"UK/USA, It Means to Me: United to Kill US All"

An Ordinary Iraqi Speaks Out

by Gazwan Al Muktar in Baghdad
Interviewed by Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill

Dissident Voice

March 27, 2003


Note: This interview was conducted just moments after reports emerged that US/UK forces bombed Iraqi television and a market place in a residential neighborhood in Baghdad. Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman and correspondent Jeremy Scahill spoke with Gazwan Al Muktar, a retired engineer from his home in Baghdad.




Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! correspondent: We’re joined on the phone by Gazwan Al Muktar, a retired engineer and ordinary resident of Baghdad , something that you almost never hear on the US networks. Gazwan, we’re hearing reports that a Baghdad marketplace has been bombed. As many as forty plus people being killed--again, the reports are just coming in--as well about Iraqi TV being hit. What are you hearing in Baghdad right now, Gazwan Al Muktar?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Jeremy, we have been,--since the morning-- continuously bombarded since last night. We are being threatened this night with the severest bombardment since the start of the war. They have attacked the television station and the Iraqi Satellite Channel, which has resulted in the deaths of so many TV journalists and the TV technicians. Also they are threatening to bomb the--or attack-- the congregation of the TV satellite channels correspondents, or the international correspondents in the Ministry of Information. This is at the Press Center. And everybody, every journalist, is in a panic because this is a crime against the journalism. This is an unacceptable violation of the journalists who have immunity from being attacked or something, or bombarded. But apparently the US is intent is to continue bombarding so that no word will be coming out of Baghdad to show the severity of the bombing that we are being subjected to.


Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! host: Describe what happened to the building of the television station.


Gazwan Al Muktar: The antenna, the satellite channel building was totally demolished. There were hundreds of technicians and people working, and reporters, people working at the station who are right now in a hospital, many of them were killed. Also the Baghdad television station and the “Youth Television” [run by Uday Hussein, the president’s son] building have been bombed. And since morning there has been no television broadcast in Iraq. So we don’t really know what’s happening. I just talked to a foreign journalist this afternoon, and he is shaken up, because he doesn’t know what to do, because he is being again…the Ministry of Information and Press Center where all the journalists congregate…they think it’s going to be targeted tonight-


Jeremy Scahill: Gazwan—


Gazwan Al Muktar: If that is going to be targeted, many, many of the journalists would leave Iraq and no one would be reporting the severity of the bombing that is happening in Iraq.


Jeremy Scahill: Gazwan are you able to make it out of your house around the city. I know in the initial day of this bombing that we talked to you, you were able to get out and look at what was going on in the city. Are you able to do that now?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Jeremy, I just got back about half an hour ago. I took a tour in Baghdad. I went to Mansour, I went to Adhamiya, I went to Karrada. There are very few people on the road because again yesterday the US said that any vehicle moving on the road is a target, a legitimate target .. and that was coming out of the Centcom in Bahrain, in the briefing. So even right now civilians traveling on the road are being targeted according to the US Central Command and that is totally unacceptable-it’s a total—it’s a burden on the civilians who need to go shopping, who need to attend hospitals or to just mill around in the city seeing what’s happening or visiting relatives who are injured or ah, you know, going around their daily lives.


Amy Goodman: Gazwan Al Muktar, why don’t you just leave?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Leave where?


Amy Goodman: Leave Baghdad.


Gazwan Al Muktar: Every other town is being targeted. Every other town is being targeted It’s not only Baghdad that’s being targeted. Baccuba is being targeted, Mosul is being targeted, Tikrit is being targeted, Hilla is being targeted. God, the whole country is being targeted. What you are hearing is only that Baghdad is being targeted and Basra is being targeted. No, it’s Mosul and Basra, Kirkuk, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Samawa, Nasriya, the whole place is being targeted. Ramadi has been targeted on the western part of the country. So where do you go? You leave your house, where do you go? You go to another place where they’re gonna target you? If you leave your house what do you take with you? You take beds or you take kerosene or you take food or you take—you need a truck to carry your stuff because you are going to last for about a month outside, or maybe longer.


Jeremy Scahill: Gazwan—


Gazwan Al Muktar: I have taken my family outside Baghdad yes. And I talked to them over the telephone yesterday and they said there was bombing on the western part of the country.


Jeremy Scahill: Just to remind people, we are talking to Gazwan Al Muktar. He is an ordinary Iraqi who lives in Baghdad, a retired engineer. Gazwan, we’re hearing reports that US forces are now getting very close to Baghdad what kinds of preparations are people making for what Robert Fisk, the journalist, described as the potential siege of Baghdad when the US forces try to come into Baghdad?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Look, Jeremy, the first thing we know is that the war is going to last a long time. It’s not a cakewalk or as they envisioned it. We have already-- before the war started-- we planned on-- we stocked food, we stocked water, drinking water, we drilled wells and we bought generators and we had enough kerosene and we stocked on petrol, because we know that those are all going to be needed in the long war that is being-- that was going to be waged on us and now events proved this. So far the people have not be able to capture the Basra. Shelling the city of Basra and Basra is without water for four nights, four days and no electricity and no water. This is according to the Red Crescent and Red Cross society. Even Kofi Annan said the humanitarian situation in Basra is, is dangerous.


Amy Goodman: Gazwan Al Muktar—


Gazwan Al Muktar: We have started being bombarded in Baghdad, we will be bombarded shortly and it’s going to be a long term bombardment.


Amy Goodman: We’re talking to Gazwan Al Muktar and I want to say how rare this is in the United States to hear an ordinary Iraqi on the telephone being broadcast around the country and how difficult it is right now to get through to Baghdad. Another thing, it is very tough to see in this country is pictures of Iraqi casualties. For our television viewing audience, we are now showing horrific images of casualties. People who have survived and people who haven’t but have terrible wounds. This is being shown in other places, for example on Al Jazeera but not in this country. The Pentagon in the past has made it very clear that the Americans are a compassionate people and if they were to see these images, they would not want this to continue. Gazwan Al Muktar, what are you seeing on television. Are you seeing Iraqi casualties? Are you seeing US casualties?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Look, I have two nephews who are doctors, junior doctors in the hospital and I was just with them today. One of them was actually moved from one hospital to another hospital to attend for the casualties for the Iraqi Satellite Channel casualties and he tells me that the hospital was full.


Jeremy Scahill: Gazwan—


Gazwan Al Muktar: I just talked with him. I had lunch with him.


Jeremy Scahill: Gazwan, what will you do, if US forces try to come into Baghdad, you as a man, what are you planning to do?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Well ah—what I’m planning to do? I will pull up my rifle and I will shoot. And I will shoot at anybody who comes in. I’m a sixty year old man, but I am not going to let anybody, any foreigner tell me what to do or running my own country. This is a country I have spent all my life, trying to build something, to do something about improving the lot of the Iraqi people. Iraq is a wealthy country, Iraq has been, because of the sanctions, relegated to a third class country. You remember in 1961, that’s 42 years ago, the Iraqi government then, and it wasn’t the Ba’ath Party government, sent me to the States to study. I was a high school student. They sent me. Iraq has invested a lot of money in our education, a lot of time. The consecutive governments, all the governments of Iraq, and we are trying to build a country and you have ruined it. The US government is destroying everything. They destroyed it in ‘91 and we rebuilt it and they are destroying whatever we have rebuilt--


Amy Goodman: The US government says—


Gazwan Al Muktar: --for absolutely no reason.


Amy Goodman: The US government says it’s Saddam Hussein who is ruining it.

Gazwan Al Muktar: What?


Amy Goodman: The US government says it’s Saddam Hussein who is ruining it.


Gazwan Al Muktar: Well, they’re entitled to their view, but my view is that Saddam Hussein, was in 1984 was the President when Donald Rumsfeld came and shook his hand and said “he’s a nice fellow, we can work with him.” Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein that you people gave commodity credits to. So what changes is the perceptions of Donald Rumsfeld of what Saddam Hussein is. Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein that I have known in ’79 when he took power. So anything that changes, it’s the perception of Donald Rumsfeld. Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein that dealt with Ronald Reagan and the presidents before him. It’s now Bush, he doesn’t like Saddam Hussein and he had—they are ruining the country. Bush is entitled to say whatever he wants. But that doesn’t make him right.


Jeremy Scahill: This is the voice of Gazwan Al Muktar, something I have not seen on any of the networks. An ordinary Iraqi speaking live to Americans via radio and television. Gazwan we want to thank you very much for being with us. Do you have any final comments you want to make to this national audience in the United States right now?


Gazwan Al Muktar: Jeremy, everytime I look at the letters, UKUSA, it means to me: “United to Kill Us All.” And that, if you take the first letters of it it’s UKUSA and that’s how I feel. The two countries are united to kill us all, irrespective whether we support the government or we don’t support the government.


Jeremy Scahill: Gazwan—


Gazwan Al Muktar: The final thing, Jeremy, the final thing, I think, it’s the blind leading the blind. You are blind, I mean the US government is blind, and it’s led by another blind people who are the oppositions who are telling you that we will welcome the American soldiers. And you saw what happened in Um Qasr, Al Fao and Basra and Nassiriya. Those are the Shi’ite places where you think they should have welcomed the revolt against the government. But they did not. So it’s about time, you people open up your eyes and see what’s happening and understand the message and forget about the rhetoric.


Amy Goodman: Gazwan Al Muktar, thank you for being with us, and please be safe.


Gazwan Al Muktar: Thank you very much.


Democracy Now! is an investigative news radio journal that’s a vitally important antidote to the lies and deceptions of state/corporate media. The program is hosted by Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill. To find out what radio stations near you air Democracy Now!, or to listen to the program on-line, visit: www.democracynow.org





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