Child insurgents: victims or perpetrators?

Another murder mystery from America’s favourite sandpit: a McClatchy website reports that “American soldiers opened fire and killed a 12-year old boy after a grenade hit their convoy in Mosul on Thursday”. Did the US military mistake a pre-pubescent child for insurgents, as friends of the boy believe?

Another murder mystery from America’s favourite sandpit: a McClatchy website reports that “American soldiers opened fire and killed a 12-year old boy after a grenade hit their convoy in Mosul on Thursday”. Did the US military mistake a pre-pubescent child for an insurgent, as friends of the boy believe? Or was it, as the US military spokesman stated, a case of “insurgents paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtedly placing the children in harm’s way”? Can this mystery be solved without a psychic medium?

Eye witness Ahmed Iz-Aldeen, 56, said the person who threw the grenade was not a boy, but a man in his twenties. Reuters reported Iraqi police statements that the boy, Omar Musa Salih, had not been involved in the grenade throwing. “A 12-year-old child was killed by U.S. soldiers’ random fire” was the line Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Iraq decided to publish; “The incident occurred in Ras al-Jadah area, western Mosul, when the U.S. military opened random fire at pedestrians”, a security source told the news agency.

Jumping on the US-miltary-bashing bandwagon is easy to do, but they are a highly trained organisation; surely their protocols must leave little room for such errors? Just two months ago, another 12-year-old was killed, this time a little girl shot by the warning trooper aiming at a car speeding towards a police station.Col. Gary Volesky was left to express “his condolences to the girl’s family for the unfortunate accident” at another manifestation of fatal flaws in the system.

The killing of civilians is not always accidental; sometimes, it’s part of the job. Three years ago, CommonDreams.org reported that soldiers were under pressure to use extreme force in nearly all situations – regardless of danger to civilians. Darrell Anderson, a US marine and winner of a Purple Heart, recalled an incident in which a car, countaining two children,a man and his wife, sped past the checkpoint he was manning. When Darrell defied pressure from his buddies to shoot at the car, he was reprimanded: “My superior came over and said, ‘What are you doing’, I said, ‘Look, there’s children in the back, it’s a family, I did the right thing, it’s wrong to fire in this situation’. My superior told me: ‘No, you did the wrong thing, You will fire next time, or you will be punished, those are our orders'”. Darrell continues; “At traffic stops we kill innocent people all the time. If you are fired on from the street, you are supposed to fire on everybody that is there. If I am in a market, I shoot people who are buying groceries”.

Such a testimony of civilian killing is just one of many and Captain Todd Brown, Company Commander of the 4th Infantry Division, says, “You have to understand the Arab mind. The only thing they understand is force – force, pride, and saving face”. Emphasis on force. As George W. Bush was fond of saying – we’re dealing with “evil folks”, and military officials are sure evil comes in child sizes: “Coalition forces fired on two of three individuals positively identified as involved in the attack, killing one,who they later discovered was a 12-year-old boy,” stated the email regarding Salih’s death. The boy was found carrying less than $9 dollars worth of Iraqi currency, which McClatchy argues proves he was part of a new trend for insurgents paying children to carry out attacks. The United Nations has repeatedly called attention to the trend of using child insurgents in the Iraq war. Humanitarian news agency IRIN talked to one child insurgent instructor, who said “very small children unable to carry the weight of a weapon are instead taught how to use hand grenades and how to distract US soldiers before attacks”.

The US has promised to conduct an investigation into Salih’s death, but whether some sort of consensus will emerge from conflicting accounts remains to be seen. Until then the Salih, and children like him, falls into the incompatible categories of child and insurgent.

2 comments

  1. Wow, I swear my “Student Perspective” looked lot more like this one…

    Another murder mystery from America’s favourite sand pit: “American soldiers opened fire and killed a 12-year old boy after a grenade hit their convoy in Mosul on Thursday”, a McClatchy website reports. Is the $651.2 billion US military mistaking pre-pubescent children for insurgents, as friends of the boy believe? Or is it, as US military spokesman stated, “that insurgents are paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtedly placing the children in harm’s way”? Can this mystery be solved without a psychic medium?
    It’s easy to jump on the US military bashing bandwagon. Eye witness Ahmed Iz-Aldeen, 56, said he saw the person who threw the grenade – not a boy, but a man in his twenties. Reuters reported Iraqi police saying the boy, Omar Musa Salih, had not been involved in the grenade throwing. “A 12-year-old child was killed by U.S. soldiers’ random fire” was the line Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Iraq decided to publish; “The incident occurred in Ras al-Jadah area, western Mosul, when the U.S. military opened random fire at pedestrians”, a security source told the news agency.
    Surely some mistake? Is the US military being lax enough to kill 12 year old boys? Well, less than two months ago the US military sure was lax enough to kill a 12 year old girl, standing 100 metres behind a car speeding towards a police station. After the warning shots of a careless trooper , Col. Gary Volesky was left to express “his condolences to the girl’s family for the unfortunate accident” through the heartfelt medium of a US army press release.
    Not that the US has to be lax to kill civilians; sometimes it‘s part of the job. Three years ago CommonDreams.org reported that soldiers were under pressure to use extreme force in nearly all situations – regardless of danger to civilians. Darrell Anderson, a US marine and ’winner’ of a Purple Heart, recalled nearly shooting a family – two children, man and his wife – in a car that was speeding past a checkpoint. Darrell’s buddies urged him to shoot. Darrell refused. “My superior came over and said, ‘What are you doing’, I said, ‘Look, there’s children in the back, it’s a family, I did the right thing, it’s wrong to fire in this situation’. My superior told me: ‘No, you did the wrong thing, You will fire, next time, or you will be punished, that our orders’”, Darrell told a reporter; “At traffic stops we kill innocent people all the time. If you are fired on from the street, you are supposed to fire on everybody that is there. If I am in a market, I shoot people who are buying groceries”. Unfortunately, Darrell’s testimony of civilian killing is just one of many. But as Captain Todd Brown, Company Commander of the 4th Infantry Division, stated, “You have to understand the Arab mind. The only thing they understand is force – force, pride, and saving face”. Emphasis on force.
    Nevertheless, every story has it’s other side. As George W. Bush was fond of saying – we’re dealing with “evil folks”, and military officials are sure evil comes in child sizes: “Coalition forces fired on two of three individuals positively identified as involved in the attack, killing one, who they later discovered was a 12-year-old boy,” the email said regarding Salih‘s death. The boy was found carrying less than $9 dollars worth of Iraqi currency, which McClatchy reported marked a new trend for insurgents paying children to carry out attacks. The United Nations has repeatedly called attention to the trend of using child insurgents in the Iraq war. Iraqi NGO The Iraq Aid Association (IAA) has also reputedly reported of working with child insurgents. Humanitarian news agency IRIN talked to one child insurgent instructor, who said “very small children unable to carry the weight of a weapon are instead taught how to use hand grenades and taught how to distract US soldiers before attacks”. Is 12 years of age prime grenade carrying age?
    The US has promised to conduct an investigation into Salih’s death. Will the US military be able to set the record straight without a really good Ouija board? Will it prevent the death of the next unlucky 12 year old? Time will tell. Until then Salih is left as a victim and an aggressor, an innocent child and a insurgent KIA.

    Suddenly the US army becomes “a highly trained organisation”, a police station becomes a petrol station (I’d love to hear a Nouse 999 call to a BP garage) a Col’s ‘heartfelt’ US army press release becomes a “manifestation of fatal flaws in the system”, and Captain Todd Brown’s racist comment about “the arab mind” becomes an argument! Why did Ouija board go, but psychic medium stay? And “falls into the incompatible categories of child and insurgent” – did you even read the last paragraph where the UN and IAA both stated the tragedy is that child and insurgent arn’t “incompatiable categories”? Ok, I cringe at “Unfortunately, Darrell’s testimony of civilian killing is just one of many” – it should be “Unfortunately, Darrell’s testimony of the US army killing civilians is just one of many”. But why get rid of the “unfortunately” and keep the awkward sounding “civilian killing”?! Is the death not unfortunate, or is some emotion just a bit too personal?

    Grow some balls Nouse, and stop sucking the life out of articles. Our CV’s won’t be blemished forever if what we write doesn’t send people to sleep.

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  2. Richard,

    I would suggest that criticising the organisation that publishes your articles quite so publicly reflects badly on you, not Nouse.
    Personally I found the edited version of your article clearer and stylistically better than the version you rather pettily pasted above, despite your assertion that ‘the life’ had been sucked from it.
    Perhaps if you have a problem with the editing of an article in future it would be a better idea to go directly to the editor, rather than attempting to undermine them online.

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