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Jamail reports: "While the US military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah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."

Doctors are investigating an explosion of birth defects that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges, 9/10/04. (photo: AFP)
Doctors are investigating an explosion of birth defects that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges, 9/10/04. (photo: AFP)



Fallujah Babies: Under a New Kind of Siege

By Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera

06 January 12

 

hile the US military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah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 dysplasiaand 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."

 

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+9 # maveet 2012-01-06 20:04
Collateral damage, or intentional depopulation??
 
 
+11 # sandyboy 2012-01-06 22:21
How much more can we heap upon the ordinary Iraqis, people the West expects to be grateful for the "liberation" we bestowed on them in return for control of their oil? Crime of the last century drags on into this one. Significant that the story comes from the respected Al Jazeera, which the US govt tried to bomb into silence while claiming it was just a terrorist propaganda tool. Can we ever make up for what has been done to these people?
 
 
+9 # Fight the Reich 2012-01-07 05:36
Depleted uranium is WELL proven to cause birth defects described in this article; So occurring in Fallujah is a no-brainer giving the benefit of reasonable doubt to the likelihood of such an atrocity. HEY AMAIRKA AND AMERICA, THIS ARTICLE IS SPEAKING TO YOU. ~~~ Dr. Alani et al must present a DOCUMENTED case to the world; And I suggest she and her professional community do so by a dedicated website posting their claims and documented evidence case by case with photographs of the mutilated children. If Iraq medical professionals and concerned advocates care, then there is no reason not to have more than ample qualified volunteers to make such a website a global treasure IF documentation leaves no room for valid dispute. Google: > images iraq war casualties
 
 
+12 # RMDC 2012-01-07 06:47
This is really horrific. We all knew at the time it was happening -- i.e., using depleted uranium and chemicals -- that there would be birth defects.

There are about 3 million people in Vietnam who have serious birth defects caused by Agent Orange. In the Treaty of Paris, the US promised Vietnam $4 billion to take care of such people. The US has never paid a dime, but Vietnam has paid war reparations to the US for many years.

Can there be such injustice in the US? The US does this sort of thing in every country where it fights a way -- and that amounts to about 100 countries since the end of WW II. Using weapons like depleted uranium, white phosphorus is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, a war crime. How come there has been no charges by the International Criminal Court? I know the US under Bush withdrew from the ICC, but that does not stop anyone from filing charges against the US at the ICC or world court.

Did the US declare war on children? Even children who were born many years after 9-11. How can these children be made to bear the costs of war? The US will never be a just nation until it accepts the responsibility for all the suffering cause by its wars. The US is just as bad as Nazi Germany. At least Germany has paid reparations and apologized to the world for Hitler. When will we do the same for Bush/Cheney/Oba ma?
 
 
+10 # RMDC 2012-01-07 07:10
Iraq is a holocaust. The US has been using illegal chemical weapons there since 1991. In total since 1991, some 2-3 million people have been killed, 4-5 million are refugees, most have no clean water or sewage treatment, and we don't know how many children have birth defects or urnanium levels in their bodies which will result in cancer.

The USG knows all of this. They do the research. They know the long term effects of the bombs they use.

I propose that we build an Iraq Holocaust Museum in Washington DC on the mall so that no one will forget what happened there over the last 20 years. It should be filled with exhibits showing exactly what US war does to people in small and poor nations. There is a precedent for this. There already is a Holocaust Museum in DC. We could build the Iraq Holocaust Museum right beside it in the old Mint building. Maybe if the whole street were lined with Holocaust Museums, some politician or journalist would get the picture.
 
 
+10 # Phlippinout 2012-01-07 08:30
That is what a christian nation gives the world? Poison delivered in bombs. Oh the karma of the US is frightening. Makes you want to stop spending money that feeds the filthy beast! The US is still the killing nation it started as. God forgive me for paying the tax money that keeps killing innocent children and adults. If i could stop it I surely would. Democrats, republicans are all toxic
 
 
+4 # Fight the Reich 2012-01-07 14:13
Quoting fightback:
If i could stop it I surely would.


The question for each and every one of us is "what have I done to effectively contribute to trying to stop it". No matter what the cost is on our time, comfort and livelihood etc, it pales to the MILLIONS of innocent war victims time, comfort and livelihood WE have have turned into Hell by not preventing *Amairka's MIC / Fourth Reich for being every bit what Hitler was to other countries (*not to be confused with our beloved and terribly wounded America, nor should USA be confused with the United Snakes of Amairka).
 
 
+4 # futhark 2012-01-07 12:42
So, who has been guilty of using "Weapons of Mass Destruction"? Answer that, Neocons!

We need an international meeting to revise the Hague Conventions on a regular basis, sort of like the Olympics being held every 4 years. I think once every decade may help keep the world updated on the issue of inhumane technological weapons. Right now, it seems like we just sit around waiting for the next outrage before anyone says anything and then nothing gets done, anyway...
 
 
+5 # Fight the Reich 2012-01-07 14:34
It is past time to start brainstorming ideas and discussions in search for the very best ways to depose and uproot the MIC / Amairka Inc / Fourth Reich that the great President Eisenhower warned us in volumes about; In the most humane manners possible ... thus the need for brainstorming before the storm troopers NDAA / Patriot Act / Homeland Security violence in the USA makes it evermore difficult to defeat the Reich humanely. And by God President Eisenhower should know (and did). And we should never lose sight, motivation and momentum to prosecute the empire's chief criminals as they have done the sacrificial lamb fall guys they've made of some of our dear Soldiers trained and brainwashed to do what they did.

And by the way, watch for terrible diseases and birth defects erupting among our terribly abused dear Gulf War II Soldiers just as it silently has among GWI Soldiers, particularly lukemia from depleted uranium.

God Bless our dear young Soldiers, particularly during the time it takes them to wake up from their terrible brainwashing exhibited by incalculable war crimes of which most go un-noticed by outsiders.
 
 
0 # RMDC 2012-01-08 10:39
Fight the Reich -- birth defects and cancers among US veterans have already been detailed in a documentary called "Metal of Dishonor." There's also a book by a top military researcher who was fired because his research came to the wrong conclusion -- i.e., that DU does cause birth defects and cancer and other health problems. Sorry I can't remember his name. He worked at Dover Air Force base.

The right way to depose the neo-con-nazis is a tax resistance. If 20 million people stopped paying taxes until the current neo-cons in the white house and congress resigned and special elections were scheduled, things would happen. Hopefully, OWS will move in the direction of a "we won't pay for the military industrial banking complex anymore" movement. Jan. 1, 2013 could be tax refusal inauguration day. On that day, people would stop paying federal income tax. It is easy to do. Just change your W-4 to zero withholding. There's even a line on the W-4 for this.
 
 
0 # Fight the Reich 2012-01-09 19:04
You cannot imagine how much I've brainstormed to find a way to demonstrably refuse to pay taxes, which fuel the war machine and subsidize fat cat crooks trickle-UP welfare. But alas, about the only people that can refuse to pay taxes are people without property for the Govt to confiscate for non-payment of taxes; The govt will send a team out to serve paper physically attached to such properties whereby the rightful owner cannot even touch the property without the immediate danger of sitting in jail while the IRS rapes their assets to set examples to others, voila the bright colored seizure notices slapped on the properties / posessions. BUT I'M ALL EARS. The very nature that has led the Empire to grow to the point of having it's stranglehold upon us today, is the strict resistance the Empire has had on any and all efforts to legislate selective check-off taxes where the taxpayer chooses what programs his / her taxes may be used for; And of course trickle-UP welfare has enough minions and wanna-be's political voting clout to maintain status quo BECAUSE they know that a critical mass of taxpayers would not pay for the Reich's war machine nor pay trickle-UP welfare. Meanwhile the fat cat crooks have a LOT of money to spend on tax lawyers so they CAN avoid taxes. Sieg Heil United Snakes #
 

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