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(en) US massacred 1,000 Somalis

From Platformist Anarchism <platform@geocities.com>
Date Tue, 24 Mar 1998 14:22:01 +0000
Organization http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6170


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US massacred 1,000 Somalis
>From 'The Observer'
http://reports.guardian.co.uk/papers/19980321-16.html

Revealed: how trapped soldiers fired indiscriminately 
on crowds and used corpses as shields 

By Richard Dowden in Kampala 
Thursday March 22, 1998 

 As president Bill Clinton begins a six- country tour 
of Africa today, new evidence has emerged of how 
trapped United States troops indiscriminately fired 
on crowds of Somalis in Mogadishu in 1993, killing 
more than 1,000 - five times the 'official' number.

 In a dramatic new account of the battle in central 
Mogadishu, collated from hours of interviews with 
American and Somali survivors, Mark Bowden of the 
Philadelphia Inquirer has revealed that US troops 
abandoned their rules of engagement - to fire only 
when threatened by fire - and shot down every Somali 
they saw, including women and children. 

 It happened 10 months after US marines landed as 
part of a humanitarian effort to feed starving 
Somalis cut off by the civil war. On the afternoon of 
3 October 1993, a hot sleepy Sunday in Mogadishu, a 
group of 40 Delta Force, Special Forces and about 75 
Rangers set off to try to capture Somali leaders 
supporting General Mohammed Farah Aideed, the 
Mogadishu warlord, who were meeting in a house near 
the centre of town. 

 According to Bowden's account, US troops took 
hostages and murdered wounded Somalis and a prisoner. 
They also used the bodies of Somalis as barricades. 
Bowden also reveals that, far from the official 
version of the mission (that it was not intended to 
kill anyone) helicopter gunships began the ill-fated 
raid by firing anti-tank missiles into houses. 

 While Canada, Italy and Belgium all held inquiries 
into the excesses of their troops in Somalia and even 
put some of them on trial, the US has never held any 
public investigation or reprimanded any of its 
commanders or troops although Les Aspin, the then US 
Defence Secretary, resigned some time afterwards. Yet 
compared with what the Americans did that night, the 
excesses of other national forces were child's play. 
The revelations of the Mogadishu massacre come barely 
a week after America finally laid to rest the ghosts 
of the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam by awarding a 
medal to the officer who exposed the atrocity. 

 Bowden's account, now available on the Internet and 
to be published as a book in the autumn, threatens to 
start a new controversy in the US military. Despite 
the debacle, the commander of the mission, Major-
General William F. Garrison, took full responsibility 
for what happened, describing it as 'a success', 
while US personnel who died were all given medals, as 
were many of the survivors. Other key players were 
promoted. 

 At the time, the world's media concentrated on 
dramatic television footage of the naked bodies of US 
soldiers being dragged through the streets of 
Mogadishu, and the drama of a helicopter pilot taken 
hostage. The Somali dead were a sideshow, a bland 
figure, estimated at about 200. 

 Bowden, however, quotes Ambassador Robert Oakley, 
the US special representative to Somalia, as saying 
that more than 1,000 Somalis were killed. The 
incident occurred after the US-led peacekeeping force 
had handed over to a multinational United Nations 
force under the command of a Turkish General, Cevic 
Bir. 

 Neither he, nor the UN Special Representative in 
Somalia, a retired US Admiral, Jonathan Howe, had 
been informed about the Delta Force raid. Nor was the 
UN consulted when the US military decided to hunt 
down Gen Aideed. 

 Backed by 17 helicopter gunships, they stormed the 
building where the Somali leaders were meeting and 
took 24 prisoners. They planned to drive the three 
miles back to the US base but could not get out of 
the area. First one and then another Blackhawk 
helicopter was shot down. Without a back-up force the 
convoy ended up going in circles, trapped by hundreds 
of Somali gunmen firing AK47s and rocket grenades 
from rooftops or moving with the crowds. 

 Eventually it had to be rescued by units from 
Pakistan and Malaysia. But by that time they had been 
involved in their biggest fire-fight since the 
Vietnam War and their discipline and organisation had 
disintegrated. 

 Bowden describes the convoy trying to escape from 
the maze of streets in which it was hit by a hail of 
rockets and bullets at every corner: 'Some of the 
vehicles were almost out of ammunition. They had 
expended thousands of rounds. The back ends of the 
remaining trucks and Humvees in the lost convoy were 
slick with blood. Chunks of viscera clung to floors 
and inner walls. 

 "The second Humvee in line was dragging an axle and 
was being pushed from behind by the five-ton truck 
behind it. Another Humvee had three flat tyres and 
two dozen bullet holes. 

 "Seal Sgt Howard Wasdin, who had been shot in both 
legs, had his legs draped up over the dash and 
stretched out on the hood. Yet another Humvee had a 
grenade hole in the side and four flat tyres. "They 
were shooting at everything now. They had abandoned 
their new mission (to rescue the downed helicopter 
pilots). Now they were fighting just to stay alive as 
the convoy wandered into one ambush after another, 
trying to find its way back to base." 

 Dale Sizemore, a young Ranger, describes "blasting 
at everything they saw. Rules of engagement were 
off." Sizemore saw young boys, seven and eight-year-
olds, some with weapons, some without. He shot them 
all. 

 In one incident Rangers took a family hostage. When 
one of the women started screaming at the Americans 
she was shot dead. 

 In another incident a Somali prisoner was allegedly 
shot dead when he refused to stop praying out loud. 
Another was clubbed into silence. The killer is not 
identified. 

 Richard Dowden works for 'The Economist'
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