Westerner Should Visits Iraqi Resistance – INTERVIEW
Posted by musliminsuffer on April 28, 2009
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Westerner Should Visits Iraqi Resistance – INTERVIEW
In one of his final interviews, former president George W. Bush told ABC News Martha Raddatz that the war in Iraq was justified because of al-Qaeda. But Raddatz said that wasn’t “until the U.S. invaded.” Then Bush responded with “So what? The point is that al-Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand… we have denied al-Qaeda a safe haven because a young democracy is beginning to grow, which will be an important sign for people in the Middle East.”
But how much of a presence does al-Qaeda really have? Very small according to Jurgen Todenhofer, author of the new book, Why Do You Kill? The Untold Story of the Iraqi Resistance. Todenhofer was a member of the German parliament for 18 years and spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria political parties on development aid and arms control. He has visited the Middle East several times over the last 50 years and has written two best sellers about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In his latest book, Todenhofer travels to Iraq as an unembedded journalist and gives an inside look at what is the Iraqi resistance. His firsthand observations reveal the myths and realities behind the resistance fighters and the terrorists and Todenhofer tries to set the record straight by talking directly with those who fight the occupation.
Todenhofer is currently on an American speaking tour and I caught up with him in Washington, DC where he was giving a talk.
What are the major myths associated with the Iraqi resistance?
When you read about Iraq, 99% of the articles you read are written by embedded journalists. If I went to Iraq as a professional journalist, I would also be embedded. As a private man, I tried to show the other side. We always see the side of how the Pentagon wants to show Iraq because they will never bring a journalist to Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, or other places the Pentagon doesn’t want to show. You always see what the Pentagon shows you. Which is OK. I don’t criticized that. This has always been the way reporters write about a war. I try to show the other side.
I went to Iraq a year and a half ago and met with the resistance. They told me all they wanted because there were no machine guns, officers, or U.S. soldiers around. I think it’s important to listen to the other side. When I was there, I felt ashamed. I had the impression that because we don’t see the other side, we don’t know enough about the misery of the Iraqi people. We have no idea what the resistance is. It’s difficult to give a figure because nobody knows for sure how many they are. I would compare the Iraqi resistance with that of the French resistance during the German occupation. It’s composed of everyone: bakers, students, teachers, workers, farmers, etc.
Many ordinary people suffered under the Iraqi occupation. People told me their mother was shot because she asked the U.S. soldiers who searched the house, not to break the furniture. Another story was a boy who lost two of his brothers. His name is Zaid. He is a 22-year old student who likes America, admires America, and doesn’t want to participate [in the resistance.] Then in summer of 2006, his brother Haroun was killed by a U.S. sniper. Then in winter 2007, their house in Ramadi is bombed. When it was bombed, the family ran went to a relative’s house. When they arrived, they realized they forgot something. His youngest, Karim, says “I’ll do it.” After that, he’s shot by American forces. Zaid wants to save Karim, but everyone is preventing him since there’s shooting in the streets. The whole family is forced to see the Karin die. That night, he decides to fight. Fighting for Zaid is to attack tanks, Humvees, and not civilians. That’s the difference between the resistance and al-Qaeda.
How big of a presence does al-Qaeda have in Iraq?
The importance of al-Qaeda is marginal, but the Pentagon says all the attacks are because of al-Qaeda. I’ve had several discussions with resistance leaders and one could say there are 100,000 resistance fighters and 1,000 to 2,000 al-Qaeda right now. Now with the recent attacks in Mosul, there’s a big chance the Pentagon will say al-Qaeda is responsible because they need to justify their war. I try to tell the story about Zaid, his family, and all the other Iraqis. I don’t say I’m the only one who knows the truth, but I know how it feels on the Iraqi side to be occupied by a western country.
Another difference is that many people within al-Qaeda are not part of the real al Qaeda. The real al-Qaeda are is a very small group. The ones who conducted the brutal and unacceptable attacks on September 11, are the real al-Qaeda. Afghans and Pakistanis know they’ve lost all their capabilities. One part of it is killed, one part of it is captured, and the other part is hiding and trying not to be discovered. They’d be crazy to stay in touch with the young terrorists in the U.S., Europe or elsewhere. The al-Qaeda in Iraq are copy cats. They call themselves al-Qaeda because it’s the most famous terror brand name. Unfortunately and the western countries call them al-Qaeda to justify their war.
Months ago I was in Afghanistan. I met with Hamid Karzai, Afghani foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, and ex-Taliban leaders. They all told me there’s up to 200 al-Qaeda and 30,000 Taliban in their country and they have no contact with Osama bin Laden. Otherwise it would be very easy to catch bin Laden, if they had contact with him.
Terrorism and al-Qaeda are ideologies. Ideologies can’t be shot down. Now that bin Laden and al-Qaeda lost their operational capabilities, they can still give hate speeches on Al Jazeera and such, but they have reached their goal because their ideology is now globalized and decentralized. These new terrorists communicate via Internet. They train by the Internet. They can make suicide bombs and all kinds of things. We have to learn to fight against an ideology. How do you do that? You can’t shoot it down. With our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we’ve strengthen their global terrorism. The only reason to defeat global terrorism is peace. A just and fair peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, the most difficult one, a fair and just peace in Palestine.
What can the media do to improve coverage on the occupation?
I think almost all the journalists are doing a great job. because they have to write articles every week. The only chance they have to survive and write articles every week is to be embedded with the U.S. military. You have that problem in all wars. You only get to see it from one side. Therefore, I can’t give any suggestions. I went to Iraq three times as an unembedded journalist and I always felt I was in danger and those who were with me. If you a real journalist or editor, you cannot allow your people to risk their lives like that.
Where would journalists need to go in terms of reporting accurately of what’s going on in Iraq?
There are two things I believe. Western journalists should talk with the resistance. It’s not difficult to know where they are. I spoke with the leader of the resistance and it’s possible for other journalists to do so. They also have to go to the neighboring countries where they can meet many of these people. I think that’s an obligation. You will never meet al-Qaeda, but it’s probably more likely to talk with the Iraqi resistance. You’ll get incredible stories from these people because they know what’s going on in Iraq.
The second thing I’d suggest is American politicians need to talk with the resistance, not just Nouri al-Maliki. When the Americans left Vietnam, they spoke to the Viet Cong resistance. When the French left Algeria, they spoke to the National Liberation Front. The Americans have to speak with the Iraqi resistance for many reasons. al-Maliki is part of a collaboration government and all collaboration governments are kicked out once the occupation troops are gone. It was the case in France, Vietnam, and Algeria. This government wants at least 50,000 troops. Americans should speak with (and for) the resistance. It’s in their hands and they are ready to make open a new chapter without hate.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW