...After the roadside bombing, the Marines arrived first at the door of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 89, an amputee who used a wheelchair. They shot him, then turned their guns on his three sons and their families, survivors said.
Waleed Abdul Hameed, a 48-year-old worker in Al Anbar's religious affairs office, was among the first of the family members to be gunned down. His 9-year-old daughter, Eman, said she was still wearing her pajamas when the Marines arrived. Her 7-year-old brother, Abdul Rahman, said he hid his face with a blanket when his father was shot.
A few minutes later, the boy saw his mother fall to the ground, dying.
"I saw her while she was crying," he said. "She fell down on the floor bleeding." Speaking days ago in Haditha, months after the attacks, the boy broke into tears, covered his eyes with his hands, and began to mutter to himself.
At his side, his elder sister began to speak again. Eman described how the two had waited for help, the bodies of their family members sprawled on the floor.
"We were scared," she said. "I tried to hide under the bed." With shrapnel injuries to her legs, she lay still for two hours.
When the shooting began, Eman's aunt, Hibba Abdullah snatched her 5-month-old niece off the floor. The baby's mother had dropped her in shock after seeing her husband gunned down. Clutching the child, Abdullah ran out of the house. She and the baby, Aasiya, survived.
The baby's mother "completely collapsed when they killed her husband in front of her," Abdullah said. "I ran away carrying Aasiya outside the house, but when the Americans returned they killed Asma, the mother of the child."
Abdullah's 39-year-old husband also slipped out of the house and ran to warn his cousins nearby. But he crossed paths with the Americans on his way back; he died of gunshot wounds to the shoulder and head, Abdullah said.
Seven family members were killed: Ali and his wife; their three sons and a daughter-in-law; and their 5-year-old grandson. Only one of the household's adults survived...
...The Americans yelled in the faces of her family members before shooting them, she said, then kicked them and hit the bodies with their guns.
The schoolgirl said she lay on the ground, covered with her sister's blood, and pretended to be dead while her family died around her. Her sister's blood spurted fast; it was like a water tap, she said.
"I feel sorry. I was wishing to be alive," said Safa. "Now I wish I had died with them."
The troops moved along the street to another home. There, they killed four brothers, whose ages ranged from 20 to 38, a woman from the family said. First the Marines herded the women outside, pointed guns at their heads and ordered them to stay still, said the woman, who did not want her name published.
The men were grouped inside. Then the sound of gunfire rang out.
"After some minutes the soldiers ran out and left the house," she said. The women went inside and found the men dead.
"They were shot in different parts of their bodies," the woman said. "Spots of blood covered the place. Blood was coming out."
The last to die apparently came upon the scene by chance. Four university students, two of them brothers, and their taxi driver drove too close to the spot where the families had been killed. Witnesses said U.S. troops stopped their car, ordered them to get out and shot them.
When the killing was over, the Americans continued to guard the street, keeping relatives away, townspeople said. Eventually, the troops took the bodies to the hospital, a medical source in Haditha said.
Since that November day, the people of Haditha have felt haunted. The survivors described sinking into depression.
Much of the talk has centered on the U.S. offer of $2,500 in compensation for each death. Some of the families said they turned the money down...
...Iraqis already have a tarnished view of the U.S. military, that the notion of foreign troops killing innocent civilians simply doesn't deliver much shock.
"It doesn't mean that much to hear that 20 people were killed by the Americans," said Hassan Bazzaz, a political analyst in Baghdad. "Every single day people are killed and thrown in the streets, in the garbage cans. They're scared to death. They don't even have time to think about what happened in Haditha."
Stuff About My Work