The Red Phoenix received the following letter from Hannah, a former soldier now working as a nurse, on her thoughts on this Veteran’s Day. The Red Phoenix reproduces letters without editing their content. This letter contains graphic accounts of US war crimes in Iraq.
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was a 14 year old girl who lived in Al-Mahmudiyah Iraq. She had a mother and father, a 6 year old sister, and 2 brothers, ages 9 and 11. Her family rented and lived in a modest 1 bedroom house. Her father was a security guard for a date orchard, while her mother stayed at home to look after the family.
Her father, Qassim, dreamed of sending his children to college. He wanted them to have a better life than he did. He was working really hard at the time to buy the family a larger home, and so they could eat better and enjoy the same luxuries as their neighbors.
The family says that Abeer’s 6 year old sister, Hadeel, loved to tend to plants outside.
According to family, Abeer dreamed of living in a “big city” like Baghdad one day. Since she was born right after the Gulf War, which devastated Iraq’s civil infrastructure, and in the midst of U.S. sanctions, she lived a very sheltered life and spent most of her time indoors for her own safety.
Prior to her gang rape and murder, Abeer faced intense sexual harassment from U.S. Army soldiers who worked at a Traffic Check Point (TCP) about 200 yards away from her home. While she would work on her chores like tending to her garden, U.S. soldiers would catcall and point at her while they were on duty, giving her parents a “thumb’s up” if they happened to be with Abeer. These same soldiers also forcibly searched her home prior to the murders, and strip searched her whole family. Abeer reported being terrified when PFC Jacob Green ran his fingers down her cheek at their initial interaction. These soldiers knew what they were doing, and they had their eyes on her and her family, since it’s been confirmed Jacob Green talked about raping Abeer and killing her family prior to the murders.
Fast forward to 12-March-2006. 5 soldiers from the TCP; SPC Paul E. Cortez, SPC James P. Barker, PFC Jesse Spielman, PFC Brian L. Howard, and PFC Jacob Green were playing cards and drinking whiskey while they were on duty. They were openly discussing raping Abeer and “killing some Iraqis.” After they had seen her passing by their checkpoint, they decided to go to her home.
Then in broad daylight, the soldiers forcibly entered Abeer’s home. Green murdered Abeer’s father in front of her 6 year old sister Hadeel, and forced Hadeel inside. Cortez and Barker proceeded to gang rape Abeer while Abeer’s mother struggled with Green, in full sight of her daughter being raped. Green broke both of Abeer’s mother’s arms before he murdered her mother and 6 year old sister. While Abeer was being raped, she heard gunshots, and listened to her mother and sister die. This prompted her to scream and cry while the two raped her even more violently. When the two were finished with her, Jacob Green proceeded to rape Abeer, and shoot her in the head afterward. The soldiers poured gasoline all over her body and attempted to set fire to her.
Abeer’s two brothers, ages 11 and 9 were the first to find their house on fire and witness the remains of their family after coming home from school on what would have been a normal day.
The soldiers later described the crimes as “awesome” and celebrated with a meal of chicken wings after the fact.
Her family subsequently reported the crime to the Iraqi Army. The American soldiers lied and covered up what they did. They got away with it for a few years until an unrelated soldier who had knowledge of the crime came forward and told on them.
All but one of the criminal American soldiers are still alive and serving time in Leavenworth, Kansas.
I wanted to share this story for Veteran’s Day, to highlight the harsh realities of American imperialism, Islamophobia, and patriarchy.
Joe Biden and Trump both supported the Iraq War. They have the blood of Abeer on their hands, and they will NEVER be able to wash it off. Imperialism is what Democrats and Republicans both ideologically share in common.
So no, I’m not proud to be an American or associate with this country at all. Whenever I see that stupid flag, or come across any other military jingoistic propaganda, I immediately imagine Abeer and her family, and people like her. I imagine their suffering, even though there’s no way for me to know exactly what it’s like.
I’m also aware of the fact that my college is paid for at the expense of the suffering of the victims of American imperialism; all because I wanted to go to school, and this country doesn’t grant its citizens hardly any civil benefits unless they partake in the military-industrial complex, further advancing imperialism. And this fact never leaves with me, and this fact informs all of my political views.
On Veteran’s Day, I challenge all of us to practice radical empathy for faceless and nameless people, at least in the US, who were victimized by imperialism. Now you know one victim with a face and a name; Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.