dead. The Americans yelled in the faces of her family members before shooting them, she said, then kicked them and hit the bodies with their guns.
The schoolgirl said she lay on the ground, covered with her sister's blood, and pretended to be dead while her family died around her. Her sister's blood spurted fast; it was like a water tap, she said.
"I feel sorry. I was wishing to be alive," said Safa. "Now I wish I had died with them."
"It doesn't mean that much to hear that 20 people were killed by the Americans," said Hassan Bazzaz, a political analyst in Baghdad. "Every single day people are killed and thrown in the streets, in the garbage cans. They're scared to death. They don't even have time to think about what happened in Haditha."