Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cactus and Bitterness Grow Where American Chopper Was Downed

Cactus and Bitterness Grow Where American Chopper Was Downed

That day, Oct. 3, 1993, became known as the Battle of Mogadishu, when an American mission against Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid went terribly wrong. The Somalis shot down not one but two Black Hawks that day -- one of them, call sign Super Six One, would change Maria Osman's life forever. "I hate the Americans," she says, her eyes maintaining their empty sadness rather than shifting to anger. "I hate them for what happened to my daughter. If I saw one I would cut them up into so many pieces." The crowd that has gathered around us laughs, but some begin to eye me suspiciously. Maria and her husband have three more children, she says, but both parents are jobless so they can't always afford to feed them. "I have no hope," she says, eyes downcast. "No hope for Somalia." I wander over to the exact spot where the chopper came down. Over the years, locals snatched up most of the wreckage as souvenirs. But a small bit of Black Hawk Super Six One is still here. Another woman in the crowd shouts that she lost four family members in the fighting that day, including a child. This seems to agitate the crowd of 50 or so people. "Why did you bring a white man here?" one of them demands from Duguf, my interpreter. While I continue to videotape, Duguf taps me on the shoulder and nods toward the truck. We make haste just as fingers begin to point and voices grow louder and angrier. Somalia is a failed nation-state, as still-teetering Afghanistan once was.

For the past 14 years it has existed without a central government. Although I have never covered Somalia, I had heard enough stories from colleagues about it. It's a place where human life has little meaning, where feuding clan militias, juiced up on khat (a chewable stimulant herb), roar down dusty backstreets in "technicals" (pickup trucks modified with anti-aircraft or machine guns mounted on the bed). In Somalia a show of force is the only way to get from one block to another without getting shaken down for cash by other heavily armed gunmen at ad hoc roadblocks. One warlord, Duguf tells me, bragged that he was making the equivalent of $40,000 a day in Somalia by operating dozens of roadblocks throughout the area. Even empty passenger buses must pay between $4 and $6 at each blockade, a fortune in a country where the average annual income is only $600 (according to 2004 CIA estimates).

A major misstep in the operation, acknowledged even in the U.N.'s own independent inquiry, was a United States-led attack on what was believed to be a safe house in Mogadishu where members of Aidid's Habr Gedir clan were supposedly meeting to plan more violence against U.S. and U.N. forces. In reality, elders of the clan, not gunmen, were meeting in the house. When the operation was over and the smoke had cleared, more than 50 of the clan elders, the oldest and most respected in their community, were dead. Many here agree that was the turning point in unifying Somalians against the U.S. and U.N. efforts here. It would also lead to the deaths of four journalists, killed by angry Somali mobs when they arrived to cover the incident.


At September 27, 2005 3:20 AM, Blogger John Sobieski said...

Reporters always journey to the cesspools of the Earth and then when they get killed, America is blamed. Somalia, Sudan, Darfur, southern Thailand, Gaza and on and on. All are the result of the cancer Islam now infecting and spreading throughout the West.

At September 27, 2005 5:57 AM, Blogger Mike H. said...

Excuse me I don't really trust Kevin Sites. He is the reporter who tried to shaft a marine in Falluja over the death of a terrorist. he doesn't impress me as a proponent of the truth, he's more like the proponent of an agenda.

At September 27, 2005 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed-isn't it amazing that the world wants the US "to do something" about corrupt leaders/governments, but most never lift a finger to help?** And then, as a way of thanks they demonize us to the rest of the world. Who needs it? I say, find yourself another scapegoat.

**and I'm NOT talking about the UN which is a totally corrupt, worthless organization which needs to be shut down and replaced with something that works!

At September 27, 2005 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


How right you are about Sites. He's nothing more than an apologist for radical Islam. Sad to say he is not alone in his biased reporting.

At September 27, 2005 5:38 PM, Blogger John B said...

Somehow words fail when Somalia comes up. Best leave it to P.J. O'Rourke quoting a U.S. soldier at the time: "give them better guns and ammunition and seal the border". That's it seal the border for that society has nothing to contribute.

BTW - all the dead that Site's writes about came as a result of the Somalis attacking the U.S. force. The U.S. forces responded with withering fire from helicopters and armed troops sent to rescue the initial force (who themselves needed rescuing).

Notice also how Sites (nor the Somalis) fails to mention the Pakistani UN peacekeepers who were butchered in an ambush - around 23 I believe.

The Somailis - fuck 'em, they're animals.

At September 27, 2005 8:26 PM, Blogger nouille said...

Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

At September 27, 2005 9:29 PM, Blogger sissyblue said...

What a strange interview. I watched a bit of the film and the woman was laughing through most of it. I think maybe the whole thing was staged,,,, maybe she was some actress in Nevada somewhere.. She behaved very oddly to say the least, and not at all like he described in his writing.

At September 30, 2005 9:14 AM, Blogger LyndonB said...

Since 1993 it seems like half the Somali population moved to Europe (mostly Holland) how many of them are former gangsters and criminals? How would you know anyway as there is no government in Somalia. I agree with the soldier. Seal the border and let them get on with it.


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