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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 17:20 GMT
Inside Iraq's resistance
US soldiers search an Iraqi
US soldiers search an Iraqi
We reported from Falluja, the Iraqi town which has been a centre for resistance fighters.

Local residents explained why they continue to oppose the coalition forces presence in Iraq.

UNNAMED MAN:
What do you think that if you shoot someone in my family. What do you think that I will neglect this and forget this?

UNNAMED SOLDIER:
I think 98% of the country is good and 2% should be slaughtered.

UNNAMED WOMAN:
When I hear that today an American was killed, I feel happiness in my heart.

TARA SUTTON:
When you enter this city one of the first signs you see says, "Welcome to Fallujah - burial ground of the Americans."

UNNAMED SOLDIER:
I apologise, mam, but we have to get going. We're on a schedule.

TARA SUTTON:
These soldiers had just put up posters asking people to inform on insurgents attacking US troops. They had barely left the scene before the locals tore the posters down. We're stuck in traffic and now there's huge explosions going off. It was a roadside bomb aimed at passing US soldiers. The explosion we heard was the soldiers detonating it. A crowd of men showed us what was left of the bomb. Explosions like this are now heard daily here. We spent three weeks in Fallujah talking to the people there and to the US soldiers to find out why there was so much antagonism. This is the Faydal family. They're typical of the poor farmers that live in the area. An extended family consisting of around 60 people, they all live next door to one another. For the grandmother Mensea Faydal, tribal allegiance is everything.

MENSEA FAYDAL:
We are one tribe, we have one word, we are united.

TARA SUTTON:
So what happens when someone hurts one of the tribe?

MENSEA FAYDAL:
We all stand together against the outsiders, all the family.

TARA SUTTON:
The Faydals belong to the Al Jumaily tribe, which numbers a quarter of a million throughout Iraq, though only the men are counted.

FELAH FAYDAL:
Me and my brother quarrel against my cousin but when an outsider is involved I fight with my cousin against him. It is quite normal and customary.

TARA SUTTON:
People here tend not to trust outsiders. They are almost all Sunni Muslims linked together by strong family bonds. MENSEA FAYDAL:
Saddam slaughtered my son.

TARA SUTTON:
His mother explained that Sabah was a guard for Saddam Hussein. While on duty he opened the door to a meeting at the wrong time and was executed. The family received his body three days later with a letter from him saying goodbye. Later that night, by the light of an oil lamp, because they have no electricity, we asked the family if they were happy that the United States had rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein.

MENSEA FAYDAL:
I would love to drink Saddam's blood.

TARA SUTTON:
How does she feel about the Americans being here now?

MENSEA FAYDAL:
We were happy when we were told that the Americans were coming to cut Saddam's throat, but instead they cut off our oil, gas and electricity. We were happy when they said Bush wants America to provide you with everything you need.

TARA SUTTON:
Although no fans of Saddam, her remaining sons were quick to explain that under the Americans they were suffering even more.

YAHEA FAYDAL:
What are the Americans doing? What have they done? Where is the security? They can just go.

TARA SUTTON:
So do they agree with the attacks against the Americans?

FELAH FAYDAL:
Everyone has his home and if someone comes and attacks me I will try to hit him with anything I have. My house is dear to me, my country is dear and not cheap. It's my homeland.

TARA SUTTON:
Five minutes from the centre of Fallujah is a base for the US 82nd Airborne, an elite combat battalion brought in specially to stabilise this area. They have suffered many casualties already and during the week we were with them six more soldiers were wounded. Outside of patrols and searches, most US soldiers have very little contact with the local people. And when they do, it is often without a translator.

SERGEANT JULIO HERNANDEZ: 82ND AIRBORNE, FALLUJAH:
It's tough to see what the people think or think of you because we really don't have that much interaction with the people daily in our job. We just go in and do what we need to do.

TARA SUTTON:
For US soldiers in this war, nothing can be taken for granted. Already a veteran of the Afghan war, Sergeant Foster had been on patrol the day before when a boy threw something at his vehicle.

SERGEANT JACK FOSTER: 82ND AIRBORNE, FALLUJAH:
We're sort of used to the kids throwing rocks at us so it kind of took a second to register that it wasn't a rock, it was a hand grenade. Luckily we got him cornered and we didn't have to shoot him because none of us want to shoot a kid. I mean he's eight-years-old. You're supposed to put him over your knee and spank him not shoot him. Of course an eight-year-old kid is not supposed to throw hand grenades at soldiers, but you'd be surprised at what these people will do.

TARA SUTTON:
Sergeant Foster came to Iraq with a squad of eight men. Since then six of those men have been wounded and one has died.

SERGEANT JACK FOSTER:
I think 98% of the people in this country are good and the other 2% should be slaughtered.

TARA SUTTON:
A few days later we visited another member of the Faydal family. In September, Ahmed's house was bombed by the Americans, killing three and wounding three others.

AHMED KHALID:
The American general came here the next morning and I asked him to give one reason. Why did you bombard this house and kill those innocent people that were sleeping in the house? Tell me. He said it was a mistake and we are sorry and giving such excuses.

TARA SUTTON:
At the graves of those who died, Ahmed's wife told us she still has nightmares about the attack and now supports the resistance.

HADOUD NOURI:
When I hear that today an American was killed, I feel as though Iraq has not been occupied by America and this makes me feel happiness in my heart.

TARA SUTTON:
At Fallujah's main hospital, Dr Kamal Al Anni knows first-hand about the number of people that get caught up in the crossfire between the Americans and the resistance. He's the head surgeon and says he has treated hundreds, all civilians.

DR KAMAL AL ANNI:
We know them, we are from here, we know them personally. We are native. These are our people. They are our neighbours or relatives.

TARA SUTTON:
People here expect compensation for their injuries and when they don't get it they openly talk about revenge. We were hearing it discussed wherever we went.

DR KAMAL AL ANNI:
If you shoot somebody from my family, what do you think, what do you think? That I neglect this and will forget this? Never have to take revenge? Otherwise nobody will respect you.

TARA SUTTON:
Meanwhile the army are trying to stabilise the area. And one of the ways they do this is by setting up checkpoints on the back roads around Fallujah. While we were with them the troops were fired on.

MAJOR JACK MARR: 82ND AIRNORNE, FALLUJAH:
They shot at us so we followed them back into the house and found all this stuff. Seven weapons over here. Three AKs, a couple of different action assault rifles and most interesting to us is a basket full of what we call IED-making materials stored in plastic jugs. I mean nobody has a purpose for pulling all the propellant out of air defence artillery shells.

TARA SUTTON:
They arrested three men and took them back to the base for questioning. The same night Marr's soldiers stopped a car and found an AK-47 assault rifle in it.

UNNAMED SOLDIER:
That's five years in prison, man. AK-47 with a magazine in the well. That's illegal.

TARA SUTTON:
The men said the rifle was to protect them from the carjackers that now target these roads. The Army says it is careful about who it arrests and detains but many people in Fallujah disagree. Outside a mosque in the city centre a taxi driver came up to us. He told us that in November American soldiers had blown open the doors to his house in the middle of the night and arrested him and his father.

MAROUF:
We were savagely and unbearably beaten and hurt until we reached their base. They even beat us with the rifle butts.

TARA SUTTON:
During their stay at the base, they were repeatedly questioned about a man they scarcely knew.

MAROUF:
They have seven small wooden compartments of about one metre by two metres, which they call the "mouse house" with a sliding door. They make you go in and close the sliding door. It is like a relatively large coffin. When they wanted to wake us up they would say, "Wake up mouse."

TARA SUTTON:
We cannot verify whether this was the base they were kept in but we did ask Major Marr about Marouf's allegations that he was held for three days without food or water.

MAJOR JACK MARR:
No. We are constantly looking at ourselves using our military forces standards about how people here are treated and detained. Watchdog agencies help us with that, but no, not here.

TARA SUTTON:
Marouf says he was released after 26 days and claims that he was never told why he was arrested. He used to support the Americans but this experience has changed that.

MAROUF:
The resistance are simply people like me and like any Iraqi citizen who has been deceived by the Americans. And when they are detained and see how unfair the Americans are, they realise that they are just people who come intending to kill and therefore they have to resist them.

DR KAMAL AL ANNI:
They are simple people. They maybe are overreacting when you insult them by a word. He might shoot you and when you give him a simple favour he has to do thousands for you. They express themselves. I think this is my people, like this, I would do in the same way.

TARA SUTTON:
The Faydal family and others like them hoped that this war would bring them a better, safer life. They have not found that yet. At the moment the only thing that they feel they can count on is what they have always counted on, that their family and tribe will look after them.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.



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