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Firas Al-Atraqchi: Zarqawi Be Damned

Zarqawi Be Damned

By Firas Al-Atraqchi

Nicholas Berg screamed. He screamed when he saw the sword brandished in the hands of one of his captors. He screamed when he was pushed down on the ground and his held pulled back, ready for the slaughter.

Nicholas Berg could not scream when the sword went through his neck. Within seconds, Nicholas Berg's head was cut off from the rest of his body. His severed head was then held by his captor, reportedly Abu Musab Zarqawi.

Gruesome. Disgusting. Merciless. Barbaric. Inhuman. The list of words to describe the video of independent contractor Nicholas Berg's execution can go on and on. When his family were told of the video, they collapsed on their front lawn. His father would later blame Coalition forces for detaining and then releasing Beg without ensuring his safe passage out of Iraq.

There is enough blame to go all around. The group who captured Berg - their nationalities remain unclear - claimed they were beheading him as retribution for the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners in US and British custody. "The dignity of the Iraqi prisoners can only be returned by blood...and souls..." went the statement from the group.

Some US lawmakers have blamed 9-11 for the torture of Iraqis claiming that such treatment could prevent terrorist attacks.

Iraqis are blaming the US for destroying, not rebuilding, their country. The US is blaming Saddam Hussein's WMDs, links to Al Qaida, and his disastrous human rights record for invading Iraq. The first two have since been found to be non-existent. The latter has been copied and mimicked by US interrogators seeking to break Iraqi detainees' resolve and making prison life "a hell".

The news from Iraq is gruesome indeed.

Subheading: Killing innocents in the name of Islam is the poison that is beginning to consume the Islamic nation.

However, it must be said that the beheading of Berg is the most despicable, most dishonorable, and most vile result of the war. An overwhelming majority of Iraqis I have spoken with couldn't agree more. I watched the video footage twice and saw the grimace, the shock, and the horror of Arab journalists and bystanders.

Reacting to the video, Egypt's Al Osbo's (The Week) magazine editor, Mostafa Bakri said the beheading will hurt the Iraqis in the long run.

"Such revenge is rejected. The American administration will make use of such crimes just to cover their real crimes against Iraqis," he told reporters.

Other regional columnists have admitted that the moral high ground which was lost by the Bush administration in the wake of the Iraq torture revelations has now largely swung against the Muslim and Arab world.

The horror and revulsion at the leashing, beating, and humiliating of Iraqis has now been replaced with the grueling images of the severed head. The reported video showing the alleged rape of an Iraqi girl by US servicemen will now be shelved, gone from the public psyche and replaced with the image of the severed head of what most likely is an innocent man caught in the web of violence that is Iraq.

The video of the beheading leads one to believe that Abu Musab Zarqawi, a man wanted by Iraqi and US authorities for having ties with Al-Qaeda and considered behind most attacks on civilians in Iraq, personally performed the beheading.

Really? Why wear a mask if you are announcing to the world that you did it? Who is Abu Musab Zarqawi? It doesn't matter at this point because the men behind the kidnapping and beheading of Berg will find no quarter with Iraqis, Arabs and/or Muslims.

Nevertheless, as condemnable and atrocious the beheading is, one must not lose sight of the atrocities that have been perpetrated on an almost daily basis in Iraq. A cycle of violence is now sweeping through Iraq like a merciless tornado in the US Midwest. US soldiers, Iraqi resistance fighters, mercenaries, civilian mercenaries and innocent Iraqi civilians are now caught in it and there seems to be no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. Not even a spark.

And a few weeks ago, the Bush administration was telling us Iraq is more secure, safer, and a growing democracy. Perhaps, if senior members of the Bush administration had been honest for a change, Berg may have never gone to Iraq. Iraq was never, repeat never, the rosy garden senior staff like Condi Rice claimed it was. The attacks in Iraq were never the works of "a few bad guys", but rather a systematic response and knee-jerk reaction to occupation, unemployment, insecurity, rape, pillage, plunder and a plethora of uninvestigated killings of Iraqi civilians at the hands of trigger-happy (and now we know sadistically perverted and maniacal) US soldiers.

Nevertheless, nothing justifies the murder, the atrocity committed against Berg. If Zarqawi's brave, brave men wanted revenge, they should have gone after military personnel or someone who had the ability to shoot back in their direction. Berg was killed like a hapless creature in a slaughter. And that is what happened to him - he was slaughtered. There was nothing noble nor vindictive nor calming nor redeeming in his murder. The dignities and honor of the abused and tortured Iraqis has not been reclaimed. In fact, Iraq as a country and Iraqis as a people have been dishonored by this renegade group of cowards who claim to follow Zarqawi.

The war in Iraq is wrong. The maiming, killing and torture of Iraqis is wrong. The presence of foreign troops in Iraq is wrong. The selling off of Iraq is wrong. The raping of Iraqis for intimidation and interrogation is wrong. But such wrongs cannot, do not, and will not be corrected by the barbaric killing of Berg.

To say such is war and war is hell is equally wrong. Some US columnists and radio broadcasters have claimed that notion when confronted with the horrors of the Iraqi torture debacle. Now, some Arab quarters are saying the same about Berg's murder. Some say that it is understandable that Iraqis have such resentment, bitterness and hate of US soldiers and staff. True, their hatred is understandable, but when it is translated into such wanton depravity it lacks any rational and sinks into the pit of unquantifiable and incomprehensible brutality.

Perhaps, there is little comfort in knowing that Zarqawi is not Iraqi and that his fighters and followers are disenfranchised Arabs who lack the courage and morality to question their own governments.

For the good of Iraq, these so-called foreign fighters must be rejected, dejected and ejected from Iraq. Iraqis have fought many wars over the course of a 7,000-year history. They certainly do not need usurpers, fanatics and mercenaries to claim they fight for the Iraqi people. That is an insult to the Iraqi people.

Zarqawi, whether you are Arab or not, Muslim or not, get out of Iraq. You are not wanted. If you are caught, Iraqi children will cut you down like the cowardly dog you are. Leave or be damned.


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