Insurgents Capture US General --Beat, Suffocate to Death
26th January, 2006
A U.S. military spokesperson has condemned Iraqi insurgents as "barbaric thugs," after the scarred body of a senior U.S. military officer was discovered today in a house in Baghdad.
The apparently badly beaten remains are those of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey R. Wilkinson, Columbus, Oh. of the 18th Airborne Division, who disappeared with two other soldiers four days ago in Baghdad.
The two soldiers captured with him are now free after a routine house search patrol in the city caused the insurgents to abandon their captives and flee. According to the soldiers accounts, Maj. Gen. Wilkinson was badly beaten over a number of days, before being asphyxiated, as insurgents attempted to elicit from him details of U.S. security structures, operational plans and procedures.
The three had become separated from fellow members of a patrol over the weekend, after being lured into a courtyard by the apparent sight of an Iraqi woman caught in a distressing childbirth. They were quickly overpowered by around a dozen insurgents who sprang from hiding places. Under a news blackout, search parties had been scouring the north-west of the city for days before an unrelated routine patrol scared off their captors.
"We utterly condemn the brutal actions of the barbaric thugs who murdered Maj. Gen. Wilkinson," US military spokesman Tim Keefe said in the capital, Baghdad. "They respect neither human dignity nor any civilized code of wartime military conduct. A loyal officer had been killed in cold blood by mere low criminals."
The U.S. military say a preliminary examination revealed many large bruises all over general's body and at least five broken ribs, which would have been painful and would have made walking and even breathing very difficult. Marks consistent with cords were found on his wrists, ankles and around the neck. A formal autopsy had yet to determine cause of death, but the accounts of the soldiers indicate the general was suffocated during the course of his last interrogation by insurgents.
HUNG OFF ROOF
The two soldiers recounted the harrowing details of their incarceration to journalists in a briefing held in the fortified Green Zone earlier today. Both were physically assaulted a number of times during their captivity, but neither was badly injured. They were held in the same room as the general at many times, but they say the insurgents had focused their attention of the senior officer.
"They would come in and hold Maj. Wilkinson down while two or three of them beat him about the body," Staff Sgt. Dennis Smith told reporters. "It would last a few minutes and they would return a few hours later and do it again. "I think it was the second or third day he said to me he thought they were going to kill him," Smith said.
"He was naturally quite scared," he said. "I could see the fear in his eyes. They had taken him up on the roof earlier and he told me they hung him over the edge and threatened to drop him off."
"They put him through a living hell," said Smith, who had to pause a number of times during the briefing, distraught and unable to continue.
The other soldier held with Maj. Gen Wilkinson, Spc. Peter Scott confirmed the grueling ordeal of the captured officer.
"They took him into another room for the serious beatings," he said. "I could hear his screams and thuds, then silence."
"He told me they had tied him up and put a sack over his head", said Scott. "Then two or three of them would sit on him and they would cover his mouth so he could not breathe."
"When the patrol found us, we discovered him like that in the next room." Scott said. "He was dead. I can't imagine what it must be like for him, or for his family now. My heart goes out to them. The way he died will haunt them forever. Nobody deserves to die like that"
US forces are still engaged in house to house enquiries in the area where the three were held, in an effort to track down or identify the captors. They fled just minutes before the patrol arrived at the three-storied house where the U.S. general meet his death. But so far their enquiries have been fruitless.
"It's very unlikely that the people who carried out these inhuman acts will ever be brought to justice", admitted US military spokesman Tim Keefe. "But we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to find them and make them fully accountable for their brutality."
A White House spokesperson reiterated that commitment, but declined to elaborate in detail.
"Out of respect for the family of the deceased we will not be commenting at length, said Scott McClellan. "But, I think that the facts in this case speak volumes about what is really going on in Iraq and why we will be there for quite some time to come."
The above fictional account of the capture and brutal treatment of a senior US officer is based on the published allegations of the circumstances and death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, formerly of the Iraqi Army. The details of the interrogation of the US officer are based on the treatment of this former senior Iraqi officer at the hands of the US military. Our "photograph" of Wilkinson is a constructed photo montage.
The purpose of writing the above article was to enable us to view the actions of the U.S. military in Iraq without judging them through the cultural lens of our own bias. I hope it makes clear the barbarity of U.S. policies --which are not excused in any way by the actions of "enemy" forces. The same logic applies as aplied to inhuman acts by any of the participants in World War II.
I hope this also makes clear why such acts --which sow the seeds of a longer conflict costing needless lives lost on both sides-- are in truth ultimately counterproductive and represent a failure of military and civilian command.
26th January, 2006
Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, shown with his grandson in a family photo, died last November in American custody in Iraq.
Denver Post staff columnist, Jim Spencer has written the best mainstream media account of the nature and implications of these events and the ludicrous sentence handed down to Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. That penalty: a derisory recommended forfeiture of $6,000 in salary and confinement to barracks except to work and worship.
If torture is standard, we're in for it
By Jim Spencer, Denver Post Staff Columnist
Every American should be forced to see the autopsy pictures of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush now on display at the trial of Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr.
Welshofer is charged with murdering the Iraqi general during a November 2003 interrogation. But what's playing out in a Fort Carson courtroom is a nation's shame, not just an individual's.... http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3412267