Leaders in Fallujah Condemn Mutilations; Call
for Return of Peace
TRANSCRIPT FROM MEETING AT FLT BUILDING 20 MAY 04
Muhammed Ibrahim Al-Juraissey, the mayor of Fallujah, and Maj. Gen. James N.
Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division. Gen. Mohammed Latif,
commander of the Fallujah Brigade opened the comments.
Gen. Latif – Everybody knows about the problems that happened in Fallujah. I
don’t want to go into details but you know there was no bad feelings and no
hatred between anyone. It’s just what happened is that somebody had started it
and therefore hopefully everything is under control.
Gen. Latif – People in Fallujah who were unemployed and hungry and they were for
several weeks trying to get some money to feed their families. And what happened
really is different from what Falljuans are about which is culture.
Religious leaders… and citizens of Fallujah have all denounced what happened in
Fallujah. And there was a religious fatwah that was distributed in most of the
mosques. The Fallujan citizens, they respect all the guests, if their foreigners
or locals or engineers or any kind of international dealer.
Of course what’s normal is peace. What’s not normal is the fighting and the lack
of peace. The speed of bringing back the peace shows the good intention of
everybody that wants peace back. Everybody knows the history of Fallujah and
that they love peace.
When the Coalition Force came to Iraq, they didn’t come to fight at all. They
came to get rid of the worst dictatorship on earth. It’s a bad example for the
history and the present. So we asked the Coalition Forces to help us get
construction back and get things back on the trail.
Happiness you can see on the face of Fallujans and their smiles, I see the same
thing on the faces of the Marines, our guests. Most importantly is that we work
together that is our main goal. And this is going to be an example for all Iraq.
And I hope peace will come and everyone is living happily in this country.
Mayor – After the incidents in Fallujah and after all the problems that happened
there was a lot of leadership, a lot of good people that came to Fallujah trying
to solve this problem. We had many cease-fires and finally you had the last
cease-fire where the peace started.
That was really established on (May) 10th when the American convoy was able to
go all then way into the city and stop by the office of the Mayor and after that
they came out. They had a meeting at my office with all the important people of
Fallujah and the council. After that, it left the city without having any
incidents or any threat against it. And this will show that we finally have
peace in the city that God has blessed us with.
And I agree with General Latif now to say that this city is the calmest city and
the most stable city in Iraq. I would hope that the steps of peace will be
accompanied by the steps of building and construction. Now we are working with
the Coalition Forces and the engineers to fix the homes work on construction of
the city. Since last week, we started compensations to all the people who were
hurt or to the one that they had properties destroyed in the fighting.
Even though this was a hard thing to do to get everything rolling, but with the
efforts of everybody and the help of everybody, now this is going very smooth
everybody is getting paid on time. I had two meetings and I was able to find out
that there are projects that are ready to be done in the city that are worth
hundreds of millions of dollars. And we hope we start soon with these projects
so the citizens can see the projects being done in the city.
About the accident that happened for the four contractors, the American
contractors in the city, the religious leaders have spoken about this. The
religious leaders came up with a fatwah… and this fatwah denounced the
mutilation of the bodies of anyone. Just like with any other religion, the
Muslim religion denounced this.
When it’s time to start with the projects, Fallujah’s going to be open for
anybody to go there. Mostly Iraqi contractors will be doing those and the
expertise will be by American engineers they’re welcome to do it. The American
engineers will be supervising the work of the Iraqis.
Gen. Latif – First, it helps us bring security into the city. Until now, there
wasn’t one incident that destroyed any security. Very soon, the ICDC and the
police will be taking care of the security of the city. Actually today or
tomorrow they can start the training of the Fallujah Brigade. And the police can
take care of the security in the city because Fallujah has some specialties in
The first day I entered Fallujah, the most or maybe 50 percent of the stores,
they were half open and full of merchandise. And when the peace came and the
people went back to their stores, they went back to find out that nobody had
touched their merchandise. That shows the high quality of the Fallujans. That’s
why I can tell they love peace. They have sworn they will have peace and they
I go every day to Baghdad and I always wish I could go back and sleep in
Fallujah because I don’t hear any shootings. It’s very safe in Fallujah. Today,
I saw six wedding convoys in the city. Everything is normal finally in Fallujah,
and the all the families have come back to their homes. The compensation has
been paid to all the people who were killed in demonstrations. Also there’s
going to be some compensation for all the stores and cars and houses and
everything that got destroyed in the city.
You see some weapons behind you. These are samples of weapons we have collected.
And Fallujah is going forward now toward construction.
Gen. Latif through interpreter -- Quickly, what he asked is there’s thousands of
people that were killed and wounded in Fallujah. Did we pay everybody? What the
general said is we already paid some of them we’re going to be paying every day
and some of the people we’re paying all the amount that they need. Also people
who were detained and who were released, they are also getting compensation,
which is a lot of them. And there’s a lot of other that we’re going to release.
It’s the people who came and gave up these weapons because they don’t think that
they need them anymore.
By law, people can have AK’s or guns, but they don’t have the right to have
launchers like this. And I don’t think nobody will need it again.
Gen. Latif through interpreter – He didn’t see any foreign fighters in Fallujah
Gen. Latif – We are not producing this. We don’t know exactly. It depends on the
feeling of the people and they are giving it to us. They more they are going to
agree or feel there is peace, the more they are going to come up with their
weapons. There’s no room in the houses for this kind of weapon.
About the weapons, this is what you see. There is going to be no problem by
having more and more weapons come out. The general said this is a time of peace
and generals don’t need to be speaking anymore.
Gen. Mattis. -- Some of them are already trained and that’s why we’ve got to see
what we’ve got trained. You’ve got to understand that officers are…okay what’s
Whether or not this model can serve for the rest of Iraq, whether or not it’s
These were people who were literally hiding behind women and children.
I’ve got my plan and by God, come hell or high water, I’m just going to execute
that plan no matter what. Our end state was all along, if you ask the Marines,
was no better friend worse enemy. We’re going to find a way to turn Iraq back
over to the decent people of Iraq. They’ve gone through three useless wars…
I’m telling you to go look at them. They’re able to make that shift in
mid-stride. That says something about their humanity and their discipline.
When we went in, I said we were going in. When we were there and we were
stopped, I said we were stopped with no offensive ops. When I decided to pull
back and turn over part of the burden I turned over some of the southern area. I
think you’re all aware we pulled out of part of the northern cordon. So we
pulled back. As they gained control of the city, the Fallujah Brigade did, as
you know I drove into the city, but we pulled back.
Reporter – Would this be a bad time for the troops to go back in? The Seabees,
for example, to do reconstruction projects or do you think this may need a
Gen. Mattis – I think the Fallujah Brigade needs to demonstrate it’s got
control. We already have Iraqi contractors going and doing it and the thing is,
every time we have Seabee doing something, we’re not taking any of this money
that we have for Iraq… that money goes to Iraqi contractors. They employ Iraqis.
There’s no need to have U.S. sailors, U.S. Marines, U.S. soldiers doing
something the Iraqis could do. That’s the way we’re going to get the country
back up. Not by going in and doing while they sit unemployed, sitting there
angry like your or I would be if we had foreign troops in our homes. So, we’re
trying to balance this thing with them coming in to do it. I have no need to put
U.S. troops in to do something their engineers are able to do.
Reporter – So would you be happy to keep, as long as Fallujah stays peaceful and
there’s no indication of any disturbance, would you be happy to keep all
Americans out of the city?
I wouldn’t be happy to do that. The only way you build trust out here is for us
to work together. We’ve seen it in Husaybah, where we had a dickens of a fight
and literally a couple days later, things had changed… (tape garbled) RPGs.
We’re finding out people with IED making material. They way you break down
distrust is by getting together and even if someone doesn’t like the big issues,
they don’t like American foreign policy, we don’t like certain things, when you
work together, you sweat together, you try to focus on things where we have
common cause, like sometimes the Iraqi police department, they don’t have to
Back in the 1940’s and 50’s they had British officers and NCOs in command of
Jordanian and the Jordan Legion. The Jordan Legion did not like the United
Kingdom and Great Britain. They didn’t like them. They were a very good
counter-terrorist force because they were going to take care of their Hassamite
king. And the British were (tape garbled). We don’t have to have… we don’t have
to agree on every issue, every international diplomatic issue for us to have
some kind of chance for peace in the streets of Fallujah or Husaybah or Ramadi.
We have to understand we have a common cause here to restore peace, stop the
violence, rebuild Iraq, the Americans get out of the way and move on. We don’t
do that by having two separate armed camps and never mixing the two.
Reporter – You said you have to see how the Fallujah Brigade if they can indeed
deliver. They have not proven themselves yet.
Gen. Mattis – Oh, well they starting. You look against the wall over there.
That’s a very healthy start.
(Reporter) That’s just a start.
Gen. Mattis – Well… yes, that’s a start. The trend is obviously in the right
Gen. Mattis – Like I said earlier, they’re still trying to get a hold of their
people. You know, like organizing. Some many things we take for granted, the
organization (tape garbled) You don’t know your full allegiance. Military units
aren’t like that. There’s an unlimited liability clause. When they say go attack
these guys, based on trust of each other… they’ve got to develop trust in each
Reporter – There was some confusion as to what he was able to do with
Gen. Mattis – He’s just going to have to take it in stride and toughen up a
little bit. Welcome to the real world. It’s not all black and white. We’re going
to do this in a way where first, cause no harm, do no harm. First thing you do
is go out and knock, we can say it’s a cordon and knock when an American with a
rifle steps to your door and you’re an Iraqi, We’ve got to be careful. We got to
make sure we’re there for a reason. So when we try to check this stuff out,
we’ll stop it in a heartbeat if we feel we’ve got bad intel. I will stop ten
hits to avoid getting some one guy we couldn’t get if we endangers or threaten
one family that we should not.
These guys are not the brightest enemy in the world, the one’s we’re up against.
It’s not like in Vietnam where you’ve got people sitting around at night and the
Viet Cong is fighting us, but the (tape garbled). We’re in charge and we’re
going to do this and that. All these people do is kill members of the household,
they destroy power lines, destroy bridges, they set off IEDs that kill Iraqis.
They don’t have a political endstate. So this is not something to be dignified
as insurgents or something like that. There is nothing nationalistic possible
about these people. The do not have a political endstate, these people, which is
also why they’re weak. I’ll tell you right now, I don’t get intelligence off a
satellite. Iraqis tell me who the enemy is. That is very dangerous for Iraqis.
You think about how much courage that takes when you’ve got to live with these
Gen. Mattis – For example, today broke ground on a new hospital wing. We got
started on that. Gen. Latif just talked to us about a youth center and computers
so they can get on the Internet, playground equipment for little kids. So we’re
going to continue those kinds of projects, things we would have been doing six
months ago had there not been someone fighting here.
Reporter – How many Marines, right now, around the city making their presence…
Gen. Mattis – I don’t want to get into numbers. 1st Marines – Regimental Combat
Team 1 – has got people in Saqlawiyah, Thar-Thar, Kharma, Abu Gharib… they’re
out there working with the people. Hopefully we’ll hand out more soccer balls
than we will throw grenades.
Gen. Mattis – I did not. It seldom came up in our coordination meetings. The
fact that some undisciplined people disappointed us horribly, all of it, is not
something that impacted us here. As a matter of fact is what I have done is, I
have four detention facilities inside my division – out near the Syrian border,
one aside of it, one in Ramadi, one here – at any time a tribal, civic or
religious leader wishes to see them, they do not ask them to dance. They can
come out. They will see us. We’ll take them straight in so they can see there is
no getting ready. (tape garbled) They can admire our detention facilities. They
have medical attention. When someone’s at our mercy, that’s what defines us out
Reporter – Tell us a little more what happened yesterday out near the Syrian
border. I understand Marines that were involved, but I believe they were in your
task force or were working together with your task force.
Gen. Mattis – What is the nature of your question?
Reporter – What happened yesterday at 3 a.m. in Al Qaim? Was there a wedding on?
A wedding celebration?
Gen. Mattis – You joined us a little late, as I said to the young lady here, I
said how many people how many people go to the desert 10 miles from the Syrian
border and hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization? Over two dozen
military-aged males… let’s not be naïve, let’s leave it at that.
Gen. Mattis – I can’t… I’ve seen the pictures, but I can’t…bad things happened.
Generally… in Fallujah, I never saw a Marine hide behind a woman or a child or
hold them in their house and fire out of the building. I don’t have to apologize
for the conduct of my Marines. I think the enemy that was here owes the entire
world an apology. (tape garbled) validation against us saying somehow they
suddenly shot at a wedding part in the middle of the desert… (tape garbled)
Gen Mattis – No, I was busy meeting with two of my commanders. I was busy. But
no, General Latif would never ask me to do that. No the mayor would never do
that. The mayor… this is a civilian matter. We’re trying to restore civilian
authority, not impose the American solution. If they can make it work, it’s
going to an Iraqi solution. All the doubters, who three weeks ago said it
couldn’t possibly work, are now grudgingly saying, well, something worked.
End of tape.