Accounts Differ Over Samarra Us

Accounts differ over Samarra’

The US military account of the events in Samarra’ to VOA is fuller than what we had before. Clearly this was a double bank robbery. The guerrillas are having to rob banks because their old cash hoards of Saddam dinars will become worthless on Jan. 15, after which only the new dinars will be legal tender.

Besides, common criminals appear to make up a significant number of the guerrillas, according to the US military database on the insurgents. What would come more naturally to criminals than to rob banks?

By the way, my reference to “fascists” in yesterday’s post regarded the Saddam Fedayeen, who battened onto the Iraqi people like vampires in the old days.

On the other hand, civilian Iraqis contest the US military account of what happened. It is not plausible to me that in such a shoot-out no guerrillas were killed, and the lack of their bodies in the morgue probably says more about the duty of a fighter to retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades from the scene rather than letting them be buried by the enemy with disrespect.

Military historian Tom Collier, a former Green Beret, sent me the following and permitted me to share it here with the proviso that I noted that it is pure speculation.

“I think there’s something fishy about the several firefights reported at Samarra in yesterday’s and today’s news. Do you see anything unusual about it? All that follows is just speculation based on suspicions.

— No US/Euro press were on the scene until after the fight ended, and so there are only the Army official and the local civilian accounts of what happened. How long after the firing ended did the reporters arrive? The reporters don’t [are embarrassed to?] tell us.

— The official account includes an enemy body count for the first time since when? Vietnam? Some oddities: — the body count shifted from 46 to 54 dead, w/o explanation. Are we back to kiting body counts? Are we back to “If it’s dead and it’s gook, it’s VC”? — “some” bodies are described as wearing the “black uniform” of the Saddam Fedayeen. What black uniform, with what insignia? How many of the dead were actually civilians, and how do we tell the difference? — “at least 18 of the attackers were wounded and 8 captured.” How do we know that? Were the 8 PWs among the 18 wounded? Where are the 10 wounded who were not captured, and who counted them? How come no civilians were reported killed or wounded in firefights outside downtown banks? — only 6 friendlies were wounded, which is not surprising for an armored forces, and the official account makes clear that their wounds were “not life threatening.” Meaning what? Maybe just the loss of an arm or a leg? Anyway, it’s good PR wording. — The forces attacked were convoys carrying new bank notes to Iraqi banks and were escorted by tanks and APCs. The enemy evidently knew of the their arrival time and place, erected some kind of barricades, and were in position to ambush the convoys. Could they have NOT known of the armor escorts? Would they have deliberately stood and fought with hand-held weapons against such a force?

— The accounts of local civilians, including hospital staffs, say that the numbers killed and wounded were not large and included civilians. All agree that there was extensive damage to [three?] nearby buildings from which the Americans says they were being fired at. Rubble and bodies were strewn around the scene according to the official account, but no reporters actually saw the bodies.

–While I hate to question M.Sgt Robert Cargie, it looks to me like the convoys drove into an ambush and immediately fired back massively and blindly, which is what they have been trained to do. Did they hold their position, move against the enemy, or try to break out and retreat? What did the hostiles do? It’s not clear; if they were smart, they fired and fled, and the locals then suffered the brunt of the US fire. If less smart, they may have stood and fought and never lived to fight another day.The new bank notes are presumably safe and sound and the ambushes have now been converted into victories for American firepower. One of the cable channels called it “a massive American offensive,” which brings to mind the Meuse-Argonne or maybe the Normandy breakout & pursuit. One of these days we may find out what really happened. Don’t count on it.”

Tom Collier

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