The past week has given us yet another insight into how Western powers habitually devalue Muslim lives. Here, I am not necessarily talking about US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration freeze, dubbed a “Muslim Ban” due to the countries it targets. What Trump is doing is a symptom of a far worse disease – that of the dehumanisation of Muslim lives, particularly those living in Muslim-majority countries.
Are US soldiers worth more than kids?
In a news story that was almost universally ignored or swiftly brushed under the rug by the mainstream media in the West, we learned that US Navy SEALs bungled their way into Yakla in Yemen over the weekend, killing at least 16 Yemeni civilians, most of whom were women and children. Had we been paying close attention, we would have also learnt that they then proceeded to shoot an eight-year-old girl in the neck, and leave her to bleed slowly and excruciatingly to death for two hours.
Little Nawar Al-Awlaki was not the first child in her family to be killed by US military action. In 2011, and two weeks after his father, cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, was killed in a drone strike, her then-16-year-old brother Abdulrahman had his young life snuffed out by another unmanned aerial death machine that regularly blights Yemen’s skies, and Yemenis’ lives.
Both of these children were US citizens, killed by the armed forces of their own government, forces that are supposed to protect them. US forces are also obliged to follow international laws of war, and children, whatever their nationality, can never be legitimate targets. Regarding Abdulrahman, the US government ignored the matter of his assassination for ages before eventually saying that he was not the intended target, and brushed him off as “collateral damage”. Nawar has not even received acknowledgement that she was so brutally killed by the White House.
Instead, Trump released a statement that mourned the loss of one of the SEALs who was involved in the botched operation. “Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a little girl being shot in the neck by gung-ho military operatives is right down there at Satan-levels of evil.
Even a quick scan of the press will show that pretty much all the major outlets did not even deign to mention the fact that a beautiful little girl was killed by her country’s own armed forces. This is even if they considered her as only “collateral damage”, not that the White House or the Pentagon has said even that. Instead, we get statements from Trump and other Pentagon officials lionising the raid, hailing it as a success and lamenting the loss of one of the soldiers who seemingly gave their life so that an eight-year-old girl could be blasted in the throat at close-range.
‘I didn’t even think of Iraqis as humans’
Seeing Nawar reminded me of another young Muslim girl who was so savagely snatched out of this world in perhaps a far eviller murder, if murder can even be morally scaled.
In March 2006, five US soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment deployed to the village of Yusufiyah in Iraq planned and plotted, in a cruel, calculating and premeditated manner, the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi. Let us name and shame these monsters again; Steven Green; James Barker; Paul Cortez; Jesse Spielman; and Bryan Howard. These five were assisted by a sixth demon, Anthony Yribe, who decided to hold his tongue to protect his brothers.
By all accounts, and apart from the horrifying circumstances in which she lived as a result of the largest war crime of this millennium that is the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Abeer was a normal Iraqi girl living in abnormal and inhuman times. Her family were aware of the soldiers named above, as they manned a checkpoint about 200 metres from their home.
Abeer’s family became more concerned, after soldiers kept “ogling her”, and used to touch her inappropriately whenever they searched the family house, likely on “security concerns”. According to TIME magazine, during one of these searches, one of the soldiers stroked her cheek with his index finger, leading Abeer to become terrified.
After days of plotting, the Americans put their evil scheme into action. On 12 March 2006, they left their checkpoint and headed to Abeer’s house, leaving Howard outside as a lookout. The rest then burst into the family home separating her from her family and placing them into separate rooms. Green then murdered her family as the other soldiers raped her.
Once he was done with the grisly murders of her father, mother and younger sister, and with their blood still on his hands, he then raped Abeer before shooting her in the head. The soldiers left the scene only after attempting to cover up the crime and setting Abeer on fire, along with the rest of her house. Green was later quoted as saying, “I didn’t even think of Iraqis as humans”.
No justice, no peace
Despite facing court martials and other instruments of US “justice”, most of those convicted for the evil recounted above have the opportunity for parole in a decade. In the meantime, no compensation has ever been awarded to Abeer’s family, left bereft and scarred by American war crimes.
Forget those nonsensical American war films that are nothing more than propaganda, where US soldiers are almost always the good guys, and brown Arabic-speaking people stereotyped as “ragheads” are the bad guys. The US military has been responsible for some unspeakable evil in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and half a dozen African countries, not forgetting their brutality in Latin America during the Cold War.
You don’t get to claim the moral high ground when you murder little girls, and then have the temerity and impudence to call others terrorists. Uncle Sam created these terrorists either by directly supporting them or by indirectly encouraging them through the radicalisation that their policies that dehumanise Muslims create.
Until the United States ceases its apparently ceaseless war crimes around the world, then they can expect the radicalization that they create to come back to continue the cycle of violence that they themselves began.
This post originally ran on Middle East Monitor and was written by: