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Indie journalist: Iraq ‘heading toward a catastrophe’
“I neither read nor listen to corporate media drivel concerning Iraq…but today I wonder what they could possibly be saying to justify the failed occupation of Iraq on this horrible day…” writes independent journalist, Dahr Jamail, in his latest dispatch after a volley of killings between Sunni and Shiite prompted the head of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars to declare: “We are heading towards a catastrophe, only God knows when it will end, this is a warning from us.” Jamail comments: “There has been a low-grade civil war going on for quite some time-but now the veil has been ripped off by the statements made by Dhari. All Sunni mosques in Iraq will be closed for three days…an ominous symbol of things to come.” (Dahr Jamail)

At Dahr’s site:
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Below the fold, “Many people were working with the Americans, so I felt it would be ok”:

From Dahr’s Iraq Dispatch, May 19, 2005:

“Many people were working with the Americans, so I felt it would be ok.”

Her name is Ahlam Abt Al-Hassan. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of when she was shot twice in the head by member of the Mehdi army while waiting for a taxi to go to her job with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) in Diwaniyah.

After nearly three months of work searching women as they entered one of the US bases in Diwaniyah, she was paid a total of $475 from KBR. In return she has lost her eyesight, had to move from Iraq and can’t return because of threats from the Mehdi Army. Her ex-employers will not return any of her calls or requests for assistance.

The 25 year-old sits wearing dark sunglasses, her black hijab wrapped around her head with her hands resting in her lap as she tells her story inside an organization funded by a Saudi group who gives assistance to training blind Arab women.

“My two bosses at KBR, Mr. Jeff and Mr. Mark were very good and gentle with me,” she explains, “They told me it wasn’t dangerous to work for them.”

Living with her aunt and cousin, she had to work since she was the sole supporter.

“We needed many things, so I wanted the job,” she says softly, “Many people were working with the Americans so I felt it would be ok.”


[At] 7:30am I was waiting for a taxi as I always did to go to my job, and I felt as if I was thrown to the ground but I felt nothing else. …

Two bullets passed through her head, taking her eyesight before exiting.

“He took me to the hospital in Hilla,” she explains softly, “And when I was there I told people I worked for KBR. Someone at KBR told the people at the hospital they would come to visit me.”

But they never came.

After being transferred to two more hospitals in Baghdad, there was still no word from them.

“But then Mr. Jeff called by his translator after I was in Baghdad for 45 days, and Mr. Jeff told the hospital worker that I was in a hospital inside the Green Zone,” she tells me before holding out her hands as if to ask why. She raises her voice for the first time, “But I was not in the Green Zone!”

She had just had surgery on her injured cheek in an area where one of the bullets passed through, and was unable to speak on the phone. She had her friend tell her boss that she wasn’t able to talk because of the pain.

“After this, they have made no attempts to contact me,” she says. … Read all of her story

Update [2005-5-19 18:4:7 by susanhbu]:

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail on Living in Two Worlds

Dahr Jamail, an independent reporter from Alaska, covered our occupation of Iraq for much of 2004 and the beginning of 2005 before coming home early this year. As a “unilateral,” he was a distinctly atypical figure in Baghdad. Unlike reporters for major papers, wire services, and the TV news, he lacked the guards, vehicles, elaborate home base, tech support, fixers, and all the other appurtenances of an American journalist in the ever more dangerous Iraqi capital, a city now so filled with violence and explosions that the young blogger Riverbend recently wrote: “It is almost as if Baghdad has turned into a giant graveyard.” Unlike most American reporters, however, Jamail (gambling his life) refused to let himself be trapped in his hotel and so his reporting was of the (rare) outside-the-Green-Zone variety. With his Iraqi translator and friend, he regularly interviewed ordinary Iraqis rather than officials of various sorts.

Like many war veterans — military or journalistic — Jamail, who wrote on occupied Iraq for Tomdispatch while there, found the experience of coming home unsettling indeed. He recently returned to the Middle East and, as he was departing, wrote the following on his experiences in “the Homeland.” Tom

Coming Home

An Iraq Correspondent Living in Two Worlds

By Dahr Jamail

It isn’t an accident that, after 11 weeks, only as I’m leaving again, do I find myself able to write about what it was like to come home — back to the United States after my latest several month stint in Iraq. Only now, with the U.S. growing ever smaller in my rearview mirror, with the strange distance that closeness to Iraq brings, do I find the needed space in which the words begin to flow.

For these last three months, I’ve been bound up inside, living two lives — my body walking the streets of my home country; my heart and mind so often still wandering war-ravaged Iraq.

Even now, on a train from Philadelphia to New York on my way to catch a plane overseas, my urge is to call Iraq; to call, to be exact, my interpreter and friend, Abu Talat in Baghdad. The papers this morning reported at least four car bombs detonating in the capital; so, to say I was concerned for him would be something of an understatement.

The connection wasn’t perfect. But when he heard my voice, still so far away, he shouted with his usual mirth, “How are you my friend?” I might as well be in another universe — the faultless irreconcilability of my world and his; everything, in fact, tied into this phone call, this friendship, our backgrounds… across these thousands of miles.

I breathe deeply before saying a bit too softly, “I just wanted to know that you’re all right, habibi.” … Read all

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