Eyewitness: US Troops Initiated Looting


Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:18:51 -0700
To: Jan <•••@••.•••>
From: Jan Slakov <•••@••.•••>
----Original Message Follows----

From: "Bob Stuart" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: Swedish Eyewitness: US Troops Jump Started Looters
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 12:00:46 -0700

Article from Sweden's largest circulation daily, 
Dagens Nyheter, Friday April 11, 2003


    By Ole Rothenborg

Khaled Bayomi looks a bit surprised when he looks at
the American officer on TV regret that they don't have
any resources to stop the looting in Baghdad.

- I happened to be there just as the US forces told
people to commence looting.

Khaled Bayomi departed from Malmoe to Baghdad, as a
human shield, and arrived on the same day the fighting

About this he can tell us plenty and for a long time,
but the most interesting part of his story is his
witness-account about the great surge of looting now
taking place.

- I had visited a few friends that live in a worn-down
area just beyond the Haifa Avenue, on the west bank of
the Tigris River. It was April 8 and the fighting was
so heavy I couldn't make it over to the other side of
the river. On the afternoon it became perfectly quit,
and four American tanks pulled up in position on the
outskirts of the slum area.

- From these tanks we heard anxious calls in Arabic,
which told the population to come closer.

- During the morning everybody that tried to cross the
streets had been fired upon. But during this strange
silence people eventually became curious. After
three-quarters of an hour the first Baghdad citizens
dared to come forward. At that moment the US solders
shot two Sudanese guards,

who were posted in front of a local administrative
building, on the other side of the Haifa Avenue.

- I was just 300 meters away when the guards where
murdered. Then they shot the building entrance to
pieces, and their Arabic translators in the tanks told
people to run for grabs inside the building. Rumours
spread rapidly and the house was cleaned out. Moments
later tanks broke down the doors to the Justice
Department, residing in the neighbouring building, and
the looting was carried on to there.

- I was standing in a big crowd of civilians that saw
all this together with me. They did not take any part
in the looting, but were to afraid to take any action
against it. Many of them had tears of shame in their
eyes. The next morning looting spread to the Museum of
Modern Art, which lies another 500 meters to the north.
There was also two crowds in place, one that was
looting and another one that disgracefully saw it

Do you mean to say that it was the US troops that
INITIATED the looting? [emph. added, rkm]

- ABSOLUTELY. The lack of scenes of joy had the US
forces in need of images on Iraqi's who in different
ways demonstrated their disgust with Saddam's regime.

But people in Baghdad tore down a big statue of Saddam?

- They did?  It was a US tank that did this, close to
the hotel where all the journalists live. Until noon on
the 9th of April, I didn't see a single torn picture of
Saddam anywhere. If people had wanted to turn over
statues they could have gone for some of the many
smaller ones, without the help of an American tank. Had
this been a political uproar then people would have
turned over statues first and looted afterwards.Home in
Sweden Khaled Bayomi is a PhD student at the University
of Lund, where he since ten years both teaches and
researches about conflicts in the Middle East. He is
very well informed about the conflicts, as well as he
is on the propaganda war.

Isn't it good that Saddam is gone?

- He is not gone. He has dissolved his army in tiny,
tiny groups. This is why there never was any big
battle. Saddam dissolved Iraq as a state already in
1992 and have since had a parallel tribal structure in

which has been altogether decisive for the country.
When USA begun the war Saddam completely abandoned the
state, and now depends on this tribal structure. This
is why he left the big cities without any battles.

- Now USA are forced to do everything themselves,
because there is no political force from within that
would challenge the structure in place.

The two challengers who came in from the outside were
immediately lynched.

Khaled Bayomi refers to what happened with general
Nazar al-Khazraji, who escaped from Denmark, and
Shia-muslim leader Abdul Majid al-Khoei. Both men where
chopped to pieces by a raging crowd in Najaf, because
they were perceived to be American marionettes.
According to Danish newspaper BT, al-Khazraji was
picked up by the CIA in Denmark and brought to Iraq.

- Now we have an occupation force in Iraq, that has not
said how long it will stay, not brought forward any
time-plan for civilian rule and not yet set a date for
general elections. Now awaits only a big chaos.