Archive for January, 2012


Why We Fight describes the rise and maintenance of the United States military-industrial complex and its involvement in the wars led by the United States during the last fifty years, and in particular in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The film alleges that in every decade since World War II, the American public has been told a lie to bring it into war to fuel the military-economic machine, which in turn maintains American dominance in the world. It includes interviews with John McCain, Chalmers Johnson, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Gore Vidal and Joseph Cirincione. The film also incorporates the stories of a Vietnam War veteran whose son died in the September 11, 2001 attacks and then had his son’s name written on a bomb dropped on Iraq; a 23-year old New York man who enlists in the United States Army citing his financial troubles after his only family member died; and a former Vietnamese refugee who now develops explosives for the American military.

For all those interested in this should also check out Andrew Feinsteins Book The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, to understand how the Military Industrial Complex thrives off the arms trade and war

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This ground-breaking, which you can download here, uncovers how a group of private security firms and islamophobes are responsible for training law enforcement individuals on Islam and terrorism.

 

“‘Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the
Threat to Rights and Security’ is a “must read.” Thom Cincotta’s heavily
documented critical study uncovers and exposes the dangers to national security
posed by a group of private security firms operating outside o icially accredited
systems. These firms o er anti-terrorism training programs, driven by an
ideological agenda that trade facts for fiction and promote Islamophobic
conspiracy theories that demonize mainstream Islam and Muslim
communities.”


–John Esposito
Founding Director, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding,
Professor of religion, international affairs and
Islamic studies Georgetown University

“When the virus of Islamophobia is spread in courses and conferences for police
and intelligence o icers, as the report reveals, this does not bode well for
cooperation and a relationship of trust between law enforcement and American
Muslim communities. Most disconcerting is the revelation that those events are
sponsored or condoned by federal and local agencies and that participant fees
are paid by taxpayers.”

–Brigitte Nacos
Professor of Political Science,
Columbia University

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People . This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged form the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs–from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”–a long the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today. Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and internationl policies on their lives. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture. Director: Sut Jhally Biographical Summary: Dr. Jack Shaheen, Professor Emeritus of Mass Communication at Southern Illinois University, is a leading scholar of Arab representations in US popular culture. Shaheen is the author of the groundbreaking study The TV Arab and, most recently, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, the most comprehensive review of Arab screen images ever published. Analyzing over 900 Hollywood films made from 1896 to 2004, Dr. Shaheen exposes American cinema’s systematic and pervasive degradation and dehumanization of Arabs. Articles: “Jack Shaheen continues to be a piercing laser of fairness and sanity in pointing out Hollywood’s ongoing egregious smearing of Arabs.” Howard Rosenberg | Los Angeles Times TV Critic

Haaretz

By Zvi Bar’el

 

Who has better information: the Israel Defense Forces, which didn’t know that a group of right-wing activists planned to cross the border into Jordan last month, or the band of thugs living on West Bank hilltops, who know when the IDF plans to destroy every last hut? The IDF and the Shin Bet security service, which have been unable to determine who is behind the torching of mosques, or those same Jewish terrorists, who get information directly from officers, soldiers and Knesset members about plans for IDF operations against illegal settlement outposts?

Even as senior politicians are declaring that a cyber attack is like a declaration of war or a terror attack, it turns out that an intelligence war is taking place under their very noses, using simple, traditional, unglamorous tools like cell phones, Excel spreadsheets and chatting with “sources.”

But this actually isn’t an intelligence war. Transfers of information from the IDF to the settlers are nothing new; they have accompanied the settlement enterprise from the outset. Nor should this be surprising in a reality where the IDF is viewed as an enemy, while the hilltop thugs are viewed merely as mischievous kids.

As long as the IDF boasts of how many religious Jews it has among its combat ranks, it shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that religious Jews have an agenda. They either have friends in the settlements or are themselves are residents of settlements who won’t lend a hand to house demolitions there, even if the houses were built illegally. For some, service in the IDF is conditional on not receiving orders that contradict the divine decrees transmitted by their rabbis. They don’t view passing on information about plans to destroy their homes as a crime, but as a religious obligation.

Would the IDF be willing on this account to forgo the service of an entire community that it views as “the salt of the earth”? Would it be willing to exclude them from army service the way it does many Israeli Arabs?

After all, the exemption Israeli Arabs receive from IDF service rests in part on the desire not to put them into a situation in which they would have to fight their brothers across the border. Settlers similarly understand that IDF soldiers won’t fight their brothers from the territories.

Moreover, anyone who views passing information to settlers as serious espionage, even treason, must in the same breath define that band of thugs as an enemy of the state. But as long as the prime minister refrains even from calling the torchers of mosques and uprooters of olive trees “terrorists,” much less enemies of the state, the suspicions of “espionage” leveled against MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) are pathetic.

Elkin is no more of a criminal than those who have hitherto allowed these illegal buildings to go up – the same buildings about which he reported on plans to demolish, or not demolish. Indeed, he has more integrity than those who, for months and years, have been making a mockery of the High Court of Justice, which ordered these buildings destroyed, or than those who knew in advance that these buildings were slated to be built on privately-owned Palestinian land, or than those who portray the leaking of this “secret” information to the settlers as a blow to the IDF’s most deeply-held secrets.

The one that should really be worried is the Yesha Council of settlements, which always knew how to gather reliable information on the IDF’s plans quickly and effectively. Suddenly, under its nose, a parallel intelligence organization has sprung up, comprised of thugs who undermine the council’s sovereignty. Until now, the council itself had been the official underminer of IDF sovereignty in the West Bank.

Elkin did not reveal state secrets. His main crime is that because of him, that game of winks and nods that has been conducted for years between the IDF and its governmental masters from both right and left on one hand, and the settlers on the other, has been revealed in all its nakedness. All he did was tear the remnants of the veil off the face of the reality that everyone already knew quite well: a reality in which the IDF, the sovereign power in the territories, was ordered to shoot itself in the foot.

The IDF has the unfortunate duty to both assume responsibility for the security of those hilltop thugs, allow them to build their illegal shacks, and also, when necessary, destroy those very same shacks – with a wink and a nod, of course. It must be stealthy and effective when it is allowed to use its sovereign power, but it knows this power is a sieve.

If the IDF doesn’t leak the “secret” of which heap of boards in the shape of a hut it plans to sic its bulldozers on, some MK or minister surely will. That’s how it has always been, and that’s how it will be in the future as well.

Washington Post

By Craig Whitlock

The Marine Corps said Wednesday that it is investigating the origins of a video on the Internet that purports to show Marines in combat gear urinating on the corpses of three Taliban insurgents.

The brief video, which runs for less than a minute, began circulating on Web sites early Wednesday. It depicts four Marines laughing as they relieve themselves while standing over three prostrate bodies.

A caption asserts that the Marines are part of a scout sniper team with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, an infantry unit from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Members of the unit were deployed to Afghanistan last year but returned in September.

Capt. Kendra N. Hardesty, a Marine Corps spokesman, said officials would “fully investigate” the matter but so far have been unable to verify the video’s authenticity or if members of the battalion were involved.

“The actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps,” she said in a statement.

There was no way to determine independently where the video was filmed or the identities of those involved.

The caption refers to the corpses as “dead Talibans,” but it was unclear if they were civilians or fighters killed after a battle. The bodies are dressed in Afghan-style clothing; the chest of one male corpse appears to be soaked in blood.

Digital videos and photography have become increasingly common on the battlefield and many of the amateur productions wind up on the Internet. On occasion, the trend has caused severe embarrassment for the U.S. military, or in rare cases, such as the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, triggered international controversy and legal action against those involved.

The Pentagon has sent mixed messages on social media, reviewing troops’ blogs for inappropriate content and classified information at the same time as it has encouraged units and commanders to communicate through Facebook. In embracing social media the Pentagon has effectively acknowledged that it simply cannot stop the flood of data and images from the battlefield.

In 2010, members from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division photographed themselves posing with corpses of Afghan civilians who were gunned down by a self-proclaimed “kill team” of rogue soldiers. In that case, however, the Army confiscated hundreds of photographs and successfully kept them out of the public domain.

Telegraph

MI5 and MI6 are expected to be cleared of allegations that they were complicit in torture after a four year investigation.

By Duncan Graham

Despite years of allegations against the security and intelligence services by terrorism suspects, Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service have now concluded that there is no case to answer, sources have told the Daily Telegraph.

Both the police and Kier Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, are to make a statement explaining the decision.

A statement issued last night by the Crown Prosecution Service said they would announce “a number of decisions in relation to the investigations into the alleged ill treatment of detainees.”

Sources say the Director of Public Prosecution will say that no evidence has been found that officers from either service were aware of the mistreatment of prisoners.

The Metropolitan Police investigation, sparked by allegations by terrorist suspects released from Guantanamo Bay, has led to a public inquiry into the security and intelligence services.

The Gibson inquiry into the treatment of prisoners abroad, which has been boycotted by human rights organisations, can now go ahead following the conclusion of criminal proceedings.

But there will be anger among many intelligence officials that such serious allegations have been allowed to gain common currency.

The decision comes almost exactly ten years after the opening of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

It is not alleged that British officials mistreated prisoners themselves but that they allowed torture to take place by foreign government, including the US.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said in November last year that allegations of British complicity in extraordinary rendition leading to torture “undermined Britain’s standing in the world as a country that upholds international law and abhors torture.”

He said that torture was “unacceptable in any circumstances” and added: “It is abhorrent, it is wrong, and Britain will never condone it.”

At the same time he said Britain should have “great pride in the history, standards and ethos” of the intelligence services.

“The dedication and professionalism of the people who work for our agencies and the accountability to democratic government within which they operate has few equals, and possibly no equals, among any of their counterparts,” he added.

The government has paid out £14m to 16 Guantanamo detainees, including Shaker Aamer, who is still in the US military prison.

The payments were made because MI5 and MI6 felt secret intelligence would be made public in court and resources were being diverted from saving lives.

A series of previous investigations, claiming that the intelligence and security services had allowed mistreatment to take place by the Americans and other foreign intelligence services, have also led to no action being taken.

Baroness Scotland, then the Attorney General, rejected five allegations made by the organisation Human Rights Watch in 2010 because four had already been considered by British courts.

A senior MI5 officer was cleared of threatening Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantanamo prisoner in November 2010 after an investigation lasting two years.

Mr Mohamed had claimed that an officer, referred to as “Witness B”, knew the Americans planned to send him to Morocco to be tortured because the officer offered him a cup of tea and told him: “Where you are going you will need a lot of sugar.”

However the Metropolitan Police Serious Crime Directorate continued a wider investigation into whether MI5 had facilitated the mistreatment of foreign prisoners by foreign countries.

MI6 referred an unidentified case involving alleged complicity in torture to the Attorney General in September 2009 who in turn referred it on to the Metropolitan Police.

The case is thought to refer to mistreatment that an officer witnessed by the Americans and reported to his superiors.

Sir John Sawers, the chief the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, said in 2010: “I am confident that, in their efforts to keep Britain safe, all SIS staff acted with the utmost integrity, and with a close eye on basic decency and moral principles.”

Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC Member of Parliament, the founder of Corruption Watch and author of a new book on the arms trade discussed the inner workings of both the formal and illicit trade in weapons — as well as the links between the two

Electronic Intifada

by Ali Abunima

 

The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) has become a full-time partner in the Israeli government’s efforts to spread its propaganda online and on college campuses around the world.

NUIS has launched a program to pay Israeli university students $2,000 to spread pro-Israel propaganda online for 5 hours per week from the “comfort of home.”

The union is also partnering with Israel’s Jewish Agency to send Israeli students as missionaries to spread propaganda in other countries, for which they will also receive a stipend.

This active recruitment of Israeli students is part of Israel’s orchestrated effort to suppress the Palestinian solidarity movement under the guise of combating “delegitimization” of Israel and anti-Semitism.

The involvement of the official Israeli student union as well as Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College in these state propaganda programs will likely bolster Palestinian calls for the international boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Paying students to spread Israeli propaganda online

This is our opportunity, as Israeli students, to provide hasbara [state propaganda] that is correct and balanced, to help in the struggle against the delegitimization of the State of Israel and against hatred of Jews in the world.

That is one of the exhortations in a Hebrew document issued by NUIS, and translated by The Electronic Intifada, inviting Israeli students to apply for a program to help spread Israel’s message.

The project seeks to take advantage of the fact that “Many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.”

The paid scholarship will allow them to get training and then work from home for five hours per week for a year to “refute” what it calls “misinformation” about Israel on social networking sites.

Among the stated goals of the scholarships is “to deepen and expand hasbara activities of students in the State of Israel.” The document explains:

The Internet allows uncontrolled access to content from marginal groups and therefore can influence many audiences who are exposed to such information, particularly young people who are more easily influenced.

The Internet, then, is used as a major tool for the dissemination of anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel and of Jews and thus the Internet is also the place to battle against such sites, pull the ground from under them and to provide reliable and balanced information.

Work from the “comfort of home”

The NUIS program document explains:

After training, the student will begin his activities. The student will do the activities in the comfort of his home, where every week he will be obligated to about 5 hours of activities for a period of one calendar year (not academic year). Students will be paid a total of NIS 7,500 [$2,000] to perform the tasks of the project, at least 5 hours weekly for a total of 240 hours of activities under the project umbrella.

What is completely missing from the program is any indication that criticism of Israel could be valid. Rather the National Union of Israeli Students apparently seeks to indoctrinate Israeli students that every criticism of Israel is “hate” and “anti-Semitism” and that the Internet should be seen as a battlefield on which they are foot soldiers.

Using e-learning tools for government propaganda

An interesting aspect of the NUIS program is that it uses the common open source virtual learning environment Moodle as its interface with program participants. This interface can be found at students.digitalchange.co.il.

Whereas Moodle was designed for education – to spread mind-opening learning beyond the constraints of geography – the Israeli innovation here is to use it for mind-narrowing propaganda: getting students to be uncritical, to not think for themselves, but rather to spread Israel’s state-sponsored propaganda.

See the world, spread more propaganda

NUIS has also partnered with the Jewish Agency, the Israeli state body that encourages Jews from around the world to settle on stolen Palestinian land, to spread propaganda on college campuses around the world.

The Jewish Agency website announces, as translated from Hebrew by Dena Shunra for The Electronic Intifada:

For the first time in Israel – a unique, world-encompassing scholarship, in cooperation between the Student Union and the Jewish Agency.

Every year the Jewish Agency of Israel sends approximately 150 emissaries to various places around the world – North America, England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy and South America, who engage in Jewish education and hasbara in three main streams – Hillel emissaries (to campuses around North America), community emissaries and youth movement emissaries.

Training for these overseas missions for successful applicants will take place at Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College, after which the would-be missionaries “will set off for a one-year mission in the various Jewish communities around the world, and will also receive a scholarship of up to NIS 5,000 [$1300].”

Applications are open to Israeli citizens who have lived in the country for three years, those who have completed service in the Israeli army, and those who speak foreign languages, among other criteria.

A student union in the service of the state

In most countries student unions often find themselves at odds with state authorities, fighting for the rights of students. But it would appear that Israel’s “student union” does not so much represent students and fight for their rights, but represents the state in the state’s efforts to recruit students to do its political bidding.

In this sense, the NUIS functions in a very similar way to Israel’s “trade union” the Histadrut.

Who funds NUIS and what role do they play in government propaganda efforts?

See: Israel’s “pretty face”: How National Union of Israeli Students does government’s propaganda dirty work


Translation: Students in the Struggle against Anti-Semitism on the Internet

National Union of Israeli Students

Students in the Struggle against Anti-Semitism on the Internet

Vision and background:

The National Union of Israeli Students [NUIS] unites about 300,000 students from all over the country. NUIS promotes the goals and objectives of students, guards the status of students and impacts the public agenda in all aspects from the perspective that the future generation should be a full partner in shaping the Israeli reality of tomorrow.

For young people the Internet is first of all a tool for work and study. Many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English. Like other web users, students encounter anti-Semitic websites disseminating hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews on the Internet.

In recent years use of the Internet for work, finding information and leisure has become accepted and common all over the world. Alongside the development of the Internet and its use, websites have developed that disseminate anti-Semitic and false information that one could not find a publisher [for] in the pre-Internet age.

The Internet allows uncontrolled access to content from marginal groups and therefore can influence many audiences who are exposed to such information, particularly young people who are more easily influenced.

The Internet, then, is used as a major tool for the dissemination of anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel and of Jews and thus the Internet is also the place to battle against such sites, pull the ground from under them and to provide reliable and balanced information.

In the present reality, in which the Internet has become a key tool in spreading anti-Semitism, and given that most students use this medium, it is requested that Israeli students will be the ones to lead the battle against hostile websites.

The following proposed scholarships will allow students to map the anti-Semitic websites and to deal with what is said on them. During the project students can work on social networks to refute misinformation comprehensively available throughout this medium.

  • This is our opportunity, as Israeli students, to provide hasbara [state propaganda] that is correct and balanced, to help in the struggle against the delegitimization of the State of Israel and against hatred of Jews in the world.

Project goals

  1. To deal with, struggle [against] and reduce dissemination of anti-Semitism on the Internet;
  2. To deepen and expand hasbara activities of students in the State of Israel;
  3. To increase the awareness and involvement of the National Union of Israeli Students, local student associations, and students in general about what is happening in the world concerning Jews and the status of Israel.

Student activities

After training, the student will begin his activities. The student will do the activities in the comfort of his home, where every week he will be obligated to about 5 hours of activities for a period of one calendar year (not academic year). Students will be paid a total of NIS 7,500 [$2,000] to perform the tasks of the project, at least 5 hours weekly for a total of 240 hours of activities under the project umbrella.

The scholarship will be given to the student at three periods; in April, in August at the NUIS scholarship award ceremony, and in November.

Students will be admitted into the project only if they are members of student union at their institution of higher learning, provided such institution is a member of NUIS. Applications are made through the NUIS website www.nuis.co.il at the scholarships page.


Translation: Student Union and Jewish Agency scholarship

Shacham Scholarship – Jewish Agency and Student Union

A scholarship which is a mission – the Jewish Agency and Student Union

Shacham – Mission, Education, Action

For the first time in Israel – a unique, world-encompassing scholarship, in cooperation between the Student Union and the Jewish Agency.

Every year the Jewish Agency of Israel sends approximately 150 emissaries to various places around the world – North America, England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy and South America, who engage in Jewish education and hasbara in three main streams – Hillel emissaries (to campuses around North America), community emissaries and youth movement emissaries.

The scholarship introduces program participants with content relevant to the position, in a 12-meeting course, which is held every other weeks and deals with various issues:

  • Jewish identity
  • Israeli society
  • Tikkun Olam [the religious obligation to repair the world – or make it better]
  • Hasbara skills
  • History of the Nation of Israel in modern times
  • and more…

The course is experiential and includes lectures from the very best lecturers in the country, an active and reflective workshop, an educational experience of collaboration and coping both intellectually and emotionally with a variety of different topics. In August 2012, course graduates will set off for a one-year mission in the various Jewish communities around the world, and will also receive a scholarship of up to NIS 5,000.

The course will be held in four regional centers:

  • South: Sapir College/Ben Gurion [University]
  • Center: Tel Aviv University
  • Jerusalem: the Hebrew University
  • North: the Haifa University.

Eligibility for application:

  • Students in their last years of study for an academic degree;
  • Holding Israeli citizenship and having lived in Israel for at least 3 years.
  • Having completed military or national service.
  • With good command of English/Russian/Spanish/French/Portuguese/or other languages.
  • Having experience as camp counselors, teachers, and the ability to speak publicly.
  • Having an affinity to Judaism and the Israeli culture and familiarity with Diaspora Jewry.

Admittance to the program is conditional upon passing the screening process, which will be held in November-December 2011 at the various campuses.

Applications can be filed here: [http://shlichut.org.il/?yI3AokS1]
For further information, call Karen at 02-621623

Al Jazeera

by Dahr Jamail

Doctors and residents blame US weapons for catastrophic levels of birth defects in Fallujah’s newborns

Fallujah, Iraq – While the US military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah in 2004 for what are being described as “catastrophic” levels of birth defects and abnormalities.

Dr Samira Alani, a paediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.

“We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine,” Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.

As of December 21, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.

“There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we’ve never seen them until now,” she said. “So when I describe it all I can do is describe the physical defects, but I’m unable to provide a medical term.”

‘Incompatible with life’

Most of these babies in Fallujah die within 20 to 30 minutes after being born, but not all.

Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.

Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.

“This is the first instance of something like this in all our family,” Rahim told Al Jazeera. “We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?”

Dr Alani told Al Jazeera that in the vast majority of cases she has documented, the family had no prior history of congenital abnormalities.

Alani showed Al Jazeera hundreds of photos of babies born with cleft palates, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.

She told Al Jazeera of cases of “thanatophoric dysplasia”, an abnormality in bones and the thoracic cage that “render the newborn incompatible with life”.

Rahim said many of his relatives that have had babies after 2004 are having problems as well.

“One of them was born and looks like a fish,” Rahim said. “I also personally know of at least three other families who live near us who have these problems also.”

For now, the family is worried how Abdul will fare in school when he is enrolled next year. Maloud Ahmed Jassim, Abdul’s grandfather, added, “We’ve seen so many miscarriages happen, and we don’t know why.”

“The growth on his back is so sensitive and painful for him,” Rahim said. “What will happen in school?”

Jassim is angered by a lack of thorough investigations into the health crisis.

“Why is the government not investigating this,” he asked. “Western media seem interested, but neither our local media nor the government are. Why not?”

In April 2011, Iraqi lawmakers debated whether the US attacks on the city constituted genocide. Resolutions that called for international prosecution, however, went nowhere.

Scientific proof

Alani, along with Dr Christopher Busby, a British scientist and activist who has carried out research into the risks of radioactive pollution, collected hair samples from 25 parents of families with children who have birth defects and sent them to a laboratory in Germany for analysis.

Alani and Busby, along with other doctors and researchers, published a study in September 2011 from data obtained by analysing the hair samples, as well as soil and water samples from the city.

Mercury, Uranium, Bizmuth and other trace elements were found.

The report’s conclusion states:

“Whilst caution must be exercised about ruling out other possibilities, because none of the elements found in excess are reported to cause congenital diseases and cancer except Uranium, these findings suggest the enriched Uranium exposure is either a primary cause or related to the cause of the congenital anomaly and cancer increases. Questions are thus raised about the characteristics and composition of weapons now being deployed in modern battlefields.”

“As doctors, we know Mercury, Uranium and Bismuth can contribute to the development of congenital abnormalities, and we think it could be related to the use of prohibited weapons by the Americans during these battles,” Alani said.

“I made this link to a coroner’s inquest in the West Midlands into the death of a Gulf War One veteran… and a coroner’s jury accepted my evidence,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It’s been found by a coroner’s court that cancer was caused by an exposure to depleted uranium,” Busby added, “In the last 10 years, research has emerged that has made it quite clear that uranium is one of the most dangerous substances known to man, certainly in the form that it takes when used in these wars.”

In July 2010, Busby released a study that showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks. The report also showed the sex ratio had declined from normal to 86 boys to 100 girls, together with a spread of diseases indicative of genetic damage similar to but of far greater incidence than Hiroshima.

Dr Alani visited Japan recently, where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between 1-2 per cent. Alani’s log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the affected areas of Japan.

A contaminated country?

In Babil Province in southern Iraq, the head of the Babil Cancer Centre, Dr Sharif al-Alwachi, said cancer rates have been escalating at alarming rates since 2003, for which he blames the use of depleted uranium weapons by US forces during and following the 2003 invasion.

“The environment could be contaminated by chemical weapons and depleted uranium from the aftermath of the war on Iraq,” Dr Alwachi told Al Jazeera. “The air, soil and water are all polluted by these weapons, and as they come into contact with human beings they become poisonous. This is new to our region, and people are suffering here.”

The US and UK militaries have sent mixed signals about the effects of depleted uranium, but Iraqi doctors like Alwachi and Alani, and along with researchers, blame the increasing cancer and birth defect rates on the weapon.

Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of Uranium in Iraq, has been researching the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqis since 1991. He told Al Jazeera he personally measured radiation levels in the city of Kerbala, as well as in Basra, and his Geiger counter was “screaming” because “the indicator went beyond the range”.

Alani explained that she is the only doctor in Fallujah registering cases of congenital abnormalities.

“We have no system to register all of them, so we have so many cases we are missing,” she said. “Just yesterday a colleague told me of a newborn with thanatophoric dysplasia and she did not register it. I think I only know of 40-50 per cent of the cases because so many families have their babies at home and we never know of these, and other clinics are not registering them either.”

The hospital where Alani does her work was constructed in the Dhubadh district of Fallujah in 2008. According to Alani, the district was bombed heavily during the November 2004 siege.

“There is also a primary school that was built nearby, and from that school alone three teachers developed breast cancer, and now two of them are dead,” Alani said. “We get so many cases from this area, right where the hospital is.”

Even with a vast amount of anecdotal evidence, the exact cause of the health crisis in Fallujah is currently inconclusive without an in-depth, comprehensive study, which has yet to be carried out.       

But despite lack of governmental support, and very little support from outside Iraq, Alani is determined to continue her work.

“I will not leave this subject”, she told Al Jazeera. “I will not stop.”