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Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Unreported deaths in Iraq

Columnist Trudy Rubin writes about a few of the many deaths in Iraq that don't get reported:
Just over a year ago, my translator, Yasser Salihee, was shot dead by an American soldier. Salihee, a 30-year-old medical doctor and aspiring journalist, was working for Knight Ridder News Service to make extra money. He was driving home after a haircut when a U.S. sniper mistook him for a potential car bomber. He couldn't stop in time and was shot between the eyes.

I arrived in Baghdad right after Salihee died and told his story to several Iraqi officials. The reactions were astonishing. Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi told me that an elderly friend of his had just been shot dead by U.S. soldiers. Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman told me that he knew of 10 civilians who had been shot dead by U.S. soldiers. Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Samir Sumaidaie (recently appointed ambassador to the United States), complained bitterly to reporters that U.S. Marines had killed his unarmed 21-year-old cousin.

These cases came to light because the victims were well connected. But Salihee's death was investigated only after pressure from Knight Ridder. No one knows how many similar cases are never even reported. And armed civilian contractors there are notorious for shooting at Iraqi civilians with impunity.

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