As I said before, I will apologize if the unlikely event occurs that ANY of this bullsh*t story were true.
Apparently, the "authorities" are looking into this situation. Here's the latest update from Zeyad on the Americans alledgedly committing atrocities against Iraqis:
A full investigation will commence tomorrow which will involve the family and the surviving cousin. Chief Wiggles is also looking into the matter from his end at Baghdad. So at this point let's all avoid any further speculations on the incident and try to keep an open mind until all details are clear. I'm in Basrah right now (and having trouble again) so please be patient if it takes some time for me to get back to you.Zeyad says to keep an open mind? He should look in the mirror when he says that. In fact, I want ONE BIG ASS APOLOGY from him when this is debunked, though can't say how that is going to happen. How to disprove a murder when there is no body and no way of identifying the murderers? This is so Iraqi style - meaning that lack of evidence makes it true. Crap.
As to the letter I admitted that I was hesitant to publish it the way it was since it was so obviously incoherent as to the details which were provided by the cousin who is until now the sole witness. The reason I published it later was that the American officials at Samarra refused to carry out an investigation. I wanted to gather enough attention from the blogosphere to try to push an investigation because the charges are serious and shouldn't be dismissed or shrugged off as that could lead to even more trouble in an already inflammable area. And it was a successful attempt to some degree.
And I would like to address some of the seeming inconsistencies in the letter, first the Tharthar dam is actually bawabat nadhum al-tharthar which is on the Tigris and regulates water from the river to the Tharthar lake via a canal not very far from the Samarra road and people in that area usually refer to it as the Tharthar dam. Second, according to the cousin's account, the soldiers removed the handcuffs before telling them to jump in the water. Zaydun did not survive because he couldn't swim, his mother said that since his uncle died drowning, Zaydun's father wouldn't allow Zaydun near the water, and hence he couldn't swim. His cousin however was lucky. As to the flashlights (or torches), please don't be too quick to affirm that American GI's in that area never use them. I've seen them myself during night patrols in my neighbourhood use them (especially during power outages). And I am aware that the letter itself may look like one of those Nigerian scam emails everyone gets in their inbox, but that is the way people in the ME write. They can't help but write like that. And I also admitted that the translation on my part wasn't perfect. You can find the letters in Arabic above the picture.
One thing is certain. Zaydun is dead. How or who or where or why are yet to be confirmed. So don't jump to any conclusions. I never asked anyone to blindly believe the story, I just asked that you do something to help it get investigated.
I never implied that I was 100% convinced about the details. They were really really troubled when I talked to them and they just handed me the letter and the picture and asked me to do whatever I can do about it. There are other relatives of the family that are involved in this and I'm not coordinating things with them.
However as I promised I will stay tuned with the family and keep you all updated on how the investigation proceeds. I am aware of the huge responsibility I have to my readers, and even if some parts of the story or all of it turn out to be fabricated by the cousin, You can be sure that I will report it.
So, we still don't know:
1. Which authorities did nothing about the report the first time.
2. Which authorities are doing something about the report now.
3. Where's the body. Zeyad says that Zaydun is dead. But no body has been found, just a jacket. So, we don't know if the Zaydun is really dead, as much as Zeyad wants to believe it.
4. Why haven't the media covered this, yet. Zaydun "died" on the 3rd. It's now the 10th in Iraq.
5. Why hasn't this event started a riot? Haven't there been riots in the Samarra area over perceived improprieties by American soldiers?
While every thing else is unlikely, unplausible, and unbelievable, it could have happened. Here are just some of the implausibilities that are flying around the blogosphere:
1. A group of GI's using flashlights in a very hostile area. Unlikely.
2. A group of GI's making somebody swim for any reason. Unlikely.
3. A group of GI's trying to kill someone by making them swim instead of shooting them. Unlikely
4. A group of GI's screwing up a murder attempt and allowing a survivor. Unlikely.
5. A group of GI's drunk on patrol. Unlikely.
6. A group of GI's go off of their scheduled patrol route in a dangerous area. UNLIKELY.
7. A group of GI's being able to cover up the murder. Unlikely.
8. The "survivor" didn't see a unit patch on a sleeve or helmet. Unlikely.
9. Zaydun and his cousin did something wrong and Zaydun died and his cousin is trying to blame Americans. Something wrong could be a lot of things, including terrorism. Also, this was during Zaydun's Wedding day, week, month, whatever. Unlikely.
10. That Americans were playing a joke on Zaydun and didn't know that he could not swim and didn't try to save him. Unlikely.
Maybe, I've missed something. Even so, it's still crap.
Update: Greyhawk had posted a run-down of MilBlogs that have commented on this issue.
Another update is here.
Update 07-03-04: Apology was made on April 5th.