But the unending repercussions of these atrocities aren't limited to whole populations or communities. For it is the countless personal stories of individuals and families which are, without question, the most tragic of all consequences. There is, for example, the incident which took place earlier this year in Mahmoudiyah, Iraq.
Her name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, and for some time she'd been harassed and propositioned by a small group of American soldiers who manned the checkpoint which she passed through every day. I can only imagine how she must have prayed to God that there were some other way she could have travelled to reach her home, how she must have lain awake at night, fearing what these animals in uniforms might one day do to her. Then on March 12th, her worst fears came to pass, and, in a matter of minutes, an innocent family of six was brutally reduced to two. The parents and the two girls shot to death. The two boys orphaned, their lives changed forever.
I sit here now and wonder how much coercion Green found it necessary to employ before the others, spurred on by their desire, gave way to his appeals and agreed to join his crusade. Did the devil in sheep's clothing (or Army fatigues in this case) sit amongst his "pals", innocently playing a game of cards, knowing exactly which strings to pull, which buttons to push? And once committed, they formulated their plans, donned their disguises, and proceeded to traverse the short distance it would take to relieve their yearnings and quench their lust. I can just picture the five of them fantasizing themselves to be on a "mission", thereby heightening their sense of danger and excitement. And emboldened by the knowledge of their superior strength they invaded the sanctity of Abeer Hamza's home, the sanctity of her body, and the sanctity of her very life.
And what of the provocateur himself? Well, though there are a few things I would like to say about Mr. Green, I think instead I'll just let him speak for himself.......
"I came over here because I wanted to kill people." (1)
"I'm gonna go over there and kill 'em all." (3)
"The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.' " (1)
"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," (1)
"Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza.' " (1)
Yes indeed, what a proud day it is for us all.
May the souls of Abeer Hamza, her parents, and her sister rest in peace.
(1) Andrew Tilghman (30 July, 2006) "Encountering Steven Green" washingtonpost.com
(2) Kirk Semple (06 August, 2006) "Iraq Rape-Murder Hearing Focuses on Role of Ex-G.I." The New York Times
(3) Sarah Childress and Michael Hirsh (07 August, 2006) "An Itchy Finger" MSNBC/Newsweek National News