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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Iraqis Killed for Cooperating with U.S. Troops

Aired August 5, 2003 - 19:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In Iraq today, an American civilian was killed by a remote-controlled bomb while on a mail run. And for a second day, an Iraqi police station came under attack by anti-American crowds.
The institutions that are being put in place by the U.S. are having trouble gaining legitimacy, not just in parts of Iraq among some people but abroad, as well.

The Arab League voted today not to recognize Iraq's interim government. And as CNN's Rym Brahimi reports, some in Iraq seem willing to do just about anything to keep the American transition from succeeding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Amay Tazaki's (ph) world: heavy metal, guitars and magazines. His love for that music improved his knowledge of English.

In May, the 27-year-old guitarist, a computer science student, began working as an interpreter for the U.S. military. But last month, his world abruptly came to an end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I held him and there was a hole where a bullet hit his head. I so wish there was life in him and that I could save him, but it was too late.

BRAHIMI: His parents say their son had been threatened by students who called him a traitor for working with the Americans. Despite that, Amay (ph) continued his job with those his parents say he described as friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He didn't care about the money. He did it because he found in them people who understood him. They had cultural affinities.

BRAHIMI: The CD player near his bed was a gift from his American co-workers. They also exchanged pictures.

(on camera): Amay (ph) had been on death list (ph), one of many, like these, circulated around Baghdad, calling on Iraqis to kill informants, newly appointed officials, policemen and interpreters. Punishment for being so-called spies, traitors and infidels.

The U.S. authorities say they're aware of the problems, but in reality there's only so much they can do. (voice-over): The lists put considerable pressure on those who cooperate.

CPL. BILL RABENA, U.S. ARMY: There are still a dying faction that support Saddam. The Saddam Fedayeen are out there. It may not have anything to do with that, but there are some fanatical groups out there.

With the increase of threats, U.S. troops and military police have tried to protect the identity of their interpreters. When on raids, the interpreters wear masks. Some, like this young man, who asked us to call him Barry, has had to move away from their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they try to kill me and they ask every day about may me in my area but they can't find me. Because I change my place every day. And I live now in secret place.

BRAHIMI: He says people like him are helping Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told some people, we need to work together. We need to work beside the soldiers to build the new country. But they don't like that. They don't understand. The soldier, he left his country, he left his family, and he came here to help us. We need to work beside him.

BRAHIMI: A point of view Amay's (ph) father still remembers discussing with his son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): That's why he became an interpreter. In his view, and in my view, personally, translating is a humanitarian job, helping two sides communicate.

BRAHIMI: Amay's (ph) parents don't speak English. His mother says she didn't understand his music, but he would translate his favorite songs to her. And, she says, they were all about peace.

Rym Brahimi, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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