Friday, April 16, 2004

For those who are unaware of the fact that a great deal of American tax money is used to sustain (foreign) dictators here's a list of people who gained power with help from the CIA and still favour their supressive regime over a true democracy with the aid of money being given by the American government.

Ever heard of Don Black? A very scary person indeed and webmaster of a home for people who love to hate.

Here's a worrying transcript, concerning the real happenings in Fallujah by someone who's at the spot. It tells us what the regular media don't. Please sit down before you start reading...


The following material was recorded at 10.30 pm (local time) Sunday, April 11, 2004 at Radio Netherlands in Hilversum between journalists (MR) in Hilversum and Lee Gordon (LG) in Baghdad/Fallujah. Approximately 4 minutes of edited material from this recording has been broadcast (internationally) on "Newsline", Radio Netherlands on April 12, 2004.

MR Leigh, are you there?

LG Yeah, yeah, (laughs), I'm here, yeah go on Š

MR You sound like you are having a conversation with someone elseŠ

LG No, no, my colleague was just talking to me. Some Italian NGOs are fleeing after the Italian army attacked one of the Islamic leaders. The Italians are fleeing Iraq (laughs).

MR Okay, let's not confuse too many stories hereŠ (to engineer) Okay, okay, sorry.

LG So are we going now?

MR (to engineer) Are we recording now? Yes we are, yes we are.

LG Oh, fine. Fire away, fire away.

MR Well, first tell me what you have been doing for the last couple of days.

LG Let's see, where are we? Since Tuesday, ah, since Monday [5 April, 2004], sorry, I have been in and out of the Sunni Triangle area - Gharma and Fallujah - with some of the locals who have been putting up some fighting resistance to the US forces. Then ferrying the injured out of Fallujah to hospitals in Baghdad where they can be treated.

MR You said to me that you had been ferrying the injured for the last two days, is that correct?

LG The last, um, three or four days, uh we - my colleague and I - have been taking the injured out. There was an effectively a blockade thrown up around Fallujah and neighboring towns by the US Marines and Airborne forces and it's been impossible to get injured people out. On a couple of occasions they have allowed um-small convoys of ambulances to take people out. But, by and large, the only vehicles that have been able to get out are those that have snuck out by the back roads. In our case, we have been able to use our press accreditation to get some injured people out past the checkpoints.

MR Now, we have been hearing there is a cease-fire. Is there a cease-fire in effect?

LG No, quite the opposite. Effectively they are fighting. The US has snipers around the city from the West into the center, in houses all around the main streets and are picking off people on the streets, cars and ambulances.

MR Do you mean they are actually firing on ambulances?

LG Yeah, I mean, indeed. My colleague and I and some international volunteers from the United Kingdom and the US had to take over the responsibility for getting patients out of bomb damaged hospitals to one of the remaining make-shift hospitals, which is actually a converted doctors surgery effectively - because the ambulances were being shot at by the US forces. In fact, my colleague who is not very far away from me at the moment, was in one of the last functioning ambulances in Fallujah when he was sniped driving. I think they fired four or five rounds at it, just missing him, I think the ambulance was destroyed. When we left, that was this morning, that was the last ambulance - more or less - in Fallujah.

MR Why is it that journalist are having to take over moving injured and wounded people? What has happened to humanitarian aid?

LG There have been efforts to get humanitarian aid into the city on several occasions. Umm. However, it's been held-up at various checkpoints around the city. On Wednesday there was a large convoy of aid that was collected from all over Iraq and one or two neighboring Arab countries, most of which was turned back. My colleague and I were actually at the main gate to the city on the East side when the convoy arrived, convoy of food and medical aid. Convoy, I suppose, oh several score vehicles; trucks, cars, vans and most of it was turned back.

MR By the American Š?

LG By the American forces, yeah. There was some this m morning, which I think was sent several days ago, so some of it is trickling in, but for the most part there has been a blockade.

MR Because we are getting the news that there is a cease-fire and that there are camps being set-up for refugees fleeing from Fallujah, is it Š?

LG They told Š was it Thursday or Friday? Bear with me a bit because I have lost my bearings, we have been in and out of the city so much. On Thursday or Friday morning HummVees began going around the town and warning people, by loudspeaker, that they had until the end of the day - sunset - to leave or be killed. Of course that sparked a mass panic and families took to the roads, picked up what they could and threw it on top of carts, or cars or what they could carrying and began the long traipse along the road to Baghdad. They didn't get very far. Later that day, we ourselves were leaving to pick up some medical aid from Baghdad and we ran into a traffic queue that must have stretched for miles: trucks, cars, vans, carts, people still trying to leave the city. There was a blockade, despite warning for people to leave the city, the US forces then threw up a blockade further down the road, stopping people from leaving. We ended up picking up a pregnant woman, eight and a half months pregnant with her husband and mother-in-law. We picked her up about 5, 5.30 and she had been walking since around 10 o'clock that morning and was obviously in desperate condition and we managed to get her into a hospital in Baghdad. So that was the scene, if you can imagine, this huge queue of people desperately trying to leave the city wondering what would happen to them, what would happen to their homes, and all the while watching the sun slowly sink to the horizon and wondering if they were going to get out in time to save themselves.

MR What's the scene been like today? You said you left Fallujah this morning, what was it like?

LG The hospital I was at this morning had a normal night. There were Drones and Helicopters overhead scoping targets, shelling and bombing, mainly of houses in civilian areas. The wounded trickle in, but at a slow rate, it's what people can bring in. There aren't any ambulances so, if anyone has a car and can make it through the snipers, they can get someone to hospital where there are some, some, equipment, but not very much. I am now standing in the office of an Italian NGO trying to rustle up some medical aid and we have boxes of surgical equipment which they desperately need in Fallujah. They don't even have scalpels, few bandages, they don't even have anesthetics. On the question of the cease-fire, for instance, it was called on Friday just in time for noontime prayer, about 12 - 12.30. About a half an hour after cease-fire had been called I was standi9ng outside the hospital and I saw an Iraqi man of 28 years old who was an Iraqi nurse come from another city to try and help people in Fallujah, shot through the liver by a sniper as he was unloading an ambulance. He was dragged into the hospital and they tried to operate on him and sew up his wound. They had no painkillers, only the painkillers, um the parecetamol, that I could give them from my own bag. Um and we were told that unless we could get him to a hospital in Baghdad within an half an hour, he would die. Of course there was no way out of the city, and he did die.

MR You were telling me Š So where are ferrying wounded from now? You were saying that refugees fleeing into the desert was also being shot at? Is that true? Did I understand?

LG Yeah, there reports that some people fleeing from the town had been caught in some kind of cross fire and had been shelled. I don't know what the circumstances were. That would have been on Thursday or Friday when people began to flee in mass numbers. Since then, the city is more or less empty, the streets are more or less empty. I don't know how many people are left in the town or the city, I am not sure anyone knows. It was suggested a couple of days ago that about half the people had left - which would leave a couple hundred [garbled] Š people still in there. Um, men of military age are not being allowed to leave. Women, children, old people are being told they can leave, but that leaves an awful lot of people still trapped in the city. Children, there are many, many children, who are actually taking part in the fighting, such as it is. I mean I have seen boys I suppose of 10, or 11 years old, toting Kalashnikovs which are almost as big as they are. Um, so there are children still in there, there are certainly women still in there - they continue to trickle into the hospital. I suppose there are families that just couldn't leave for one reason or another.

MR So what is you want to do Š what are you going to do now?

LG Well our plan is to go back in and we will continue to try to get people out. Um, and to try to get medical aid back in. I am not sure there is much more we can do. You know, at the moment, bar one chap from Al Jazeera, there are no journalists in Fallujah and the um, US forces know that and I suppose they have a free hand to um, to carry out their operations without worrying about international scrutiny. There are all sorts of horror stories emerging; entire families being shelled in their houses, um bodies being mutilated. One can never tell, you know, one can never tell if it's entirely true if one is not in a position to check on the details in that sort of situation. What I can tell you is that there are numerous, numerous horror stories that are emerging in the hospitals as people trickle in for treatment.

MR You mean things committed by the American forces?

LG Umm, yeah, unfortunately, yeah.

MR Do you have the feeling that American commanders are in control of their forces there?

LG You know it's incredibly difficult to tell. Just moving about is, is Š literally just stepping out of the hospital is hazardous. There is one sniper that has been positioned a few hundred yards from the hospital on the main street, for the last few days.

MR An American?

LG Yeah, of course, yeah. So at the moment there are snipers in houses all around the center of Fallujah. Marines are positioned in houses just west of the center, so just moving about is extremely dangerous. Drones, unmanned aircraft, can be heard overhead, and helicopters at high altitudes spotting for targets. So people aren't keen on moving about, so gathering information about what is going on, outside one's own immediate neighborhood is extremely difficult.

MR Why do you think they won't let any of the men of military age out?

LG You know, I think the purpose of the, of the attack on Fallujah has been much more a question of "shock and awe" to borrow one of the American military phrases, than any clear strategic reason. Obviously in response to the butchery of the 4 US people in civilian clothes in Fallujah the other week. I suppose the purpose is to crush the resistance that been operating in Fallujah since the beginning of the occupation. And, most of the people, or many of the men, will be prepared at some point to join the resistance. So, I suppose it's let's give em a bloody lesson.

MR You were embedded with the mujahideen for a couple of days in Fallujah, um just outside Fallujah, do you think they are going to give up because of what the Americans are doing?

LG Actually, the opposite happened. The Š. From what I have seen with my own eyes, the battle has been going one way and the other. I have seen numerous American casualties. The road from Baghdad to Abu Ghraib and to Fallujah is littered with destroyed military vehicles. This morning I saw a destroyed US tank just outside Abu Ghraib, there were half a dozen military trucks: ammunition trucks, transport trucks, burnt by the side of the road. Mainly by the Abu Ghraib area which is now in the hands of the Iraqi resistance forces. Um, the town of Gharma, which is just outside of Fallujah, has been assault for the last few days hasn't yet been captured by US forces. There have been reports, and again it's impossible to verify these things, there are reports of several hundred US casualties, um around the Fallujah area. Now, these are reports coming from doctors, NGO doctors working in Fallujah and I don't know how accurate they are. But, when I spoke to one of the NGO doctors on Friday working for an Italian organization he told me that in his hospital he had seen 200 - 250 Iraqi casualties and he estimated from reports coming in from the areas that there were up to twice as many US casualties around the Fallujah area. Now, one can never tell, but what one does know is that Š What one can tell from simple observations, is that there have definitely been significant numbers of US casualties. How many? I don't know.

MR You said to me, at one stage earlier, that this was all building up to something big tonight. What do you think is going to happen tonight?

LG It was today, I think. There was a huge push through Fallujah today, I think, and it may well continue through this evening. When we left this morning two of my colleagues, a British woman and an American man who had volunteered to help the Iraqis by manning the ambulances were evacuating some families who were trapped in an area under US control, um, after they being shot at by the troops they engaged in a parlay and evacuated the families. In the process of which they learned from the troops that there was a major push through the town due this afternoon. Of course I wasn't there, we had to evacuate some severely injured and dying people, um victims, that were described by doctors in the Italian, the Italian coalition hospital, as suffering from wounds consistent with cluster bombs or anti-personnel bombs.

MR How many people have you ferried out?

LG Let's see we took out Š uh 14 today; a kid who had half his face shot off, a boy of four who had his arm and leg blown off, a pregnant woman, some Š there was a man, a dying man, whose leg had come off Š I suppose about 18, 19 people. You know we are working from a car, we have one old battered Japanese saloon, we managed to get a hold of a bus, um which we took out yesterday. But we are now down to our last 20, 27 dollars so I think we will be back in the car. So, you know, we take what we can.

MR You are going to go back in now?

LG Yeah, yeah, we have to - the place has been cut off and we are the only people that can get in and out through the US checkpoints using our press accreditation.

[Note from MR - It was Leigh's intention to call from Fallujah to give a report when he had snuck back in, he was unable to do so. However, we did have another, short interview on Monday night when he was just outside of the town. That transcript will follow.]

My son and I spend the Easter-weekend in the city of Lochem, near Zutphen and had a very nice time there.

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