Extracts - Mindless Thug
January 18, 2004 - Baghdad Bombing
January 18, 2004 marked the turning point in the two distinct forms of the Iraqi insurgency against Coalition forces in Iraq. As opposed to the locally focussed Sunni guerilla insurgency West of Baghdad targeting military personnel, January 18, 2004 marked the beginning of outright terrorism in it’s purest forms. Official definitions by the FBI describing violent, dangerous acts, intimidation, coercion and political acts skirt around the brutality of this Baghdad bombing. The intent of the VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) at the main gate to the former presidential palace was twofold. The immediate intent was to kill as many defenceless Iraqi citizens as possible lining up to begin work. The wider, political intent was to dissuade all Iraqi civilians from providing logistical and operational support for Coalition Forces in the newly established Headquarters.
Due to the fortified location, the physical damage was largely confined to human beings, approximately ‘twenty odd’human fatalilties and over one hundred casualties with the death toll expected to rise over the following days. Western perceptions and definitions of terrorism fail to take into account the realities of Iraqi culture, both social and religious, and the Iraqi economy. Previous Ba’ath government sponsored acts of terrorism against it’s own people had created a very dark form of resilience and capacity to cope in its population. As a result, the impacts of the bombing were borne for the most part by the immediate victims and their families, rather than the local economy, population and infrastructure. Sectarian inspired fatalism, combined with no real employment opportunities, saw local Iraqi civilians soon lining up to take the jobs of those who had just been killed. Families have to be fed and killings are often rationalised as ‘God wanting these good people to be with him in heaven’.
The true impacts of the bombing were both hidden and overt. The most severe casualties died unnoticed in their homes and in the underresourced Iraqi hospitals in the ‘Medical District’ of Baghdad, also subject to regular bombings in the following months. The overt impacts were more obvious on the Coalition Provisional Authority than the primary intended target, the Iraqi population. Vehicles were ‘up-armoured’ and all civilian contractors were on notice to take their security and dealings with the local population seriously or be deported to their country of origin. ‘We’ began to put up our own barriers with the very population that we were supposed to be assisting to rebuild their economy and infrastructure. Construction and oversight costs soared along with corruption and cultural suspicion at every level of the rebuilding effort, handing an unintended defacto victory to the terrorists. In the same manner that the local Iraqi civilians were not dissuaded from working with Coalition Forces, the ‘true terrorist’ element of the insurgency was not dissuaded either. As they became more organised and better financed over the coming months the bombings increased, killing individual CF personnel and an ever increasing number of Iraqi civilians.