More detail testimony by the US deserters!
“Shoot first, ask questions later”
3/31/2006 5:00:00 PM GMT
(REUTERS PHOTO) Detained Iraqis surrounded during a raid in Maidan, northeast of Baquba, Iraq
In one incident a U.S. army squad leader shot the foot off an unarmed Iraqi civilian and fellow soldier kicked a severed head around as if they’re in a football match, described Joshua Key, a U.S. war deserter.
Speaking to an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing on Thursday, Joshua Key, the first U.S. deserter with combat experience in Iraq to apply for refugee status in Canada, detailed what he said were numerous atrocities committed by U.S. Army he witnessed while serving eight months as a combat engineer in Iraq, according to the Canadian Press.
Key, who was told in Iraq by superior officers that the international law guiding humanitarian standards was just a "guideline," said he was never trained on the Geneva Convention.
"It's shoot first, ask questions later," Key, 27, said of his squad's guiding principles.
Key, one of five members of the U.S. armed forces seeking asylum in Canada, told the hearing he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and frequently has nightmares over the horrific scenes and the inhuman acts of the U.S. soldiers he witnessed in Iraq.
As a member of the 43rd Combat Engineer Company, Key recalled taking part in almost nightly raids on houses of what the military claimed belonged to suspected rebels in Ramadi and Fallujah.
Key said soldiers ransacked homes and steal jewelry and money, while superior officers looked the other way, adding that those attacks on seldom turned up anything valuable.
During those raids, several Iraqis were shot dead, Key said, adding that there were cases where soldiers "shoot out of fear and invent reasons afterward."
Key said he saw beheaded bodies of fours Iraqis beside a shot-up vehicle in Ramadi. He also described seeing members of the Florida National Guard kicking a severed head "like a soccer ball."
In Khaldia, a village between Fallujah and Ramadi, Key witnessed one of his "trigger happy" platoon's squad sergeants shoot part of an unarmed Iraqi man's foot off.
He also described another horrific scene where U.S. soldiers indiscriminately kick and scream at two hooded and naked group of Iraqis while escorting them to a grassy area to relieve themselves.
Asked by Keith Brennenstuhl, the IRB member overseeing the hearing, ruled at an earlier hearing that the board would not consider the legality of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, whether he received any interrogation training before snatching what the military called were suspects out of their homes during raids, Key said:
"The only thing we were told was how to keep them quiet," Key said. Soldiers cuffed prisoners' hands behind their backs and put hoods over their heads, key added.
"Could they breathe?" Brennenstuhl asked.
"I guess it wasn't my concern," replied Key, who also said that officers used the hoods with the aim of "humiliating them."
Key, who says he went to Iraq as a willing participant believing U.S. intelligence claims that the former Iraqi Saddam Hussein possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, noted he became disillusioned with the war during his service and thus decided to abandon his contract with the army during a two-week leave from Iraq in November 2003.
• Worst of massacres
Of the latest scandals involving the U.S. soldiers’ inhuman acts in Iraq was the Haditha incident where the American invaders murdered 15 Iraqi civilians.
Ignoring residents’ accounts about the Nov. 19 incident in Haditha where U.S. Marines killed 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, following a roadside bomb that killed a Marine, a U.S. military official, who asked not to be identified, claimed that it was common for Iraqi rebels to fight from civilian homes and structures and place noncombatants in the line of fire.
But a 10-year-old Iraqi girl, who lost seven members of her family in an attack by American marines in the horrific November incident, has exclusively given ITV News a shocking first hand account of the horrific Haditha massacre which residents say amounts to mass murder by U.S. invader.
According to the Iraqi girl’s story, which has been disputed by the U.S. occupying Army, a group of screaming soldiers stormed Iman Waleed’s house in the Iraqi town of Haditha spraying bullets in every direction. 15 people were killed, including Iman’s parents and grandparents.
Although Iman’s account was confirmed by other eyewitnesses who also said that the incident, described by human rights workers as the worst massacre of civilians by U.S. forces in the country since March 2003 invasion began, was a revenge attack after a roadside bomb killed only one marine.
A November statement issued by the U.S. military claimed that the incident was an ambush on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol that left 15 civilians, eight rebels and a U.S. Marine dead in the bombing and a subsequent firefight.
But the claim had been rejected by numerous residents’ accounts, which confirm that the only shooting after the bombing was by U.S. forces.
Victor: Is one who faces an equal or suprior adversary and overcomes.
Coward: Is one who takes on weak and claims victory.