dh | 25.08.2003 22:09
Weapon Unleashed In Baghdad
Exclusive By Bill Dash
c. 2003 All Rights Reserved
A nightmarish US super weapon reportedly was employed by American ground forces during chaotic street fighting in Baghdad. The secret tank-mounted weapon was witnessed in all its frightening power by Majid al-Ghazali, a seasoned Iraqi infantryman who described the device and its gruesome effects as unlike anything he had ever encountered in his lengthy military service. The disturbing revelation is yet another piece of cinematic evidence brought back from postwar Iraq by intrepid filmmaker Patrick Dillon.
In the film, al-Ghazali, whose english is less than fluent, describes the weapon as reminiscent of a flame thrower, only immensely more powerful. It is unclear what principle the weapon is based on. Searching for a description, al-Ghazali said it appeared to be shooting concentrated lightning bolts rather than just ordinary flames. Drawing on his many years as a professional engineer, al-Ghazali speculates that radiation of some kind probably figures into the weapon's hideous capabilities. Like all men in Saddam's Iraq, al-Ghazali was compelled to serve in the Iraqi equivalent of the Army National Guard and fought in three wars over the past thirty-odd years. Via email, he told me he has seen virtually every type of conventional weapon employed in battle, and is well acquainted with their effects on people and machines, but nothing in his extensive combat experience prepared him for the shock of what he saw in Baghdad on April 12th.
On that date, al-Ghazali and his family sheltered in their house as a fierce street battle erupted in his neighborhood. In the midst of the fighting, he noticed that the Americans had called up an oddly configured tank. Then to his amazement the tank suddenly let loose a blinding stream of what seemed like fire and lightning, engulfing a large passenger bus and three automobiles. Within seconds the bus had become semi-molten, sagging "like a wet rag" as he put it. He said the bus rapidly melted under this withering blast, shrinking until it was a twisted blob about the dimensions of a VW bug. As if that were not bizarre enough, al-Ghazali explicitly describes seeing numerous human bodies shriveled to the size of newborn babies. By the time local street fighting ended that day, he estimates between 500 and 600 soldiers and civilians had been cooked alive as a result of the mysterious tank-mounted device.
In a city littered everywhere with burned-out civilian and military vehicles, US forces were abnormally scrupulous about immediately detailing bulldozers and shovel crews to the job of burying the grim wreckage. Nevertheless, telltale remnants remained as Dillon found when al-Ghazali later took him to the site. Dillon said they easily uncovered large puddles of resolidified metal and mounds of weird fibrous material that, al-Ghazali explained, were all that remained of the vehicles' tires. Dillon, who accumulated plenty of battlefield experience as a medic in Viet-Nam, and has since covered a number of wars from Somalia to Kosovo, told me that he has witnessed every kind of conventional ordnance that can be used on humans and vehicles. " I've seen a freaking smorgasbord of destruction in my life," he said, "flame-throwers, napalm, white phosphorous, thermite, you name it. I know of nothing short of an H-bomb that conceivably might cause a bus to instantly liquefy or that can flash broil a human body down to the size of an infant. God pity humanity if that thing is a preview of what's in store for the 21st century."
For Majid al-Ghazali, images of the terrifying weapon and its victims haunt his every day. In addition to his work as an engineer, he is also a highly accomplished classical violinist, occupying the first chair in the Baghdad Symphony. He is widely acknowledged as one of the preeminent violinists in the Middle East. Besides his family, one of his greatest joys is teaching at Baghdad's premier music conservatory. Unfortunately, the conservatory was utterly destroyed. Yet somehow, despite the war's horrors and its seemingly endless privations, he manages to maintain a remarkably hopeful outlook. He recently informed me that the Baghdad Symphony continues to exist and has been invited to perform in the United States in December.
Copyright ©2003 - Bill Dash
SEE ALSO: http://188.8.131.52/pub/bearden/iraq.htm