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US soldiers would kill civilians, says Marine

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

09 December 2004

A former US Marine has claimed that he saw American troops in Iraq routinely kill unarmed civilians, including women and children. He said he had also witnessed troops killing injured Iraqi insurgents.

Jimmy Massey, 33, a staff sergeant who served in Iraq before being honourably discharged after 12 years' service, said he had seen troops shooting civilians at road blocks and in the street. A code of silence, similar to that found in organised crime gangs, prevented troops from speaking about it.

"We were shooting up people as they got out of their cars trying to put their hands up," said Mr Massey. "I don't know if the Iraqis thought we were celebrating their new democracy. I do know that we killed innocent civilians." Mr Massey said US troops in Iraq were trained to believe that all Iraqis were potential terrorists. As a result, he had watched his colleagues open fire indiscriminately. In one 48-hour period, he estimated his unit killed more than 30 civilians in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad.

"I was never clear on who the enemy was," he explained. "If you have no enemy or you do not know who the enemy is, what are you doing there?" His claims were made during an immigration hearing in Toronto, Canada, to assess a claim for refugee status made by a former US soldier, Jeremy Hinzman. Mr Hinzman, 26, fled to Canada after refusing to go to Iraq with his colleagues in the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg.

Mr Hinzman is seeking permission to remain in Canada with his wife and child and believes he will face a court martial if he returns to the US. "We were told that we would be going to Iraq to jack up some terrorists," he told the hearing.

"We were told it was a new kind of war, that these were evil people and they had to be dealt with." Mr Hinzman is among several American soldiers seeking refugee status in Canada, hoping the country's opposition to the war will help.

Some 30,000 to 50,000 Americans fled to Canada during the Vietnam War and settled there.