Patrick Graham in
Sunday March 30, 2003
The JabouriI family had fled their Baghdad city centre home to stay with relatives on the southern outskirts of the city where they thought they might be safer from the bombs.
It was a mistake. A few kilometres away the Iraqi army set up the last line of defence for Baghdad. The Republican Guard began digging in shortly after the first airstrikes. Army camps sprung up on the highway and military equipment was parked beneath overpasses. The dirt road leading to the farmhouse runs along a dyke between the irrigated fields where militiamen sitting on wooden benches stop all traffic.
The US missile hit the farmhouse a short while after noon prayers. The 12 members of the extended family had gathered downstairs in the living room waiting for an announcement by the President on television. Khalid Jabouri, a 22-year-old office clerk who had just returned from work, was having a late lunch and drinking tea. His 16-year-old wife, Nahida, had just gone upstairs to brush her teeth.
The family found Nahida on the stairs, her decapitated body mangled and cut in half. Her hand with her wedding ring was intact. The couple were married just last week, they had killed a cow and invited 50 neighbours to the celebrations. They had not yet had a chance to have their wedding pictures developed. Khalid's sister Hana, 22, was also killed, her body buried beneath rubble, and his eight-year-old cousin.
'First, I carried out my little cousin, Rana - she was dead. Then I saw my sister Hana - she was dead. And I looked everywhere for my wife. And then they found her on the stairs,' said Khalid, squatting on the floor at the al-Kindy hospital in a pair of striped pyjamas, crying.
Fateha Gazi, the mother of Rana, sits on a bed in the same hospital across from her children. Her daughter Nada, 14, lies in one bed with a swollen eye and cuts all over her face. In the adjacent bed, Fateha's nine-year-old eldest son has a long wound down his left shoulder and his collar bone is broken.
Fateha takes a photo of Rana from an envelope. She's a tiny girl with large eyes smiling in a pink dress. 'She was born in 1995 but she was sick and never grew very big,' she said, looking at the picture. 'Rana had a growth hormone problem.'
Fateha begins to cry and grips her lap. 'I took you to the village because I was afraid of Bush killing you,' she tells the photo. 'And then Bush came to the village and killed you.'
Her husband Adnan Najim,
who has just arrived at the hospital in his army uniform, tries to take the
picture but she waves him away. 'Don't cry,' he says. 'God wanted her, thanks
be to God. She is with God.'