Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Man Who Was Murdered

The story of the Marine who got away has gotten a lot of play - a really lot of play - since it came out yesterday.

Military judges at Camp Pendleton have decided that a 25-year-old Marine convicted of kidnapping and conspiring to murder an Iraqi man will not serve jail time. Instead, a three-judge panel gave Cpl. Trent Thomas of Madison, Ill., a bad-conduct discharge and busted him to private.

"Conspiring to murder." They did murder, and Thomas admitted that, and admitted that he knew that he had helped murder a man he knew to be innocent.

But I don't feel like giving him or his "punishment" much thought right now.

What's been bugging me about all these stories is that you hardly get a sense of the human on the other side of the equation: the man who was pulled from his home in the middle of the night - in his bathrobe - marched a half a mile while he repeatedly asked them, "Why mister, why?", thrown into a ditch, and shot at least three times in the face, and then several more times in the chest. The seven Marines and one Navy corpsman then left him with an AK-47 and a shovel by his side, both of which they had stolen earlier from his cousin's house. The group later said, as they had all planned beforehand, that they had come across the man digging a hole for a bomb, and killed him only after he shot at them.

The man they killed was a 52-year-old named Hashim. He was, by all accounts, a small man, and disabled, and he had poor eyesight. He was known in his village as "Hasim the Lame," because he had a rod in his leg, put there to repair a wound suffered in a farming accident some 15 years earlier. His family - his wife, his eleven children, at least two of his brothers and their families - were home when he was taken. They later heard gunshots, but wouldn't know until the next day, when a brother was asked to identify a body - which he at first couldn't identify because the face was so badly mutilated - that he had been killed.

His full name was Hashim Ibrahim Awad.

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