Saturday, August 13, 2005
Army style fate
In this part of Baghdad, you avoid both the insurgents and the Americans - if you are lucky. Yassin al-Sammerai was not. On 14 July, the second grade schoolboy had gone to spend the night with two college friends and - this being a city without electricity in the hottest month of the year - they decided to spend the night sleeping in the front garden. Let his broken 65 year-old father Selim take up the story, for he’s the one who still cannot believe his son is dead - or what the Americans told him afterwards.
"It was three-thirty in the morning and they were all asleep, Yassin and his friends Fahed and Walid Khaled. There was an American patrol outside and then suddenly, a Bradley armoured vehicle burst through the gate and wall and drove over Yassin. You know how heavy these things are. He died instantly. But the Americans didn’t know what they’d done. He was lying crushed under the vehicle for 17 minutes. Um Khaled, his friends’ mother, kept shouting in Arabic: "There is a boy under this vehicle."
According to Selim al-Sammerai, the Americans’ first reaction was to put handcuffs on the two other boys.
...The Americans came back with an officer two days later," Selim al-Sammerai continues. "They offered us compensation. I refused. I lost my son, I told the officer. ’I don’t want the money - I don’t think the money will bring back my son.’ That’s what I told the American.
There is a long silence in the room. But Selim, who is still crying, insists on speaking again.
"I told the American officer: ’You have killed the innocent and such things will lead the people to destroy you and the people will make a revolution against you. You said you had come to liberate us from the previous regime. But you are destroying our walls and doors.’"
I suddenly realise that Selim al-Sammerai has straightened up on his seat and his voice is rising in strength. "Do you know what the American said to me? He said, ’This is fate.’ I looked at him and I said, ’I am very faithful in the fate of God - but not in the fate of which you speak.’"
Read the full article here.