backdraft | 17.10.2003 21:12 | World
He told The Independent: "Suddenly I saw the soldiers kick in a door and drag out an old man who screamed, 'Me no shoot! please, please mister.' The soldiers shouted, 'Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up!'
"They tied his hands behind his back and then, as he lay on the ground, one said: 'Keep his head still.' He slammed him on the head with his rifle butt again and again. Then the others kicked him. There was blood everywhere." US officers later admitted they were probably wrong about the old man, but said "these things happen in the heat of the action".
Iraqi leaders in the area say that while Paul Bremer, the head of the US civil administration in Baghdad, claims the guerrillas are an isolated remnant of the old regime, the soldiers assume the opposite. They assume all Iraqis are hostile and support the resistance.
In many cases this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since May, Haj Awwad Abidasad, a 75-year-old merchant, has been trying to get back $16,000 (£9,600) in Iraqi dinars and $4,500 in gold taken from his house by US soldiers. His son, Majid, a physiotherapist, was arrested and held for 63 days.
Mr Abidasad and his son have been told the money and gold were confiscated because a fedayeen, a pro-Saddam fighter, was found in their house, which they deny.
The Pest has a Name