Eyewitness Account of Jaisani Attack: Al Bayati Thamer Mahdi Salih Al Bayati, a 35-year-old engineer, lives in Jaisani village and witnessed the attack.
NPR logo Eyewitness Account of Jaisani Attack: Al Bayati

Eyewitness Account of Jaisani Attack: Al Bayati

Thamer Mahdi Salih Al Bayati, a 35-year-old engineer, lives in Jaisani village and witnessed the attack.

Following is a transcript of his account of what happened:

Could you tell me what happened exactly? If you are an eyewitness, you should have witnessed all details, so tell me.

Before telling you what happened, let me tell you something about Jaisani village. It is a small village of five kilometer size. It witnessed three attacks by al-Qaida. The last attack, Iraqi army managed to face then push back the terrorists from the areas surrounding Jaisani village. This is why watching points were set up, made of Jaisani people.

The checkpoints were both national police and regular people affiliated to Diyalla support council authorized by [the] Iraqi government, by prime minister himself. When such checkpoints get harassed by Americans, the support council would help in identifying these checkpoints to Americans and end harassment.

What happened exactly is that — on Friday night at Oct. 5 at 1:40 a.m. — one of the checkpoints noticed weird movement 25 meter away from it. It was dark. Depending on the sound, it was clear that there was a ghost moving.

The guards shot two rounds at the ghost, which was moving at nighttime. The ghost responded by throwing a hand grenade at the checkpoint. Then a heavy fire was opened at the checkpoint by machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, which burned one of the houses. The village sons expected a fourth attack by al-Qaida because the direction of the attack was diagnosed as a terrorist end by American and Iraqi forces.

The whole area hurried up to help out their sons in the checkpoint and to face the expected attack by al-Qaida. At this moment, a heavy random bombing was launched by American jet fighters through missiles and explosive bombs. When exploding, they give shining colors but waste tens of people between killed and wounded.

The bombing lasted for one hour approximately. When the bombing was over, we rushed to check our sons. We found them as martyrs or what was left of a martyr — a head, hand and a chest. We were collecting their parts.

Wounded people were dying on the way to hospital. Especially considering our village besieged by terrorists, the main road was blocked four months ago [and] no power since four months ago. Both Iraqi government and American forces know this, so we are forced to use a dusty road of 20 kilometers to reach the center of the city.

We managed to take our wounded people to Al Kalis Hospital. Four of them were dead, martyred on the way to hospital due to the long distance.

We did contact the American forces located in Kalis during daylight. They said that they had no knowledge of the accident. The Iraqi government in Kalis had no knowledge about it. Operations center in Kalis had no knowledge. The American commander in Diyalla, Beterland, had no knowledge about it. [It was] just like an outside American force came to area and conducted the operation.

We were surprised on the second day. At 8 or 9 a.m. by Cpt. Alston, spokesman of American forces, stating about the so-called Iranian revolutionary guard affiliate in the area.

The area is five kilometer size and people living there since more than 200 year ago. People know each other well as you know your own brother. To have such distinguished figure, to have such distinguished activity is.

If you cook today [a] certain meal, your neighbor would know what you are cooking. So nothing to be hide in a village of five kilometer size.

So such allegations are mere false allegations through which they try to justify the brutal act they have done.

So you mean that when the shooting took place and villagers rushed to help out their sons, everyone thought it to be al-Qaida attacking? But then it appeared they were Americans.

Later in the morning, I went myself. Whether you have seen the tape on Al Forat satellite channel or not. I myself went to this area, which [is] considered as a forbidden area because we would be exposed to enemy fires, terrorists' fire. Even though, I took the risk and went over there to find the American helmets left there [and] to find the sort of ammo used only by American army. It was left there and the traces of American boots that you may recognize among all world's armies.

All signs show traces of American soldiers?

Traces of American soldiers. We have pictures and CDs to send you at any e-mail. We are ready.

You mean pictures of killed American soldiers?

No, a helicopter landed and picked them up, so we do not know if there were casualties or not. We only found the traces of the American army. They use certain sort of weapons. If you have observed, it which is different from all other world's weapons. Iraqi army uses Kalashnikov; Britain uses another kind of weapons; but the America army uses a rifle which only Americans got it.

You mean you found American weapons, rifle on the ground?

On the ground, left by the American army, a sunglasses was left by an American soldier. A helmet of one soldier was left.

Could you describe to me the scene exactly? When you went there, tell me exactly what your eyes had seen.

I myself held the sons of my own village, by my own hands, because [they] depend on me in such cases. I held martyrs. At the beginning, they were 20 martyrs and a woman. The total was 21. On the way to hospital four died. A woman died in the hospital, so the total reached 26 martyrs including two women. Regarding the wounded people, they are 32 ... including six disabled ones like cut off leg or hand and we have a woman who is in coma till now, her nerves are not functioning.

So the area is a residential area where people live?

Yes a residential area, innocent people. [One house was] a widow house, [where] a widow who lost her son because of terrorists [lived]. Her son who was a doctor at the university technology. In the recent battle, she lost two of her sons. She also died. Her son's wife now in coma, breathing only with no signs of life. A whole family was eliminated.

What was your reaction and people's reaction when you and families saw such scenes? What were you thinking of?

Immediately we wrote a protest petition to Americans. I addressed directly the American commander in Kalis. I told that what happened today is the same as what happened to you on Sept. 11 in New York. The same doer, which is the American forces, let the American politicians review their policies. This is the reaction. The reaction is that American forces in Iraq came to kill, not to help

People, mothers, fathers and wives when seeing their family members in this way, whom they blamed? Americans or al-Qaida or someone else?

They blamed their luck, which made them fall in the American hands, which helped them to get rid of Saddam but fell in the American hands. But to ask me to describe how the night was? I swear to God, I cannot talk about that scene. Arabic language is helpless to find a word to describe what happened at that night, screaming and lamenting.

Now I have 57 widow[s]. 200 orphan kid[s] without any help.

All of them because of that bombing?

No, but the result of four months [of] events. We got this number as a result of four months' action. Three attacks by al-Qaida. The last attack by al-Qaida, we lost 12 persons. This American attack we lost 26 person. If al-Qaida had attacked us, it would be more merciful than Americans.

So your area was a target for al-Qaida and you were defending yourself only?

Yes, we were answering al-Qaida attacks. Depending on God in the first place then through our harmony as Shiites and Sunnis, it is not a sectarian issue. We have Sunni families in the area even though the majority are Shiite.

During the attacks of al-Qaida, the Americans were bringing water to us. When the attack was over, we thank them for this since we had no water. The Americans were aware of (al-Qaida) and they brought the power for two hours. Then it was cut by terrorists also. Even the American commanders in Kalis were saying that they do not feel safe except when they be in Jaisani area.

This was the kind of relation between Americans and Jaisani people. But after the accident took place, no, the picture is different now to Jaisani people.

What do you consider Americans now? How do you look at them?

We made many demands to American forces and we put everything in the Internet. We gave out demands to all honorable people who may reach our voices.

Our demands are not to treat equally the dirty criminals who came from behind the borders and the honorable Iraqis who are defending their lands.

Captain Alston, the American captain, says that they killed 25 criminals. The killed ones were not criminals but the one who killed them is the real criminal because those were killed defending their home and honor.

The killed ones were people living in an area and the killer is an intruder.

When you contacted the Americans — explaining to them the real picture telling them that women and elderly men were killed, not Iranians — what was their reply?

Since that date till now the doors were closed and we fear another strike. They say that their info are definite regarding such person, [an Iranian], to the degree that we told them, 'If you are sure about him, so come over and detain him. Tell us about him, and we will turn him in to you.' But it was futile, mere false allegations. The American forces were deluded in this issue, as we see it. Silence was their only reaction.

What about Iraqi government? What was its reaction?

If you mean prime minister council, nothing from their end was released. No condemnation, no investigation nor an official statement. Nothing by Iraqi government, despite the fact that we reached the head of prime minister office personally.

If you mean the Iraqi parliament, it was only Dr. Ali Al Adeeb. Two days ago, [he] brought up the issue before the parliament. Then the parliament, at last, referred the case to the investigation and follow-up committee. Then, we may check what is going to happen.

What about compensation you asked for? What did the Americans say?

The demands petition we had included [that] American forces to apologize to Jaisani people. Second, give compensation to victims families whether life or material casualties. Third, American government should produce an explanation to what happened, to do investigation immediately. We demand to know the end which gave such false info to Americans, to understand why they did it. The last demand was Iraqi government and American forces to prove that they have come to help out, not to kill.

Whom do you think gave false info to Americans? Or maybe it happened because the U.S. soldiers came under fire only?

Those who did the attack were only six American soldiers. All the traces show a force made of six persons, no more. It is something to be found only in the American commandos movies [that only six soldiers detain a guy]. Reality on ground tells you [that] they would bring 20 Humvees and a sky full with airplanes to detain one person only. This is why such force had a certain aim, a hidden aim. Only American intelligence may answer what the aim was.

To consider it by mistake, no. It was a prepared thing to provoke the checkpoints. Then to pull Jaisani people to the death area, where they be in an open field with farms only then American airplanes to bomb them. This is what happened.

Regarding who gave such false info? We say there is a kind of imbalance in Diyalla. There is one place which gives info to Americans called joint operations center. In the past, we had one Sunni and one Shiite guy in this center. The Shiite guy was killed. His name is Ahmmad al Temimi, who was killed one week before our accident in the suicide bombing that targeted the reconciliation meeting in Baqouba. Even the head of police was killed, governor deputy and governor were wounded.

Sheikh Ahmmad Al Temimi was killed in this accident, so the Sunni guy remained alone in leadership. I'm going to tell you his name and I wish you put his name on TV. His name is Abdul Hussein Al Zubaidi, Diyalla governing council member. Formerly he was a mosque servant in Jaisan Al Imam area. Then he converted to Wahabbi sect, under the care of the Muslims youth society located in Mansour area, backed up by Saddam Hussein personally in the past.

He is the one who created sectarianism in Diyalla. He is the one who has relations with Abdulla Al Jubouri, Diyalla former governor. Both have relations with the terrorist Iranian Mujahideen People Organization located in Kalis area.

Because the Iraqi army managed to push back, the terrorists groups which Sunni population make their majority of them and because those Sunnis got family relations with this guy Abdul Hussein, known as Abi Suhaib. So this strike was a kind of revenge by him, but we hope God to help us.

So you, as eyewitness. deny the American allegations of Iranian affiliate in the area?

Let them produce any evidence if they can. We are ready. The martyrs, all of them from Jaisani area holding Iraqi nationality. No one coming from across the borders at all. All of them are Iraqis and no militia found in Jaisan Al Imam, even no Shiite militia found in Jaisan Al Imam.

There are allegations that Mahdi army fighters do exist in the area and the Iranian guy was with them. How do you comment on this?

My comment is that any power on ground adopting fighting al-Qaida. If Sunnis, it would be called the 20th Revolution Battalions, and if Shiite immediately it would be called Jaish Al Mahdi, while it got nothing to do with Mahdi army. Jaisani people are in Jaisan Al Imam area. Diyalla support council and Iraqi government were giving help only. Iraqi army and police fought back the terrorists.

When you took the martyrs to bury them in Najaf, what was their families look like? Could you describe them to me?

The feeling was praying to God, asking his help. The mothers — after tearing out their clothes and beating the heads [and] throwing dust on the heads — were saying: 'God is greater than America.'

If you check with the families now, you would find them blaming this guy Abu Suhaib, Abdul Hussein Al Zubaidi because he was involved in this case and there are evidences on this.

By the way, he is wanted by Kirkuk court with charge No. 406, deliberate murder. But no one implements the court decision because Abdul Hussein is a friend to the American forces.

What are you going to do now?

Two days ago, the American forces cleared all the IEDs emplaced in Jaisani village. Way then checked the checkpoints of Jaisani village, then took pictures for Jaisani people to issue them badges to avoid targeting them in the future. But the painful thing is that it is clear now the shortage in Jaisani people. Jaisani area, which got long borders and surrounded by terrorists. If you check Iraq's operations center, you would find Jaisani marked in red color, which means it is surrounded by terrorists.

Iraqi government promised to send forces to Jaisani Al Imam or at least on the way or the surroundings of Jaisani Al Imam area. But these are mere promises.

But for Jaisani people, we say that if men of 20 year old and higher were doing guarding job in the past, now people from 12 year old and higher will take part. Moreover, even women now are ready to defend Jaisani area. We are ready to die for Jaisani.

Do you think that this American strike made it easier for al-Qaida to attack you? Is al-Qaida more capable now?

They might be motivated now, maybe. They might think of attacking the village again. Especially Jaisani is located as a spearhead, according to geography, protecting all other Shiite villages along the Tigris river border till reaching Baghdad. Al-Qaida tried its best since four months ago to control this area — to achieve its goal in being close to Tarmiya area and lands belong to Salah Al Deen Province.

They might think in this way, but I tell them through your channel, that they are wrong. Because the Almighty Allah says in the holy Quran [many small groups did conquer bigger groups through God's will].

Thank you.