One of my first meetings with Iraqis in early 2003 was at a town hall meeting in Al Dujayl. I was a medical service corps officer. As such, I wear a caduceus on my collar. We are sometimes mistaken for doctors by non-military types.
My interpreter and I were making our way through a crowd of Iraqis outside of the meeting hall. One man was very persistent. He actually took hold of my wrist and thrust a handful of papers in my face. I didn’t want to be late for my first meeting. (At that time, I was on US time, not Iraqi time.) My interpreter carried on a fast paced conversation with the man. As he did, I looked at the papers. They were yellow legal sized with two columns of Arabic on both sides. There were 7 front and back pages.
My interpreter told me that this was a list of people missing when Saddam imprisoned and murdered hundreds of people in this farming community. I spoke to the man and through my interpreter told him to keep the papers. I assured him that when we helped a new government takeover, we would need him and his evidence. We shook hands and I went to my meeting.
The more time I spent in Iraq, the more I learned about the things that had never been printed in our western media. It seems that in 1982, Saddam was leaving Tikit to travel south. As he was getting into his limo, a woman ran up and placed her hand on the side window leaving a colored hand print. Saddam immediately got out and got into another car. The caravan then traveled south to Baghdad.
As the convoy approached the highway section between Dujayl and Balad, Iraqis ambushed it. The car with the hand print was destroyed, but Saddam survived to carry out his vengeance on Dujayl. The mature date groves were destroyed. Many of the houses were totally destroyed to bare ground. I had noticed that there seemed to be two parts of the town an east and west. What had happened was that whole section was destroyed. Many people were murdered and some were taken prisoner.
The whole town was penalized. Instead of getting their food ration from Sal ah Din, the vendors were forced to go to Baghdad. The vendors were often robbed of the food supplies on their way back to Dujayl. I have no doubt the Sunni bureaucrats were tipping off their friends about the food and where it likely would be. Some of the food vendors were also killed and their trucks taken.
It was about 18 months later during my second tour in Iraq that I became involved in the Dujayl massacre. I was stationed in the US Embassy in Baghdad. After an exhausting day of shuffling papers and composing emails, I decided to go for dinner. As I was looking for a place to sit, I saw this attractive lady all by herself. So, I invited myself to eat with her. It turned out this young lawyer from North Carolina was part of a team gathering evidence on Saddam’s crimes. She was working with a team of lawyers dedicated to this effort. She was primarily looking into the Kurdish gassings and the Shia murders in the south. The difficulty that they were having is there was too much hearsay evidence and little eye witness accounts. (Saddam often killed whole families just for this purpose.)
I asked her about the Dujayl massacre. She had been told nothing about this event. I told her I could arrange Black hawk transportation to an army base near Dujayl. I could introduce her to local people who could find the eye witness to the massacre. Here team went and met up with some Civil Affairs soldiers I knew. One of the officers at the base had been a prosecutor of John Gotti. This young attorney had been taking notarized depositions from the local people for several months. He had no idea what to do with them, but he needed to gather the evidence because he felt duty bound.
The team was amazed with their good luck. They re-interviewed the people who had made the statements and secured their cooperation to testify in the criminal trial. The results of the trial are well known. The team later documented the gassing of the Kurds and the many of the murders of the Shia in the South, but the evidence obtained in Dujayl was rock solid.
All of us had some knowledge of the Dujayl incident. All of us wanted someone to do the right thing. Was it luck or a continuous effort to seek justice?
I wrote a comment for my local newspaper here in Colorado that addressed all of the left wing criticism of what we were doing in Iraq. I mentioned that this could have implications when we return home. It did and will continue. Good soldiers are seeking public office. Many are supporting the tea party efforts. LTC Allen West is only the tip of our impact to take our country back. I have even been elected as precinct chairman!
Randy recently retired from the Army with the rank of Colonel. His military specialty was environmental science and civil affairs. Randy has completed his doctorate of management and has become involved in local politics.