I was thrilled to find this article featuring Bilal Hussein, the AP stringer who is currently under arrest by the U.S. military for colluding with terrorists.
AP Photographer Flees Fallujah
Witnesses US Helicopter Kill Fleeing Family of 5
by Katarina Kratovac
BAGHDAD, Iraq - In the weeks before the crushing military assault on his hometown, Bilal Hussein sent his parents and brother away from Fallujah to stay with relatives.
The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of the former insurgent stronghold.
Thrilled, because along with several mil blogs, I followed the Fallujah battle intensely, including with maps. See here and over a dozen links at bottom. But to the point. Here's Bilal's dramatic account of his escape from Fallujah. Jolan, his neighborhood was a hotbed of terrorists, they were being killed there in large groups the very day he fled.
He totally leaves out the fact that the Iraqi military was part of that action. Now read this part of his account then see below.
"U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house," he said.
Hussein said he panicked, seizing on a plan to escape across the Euphrates River, which flows on the western side of the city.
"I wasn't really thinking," he said. "Suddenly, I just had to get out. I didn't think there was any other choice."
In the rush, Hussein left behind his camera lens and a satellite telephone for transmitting his images. His lens, marked with the distinctive AP logo, was discovered two days later by U.S. Marines next to a dead man's body in a house in Jolan.
Hussein moved from house to house — dodging gunfire — and reached the river.
"I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."
He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."
Regarding the above - we are to believe that while helicopters were overhead gunning everyone down, Hussein takes the time to bury a man by hand on the river bank? Does that really make any sense?
"I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards."
He met a peasant family, who gave him refuge in their house for two days. Hussein knew a driver in the region and sent a message to another AP colleague, Ali Ahmed, in nearby Ramadi.
Ahmed relayed the news that Hussein was alive to AP's Baghdad bureau. He sent a second message back to Hussein that a fisherman in nearby Habaniyah would ferry the photographer to safety by boat.
"At the end of the boat ride, Ali was waiting for me. He took me to Baghdad, to my office."
Sitting safely in the AP's offices, a haggard-looking Hussein offered a tired smile of relief.
So, this modern ex-cell phone salesman fled a terrorist hotbed by ferry, which were known for smuggling terrorists and guns, and disappeared to parts unknown for two whole days without so much as a call? In fairness, the AP may have them off line, but I couldn't find dozens of images from Fallujah taken by Bilal Hussein. Wouldn't that be expected from the time when he was still there? And he conveniently lost his cell phone for this two day trek during which he witnessed allaged atrocities, so he couldn't take a single pic.
Hussein went missing for several days when forced to flee Fallujah during the U.S. incursion earlier this week
I'll bet he was on the run alright. Now read this account of women and children leaving Fallujah at the very same time as Bilal Hussein. (excerpts below)
After reading it, you be the judge. Does Hussein sound like someone with a press credential trying to get out of Fallujah, or more like a terrorist sympathizer running for his life, trying to go undetected - and bashing the US military the first chance he gets? I Googled around quite a bit, I realize Fallujah was ugly, but I can't find independent confirmations of the atrocities Hussein suggests. And lets' not forget, the Iraqi PM warned civilians to leave there for months before the attack. Perhaps the AP can oblige with some independent sources for Hussein's version, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The AFP had photographers embedded with our troops. All Hussein had to do was approach a check point and present his credential. And here is a completely different story of families with up to ninety members fleeing Fallujah with none of Hussein's dramatics. And another. And here's a link to a then circulating story of the US bombing civilians, they turned out to be gunmen pinning down Marines.
From what I can gather, when Bilan Hussein wasn't busy photographing terrorists, or the people they killed, he was spending his time spreading propaganda for them.
FALLUJAH, Iraq — Hundreds of men trying to flee the assault on Fallujah have been turned back by U.S. troops following orders to allow only women, children and the elderly to leave.
The military says it has received reports warning that insurgents will drop their weapons and mingle with refugees to avoid being killed or captured by advancing American troops.
As it believes many of Fallujah's men are guerrilla fighters, it has instructed U.S. troops to turn back all males aged 15 to 55.
"We assume they'll go home and just wait out the storm or find a place that's safe," one 1st Cavalry Division officer, who declined to be named, said Thursday.
Army Col. Michael Formica, who leads forces isolating Fallujah, admits the rule sounds "callous." But he insists it's is key to the mission's success.
"Tell them 'Stay in your houses, stay away from windows and stay off the roof and you'll live through Fallujah,'" Formica, of the 1st Cavalry Division's (search) 2nd Brigade, told his battalion commanders in a radio conference call Wednesday night.
Troops have cut off all roads and bridges leading out of the city. Relatively few residents have sought to get through, but officers here say they fear a larger exodus.
On Wednesday, a crowd of 225 people surged south out of Fallujah toward the blocking positions of the Marines' 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion. The Marines let 25 women and children pass but separated the 200 military-age men and forced them to walk back into Fallujah.
"There is nothing that distinguishes an insurgent from a civilian," the 1st Cavalry officer said. "If they're not carrying a weapon, you can't tell who's who."
Also Wednesday, troops halted two ambulances leaving Fallujah and found 57 refugees packed inside. Most were women and children who were allowed to leave. Smaller bands of refugees have also turned up at U.S. roadblocks, some allowed to pass and others turned back.
Single refugees have made their way out of the city by swimming across the broad Euphrates River or sneaking out across desert paths, military officials said.
On Wednesday and Thursday, American troops sunk boats being used to ferry people — and in some cases, rebel arms — across the river.
The ongoing U.S. advance is bottling up Fallujah's insurgents — and others fleeing the fighting — in the southern section of the city, where U.S. forces were moving Thursday night.
Most of the remaining attacks by insurgents inside Fallujah have been on Marines blocking the roads and bridges leaving the city, reports show. Marines have returned fire killing numerous insurgents trying to escape, officers here said.
The military estimates 600 insurgents have already been killed, about half the total of guerrillas in the city.
Fallujah has been under relentless aerial and artillery bombardment and without electricity since Monday. Reports have said residents are running low on food. An officer here said it was likely that those who stay in their homes would live through the assault, but agreed the city was a risky and frightening place to live.
U.S. military says it does all it can to prevent bombing buildings with civilians inside them.
Once the battle ends, military officials say all surviving military-age men can expect to be tested for explosive residue, catalogued, checked against insurgent databases and interrogated about ties with the guerrillas. U.S. and Iraqi troops are in the midst of searching homes, and plan to check every house in the city for weapons.
Fallujah coverage: So It Begins - Frontline reporters have second thoughts Map 1 - Maps Explained - Map - Jolan Streets - Soccer Field Cemetery - Railroad Station - Southeastern Consolidation - Rough Picture from News Reports - Telegraphing From the Front - South of Thurthar and 10 - Crunch Time and a link at end with the story of a blond woman found with no arms and legs as a result of a terrorist act in Fallujah.
Nov 14 (AFP) - The body of a blonde-haired woman with her legs and arms cut off and throat slit was found Sunday lying on a street in Fallujah, a notorious Iraqi enclave for hostage-takers, marines said.
"It is definitely a Caucasian woman with long blonde hair," said a military official, who cut open a cover that had been over the corpse.
The gruesome discovery was made as the marines moved through the south of Fallujah, hunting out the remaining rebels after a week of fierce fighting to regain control of the city.
"It is a female ... missing all four appendages, with a slashed throat and disemboweled, she has been dead for a while but only in this location for a day or two," said Benjamin Finnell, a hospital apprentice with the Navy Corps, who had inspected the body.
An AFP photographer embedded with the marines noted that the woman was wearing a blue dress and her face was completely disfigured.
The marines said she appeared to have been on the street for about two days.
Two foreign women have been abducted in Iraq and remain missing.
One, Teresa Borcz, 54, a Pole, has blonde hair, the other, British aid worker Margaret Hassan, 59, has chestnut-coloured hair.
More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq since April by different militant groups and many have been beheaded.