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Posted: 9/26/2005 12:32:08 PM EDT
hotzone.yahoo.com/b//hotzone/blogs999

Cactus and Bitterness Grow Where American Chopper Was Downed
Posted by Kevin Sites

She lived here once, in a house behind this pitted dirt alleyway. But now, Maria Osman cannot bear to raise her head as she walks past.

This is, after all, the place where her already difficult life slipped the last few notches into misery, the place where pain can last a dozen years without pause. The place, she says, where an American Black Hawk helicopter fell from the sky and crushed her three-year-old daughter.

"There was not enough of her left to bury," she says, nervously covering her mouth with the end of her hejab (a traditional Muslim head scarf).

When American forces tried to protect the fallen chopper, gunfire broke out and Maria, still nearby the crash site, was hit. It took her two and half years to recover from the wound.

She pulls back the material covering her right arm to show me a brown, leathery roadmap of scar tissue that runs from above her wrist to below her shoulder. The arm is nearly worthless, Maria says, useful now only as another reminder of that day.

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 them"

"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.

Most of those who live here are part of the Habr Gedir clan -- connected by blood to Aidid.

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."

Homemade barbed wire

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.

Through my camera's viewfinder I can just make out some twisted fuselage under a dense thicket of cactus. Someone tells me the cactus was planted as a kind of homemade barbed wire, to preserve the memory by keeping people from carrying away what was left of the Black Hawk.

For many here, it's a memory that hardly seems ready to fade.

When the film "Black Hawk Down" premiered here in 2002, thousands went to see it. Going to a movie is easy for even the poorest of the poor here -- it costs only a penny.

Many were angered by the film, calling it propaganda that focused on the 18 Americans killed and 73 wounded in the 15-hour battle, when an estimated 600 Somalis were also killed.

And now they have learned the battle has been turned into a game for Xbox and PlayStation2, making a mockery they say, of a real-life tragedy.

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.

Welcome to Somalia

When my plane landed in Somalia on a remote airstrip 100 kilometers from Mogadishu earlier that day, I felt some of the same trepidation I felt before entering Afghanistan in late September 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.

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).

Despite Somalia's reputation, my trip here is easy enough, a regularly scheduled African Express Airways DC-9 flight landing on an airstrip in the middle of nowhere.

As soon as I exit the plane, Duguf, my fixer (local guide and translator), is waiting to greet me. I hired him over the Internet.

Duguf is famous in Somalia. A cameraman and stringer on retainer for Associated Press Television News (APTN), he makes a good living fixing for foreign journalists.

We leave the airstrip and stop near a shack on the roadside where eight heavily armed men hop in the back of Duguf's pickup truck.

Two of them have Russian-made RPK machine guns and bullet rounds worn bandolier-style around their bodies. The others are armed with the most popular assault rifle in the world, the AK-47, and are chock-a-block with extra magazines of ammo. They are dressed in a mix of Gulf War-era U.S. Army "chocolate chip" desert fatigues, T-shirts and counterfeit adidas tracksuits made in China.

Security team


This is my security team, essential for any outsider doing any kind of business in Somalia. Duguf put together a squad from different clans. That way, regardless of who they pass on the streets, they might be able to talk instead of shoot. Duguf pays his men with money, but some warlords pay their men in khat.

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).

When we arrive in the capital of Mogadishu I feel a twinge of deja vu. The city has the familiar patina of Third World poverty: dirt streets covered in garbage with corrugated metal shacks on each side where vendors sell anything they can get their hands on, from meat to brightly colored pillows. From a nearby mosque streams the sound of afternoon prayers being broadcast over a battered public address system.

Somalia's population of about 10 million -- 2.5 million in Mogadishu -- is predominantly Muslim.

Dead soldier dragged through the streets

So much of what many Americans, including myself, know about Somalia comes from watching news coverage of the aftermath of the Battle of Mogadishu, and the chilling image of Somalis dragging a dead American soldier through the streets.

It was a seminal moment for Americans who collectively shook their heads and wondered how Operation Restore Hope, a joint humanitarian effort to protect United Nations relief supplies from falling into the hands of warlords, degenerated into bloody combat.

Historians say the key moment was when the mission shifted from protecting food supplies to capturing Aidid.

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. According to U.N. officials, the agenda (which was advertised in the local newspaper) was to discuss ways to peacefully resolve the conflict between Aidid and the multinational task force in Somalia, and perhaps even to remove Aidid as leader of the clan.

17-minute combat mission

What eventually took place on July 12, 1993, was a 17-minute combat operation in which U.S. Cobra attack helicopters fired 16 TOW missiles and thousands of 20-millimeter cannon rounds into the compound.

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.

Concrete block of Swiss cheese


Duguf takes me back to the house where the elders had been meeting. Twelve years later, it is still standing but is nothing more than a concrete block of Swiss cheese. Large blast holes pock most of the walls, and pieces of metal rebar poke through the concrete. The back staircase is completely blown apart.

"That was to prevent (the elders) from escaping," Duguf says. "It was the first thing (the helicopters) shot at."

A family of squatters now occupies the building. A man is cutting his hair in the front yard while children play in the ruins.

He tells me, "We live here because we don't have the money for anything else."

Inside the building, where there was once so much death, there are now signs of life: charcoal cooking fires, pots and bowls, sleeping mats. On a wall in the front room the date 12.06.93 is written, and beside it, in Somali, the word "Remember."

Back outside, Duguf takes me to an intersection on the street.

"This is where Dan Eldon died"

"This is where Dan Eldon died," he says, pointing to the ground.

Eldon was a promising 22-year-old Reuters photographer who had spent much of his life in Africa. He also was a talented artist who made elaborate collages of his photographs and whatever scraps, wrapper, matchbooks or other images he could gather up. After Dan's death his mother turned them into a book, "The Journey is the Destination."

Eldon was clubbed and stabbed to death by Somalis enraged at the bloody carnage inside the destroyed house. Journalists Hos Maina, Hansi Kraus and Anthony Macharia also were killed.

Ironically, one who survived, but just barely, was the journalist who got to the site first, my friend and colleague Scott Peterson.

Duguf had been working for Scott as a driver at the time, and when Scott arrived on the scene after witnessing the attack from the roof of a local hotel, the crowd immediately surrounded him and began beating him.

He emptied his camera bag to the outstretched hands, trying to buy time, but then someone in the crowd struck him on the head with a machete.

According to Scott's account in his book "Me Against My Brother," Duguf shot the man with the machete with his 9-millimeter Beretta, then bundled Scott into the car and took him back to the hotel. Scott lived, but the attack reflected the anger and brutality of the crowd.

Cactus needles

Duguf tells me from that day forward a kind of blind, raging anger built up in Somalis, culminating in the Battle of Mogadishu three months later in which 18 American soldiers and as many as 600 Somalis died.

This October, 12 years will have passed since that ill-fated battle. Time has done little to blunt feelings here though, especially among Maria Osman and her neighbors. Their anger now seems as sharp and unforgiving as the cactus needles that protect the memory and remains of Black Hawk Super Six One.

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:34:34 PM EDT
I find it hard to feel sorry for someone who says that she hates Americans for trying to feed a starving people.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:36:33 PM EDT
I need to get into the warlord roadblock business.

$40,000 a day....
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:39:11 PM EDT
This incident happened under Bill Clinton's rein. I don't see the anti-war people coming out of the woodwork protesting the action.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:39:12 PM EDT
Fuck the Somalis.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:39:26 PM EDT
waaaaaaah!
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:40:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/26/2005 12:40:33 PM EDT by phatmax]
PSHHHTttt.... "Uh... this is your Captain speaking... we are currently cruising at 35,000 and our Give-A-Fuck Meter is pegged on ZERO.....Thank you for flying " We're Still The People Feeding Your Skinny Asses Airlines"'

The dumb bitch might still have her daughter if a MOTHERFUCKING Somali had not SHOT DOWN THE HELICOPTER. She might even have a better life of the WARLORDS didn't try to fight us at every turn all the while killing THOUSANDS of their OWN people.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:40:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Greenhorn:
I find it hard to feel sorry for someone who says that she hates Americans for trying to feed a starving people.



+1, I'd hate the people who shot the blackhawk down they are the sole reason for her misery.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:40:54 PM EDT
Who cares?
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:41:28 PM EDT
Canned sunlight is the best aid package we could send them.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:42:28 PM EDT
They're still bitter? Well, I'm still bitter as well! We try to help and they act like that?



"I have no hope," she says, eyes downcast. "No hope for Somalia."



Gee, I wonder why it's so f-ed up over there.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:43:59 PM EDT
Next time they need food they can put out an album.
http://www2c.airnet.ne.jp/stevie/charities/WE%20ARE%20THE%20WORLD.jpg
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:44:00 PM EDT
Let the continent kill itself and try again.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:44:06 PM EDT

And now they have learned the battle has been turned into a game for Xbox and PlayStation2, making a mockery they say, of a real-life tragedy.


It was available for the PC about 2+ years ago... I remember you could jump on top of the HMMWVs and go prone on the hood.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:44:36 PM EDT
I think that all somalis that hate the US should show this by boycotting US Aid to their pathetic ass countries.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:47:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Fuck the Somalis.



I think that pretty much sums it up.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:47:32 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Fuck the Somalis.



Well said.



- BG
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:48:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Fuck the Somalis.



Big +1.

We should have left that country to fuck itself.

Nothing in Africa is worth the life of a single US soldier.

Nothing.

I blame Bush Sr. for starting the relief effort.

I blame Clinton for continuing and escalating the relief effort into a UN nation building project.

And I blame Clinton for not FINISHING the mission when US blood was drawn the FIRST TIME long before the Blackhawk Down incident.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:48:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Wombat_SCSO:
They're still bitter? Well, I'm still bitter as well! We try to help and they act like that?



"I have no hope," she says, eyes downcast. "No hope for Somalia."



Gee, I wonder why it's so f-ed up over there.



Who wrote the article title "Let Africa go", or something similar? Africa has to fix itself

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:48:32 PM EDT
Look, Bitch. If there were a battle going on in my city I wouldn't have my kids standing in the fucking middle of shit!

I'd be inside to stay safe, DUMB ASS!
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:49:16 PM EDT
"Turd world"
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:49:17 PM EDT
Give her a chance at a green card she will be pushing people outta the way at the airport to leave that toilet country, they are all so full of shit, but would give thier left testicle or right ovarie to live in the USA, F^%k her!
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:50:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By markm:
Look, Bitch. If there were a battle going on in my city I wouldn't have my kids standing in the fucking middle of shit!

I'd be inside to stay safe, DUMB ASS!



1224561.12312 D When hit with an RPG, be sure to check your crash zone for small, unattended children.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:53:12 PM EDT
She was out walking the streets with a child when all this shit was going down?

Another fantabulous piece of journalism that asks no questions.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:53:22 PM EDT
Fuck 'em. Sooner or later, nature will takes its course again. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks. .

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:53:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/26/2005 12:57:08 PM EDT by M4]

Originally Posted By Greenhorn:
I find it hard to feel sorry for someone who says that she hates Americans for trying to feed a starving people.



Her kid was killed. Grounds for hatered among most of us too.

Though I don't give a rats ass what happens to her festering boil of a "country". Colonization was the best thing to ever happen to Africa....when left to their own devices, the fuckin' place turns in to one huge, homicidal, rape-infested, genocidal, disease ridden pile of flaming shit.

They want independence? Great. Take it.

Thank god for oceans.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:54:09 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:55:50 PM EDT
Came there to fucking feed their sorry asses, got shot at and played back and THEY hate us?


Have fun rotting in your 3rd World Hell Hole. You're life would have sucked without us ever being there.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:56:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Fuck the Somalis.




I concur!
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:56:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DnPRK:
Canned sunlight is the best aid package we could send them.



Or a can of Perri-Air!! Ahhhh, Spaceballs....
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:57:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By M4:

Originally Posted By Greenhorn:
I find it hard to feel sorry for someone who says that she hates Americans for trying to feed a starving people.



Her kid was killed. Grounds for hatered among most of us too.

Though I don't give a rats ass what happens to her festering boil of a "country". Colonization was the best thing to ever happen to Africa....when left to their own devices, the fuckin' place turns in to one huge, homicidal, rape-infested, genocidal, disease ridden pile of flaming shit.

They want independence? Great. Take it.

Thank god for oceans.



Who shot the chopper that fell on her kid?
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 12:59:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By WooDy_the_infidel:

Originally Posted By M4:

Originally Posted By Greenhorn:
I find it hard to feel sorry for someone who says that she hates Americans for trying to feed a starving people.



Her kid was killed. Grounds for hatered among most of us too.

Though I don't give a rats ass what happens to her festering boil of a "country". Colonization was the best thing to ever happen to Africa....when left to their own devices, the fuckin' place turns in to one huge, homicidal, rape-infested, genocidal, disease ridden pile of flaming shit.

They want independence? Great. Take it.

Thank god for oceans.



Who shot the chopper that fell on her kid?



She didn't....but I understand.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:00:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Fuck the Somalis.

yup. If they just want to bitch when we help, let them all die of AIDS. Fuck 'em.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:02:19 PM EDT
Hmmm!! Shes mad cause a helicopter fell out of the sky and landed on her daughter? Well arent her people the ones who shot the helicopter out of the sky while it was flying over her daughter?

I hate stupid people.....
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:04:15 PM EDT
Crushed between Islam and Socialism, the people of Africa are doomed.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:04:48 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:05:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/26/2005 1:05:39 PM EDT by MillerSHO]
Well Osama and Zerqawi (sp?) took Somalia as a win and empowered them and their cause that much further.

I'm still pissed about that and I want my own news article about it, do I get one?

No.

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:06:01 PM EDT

Historians say the key moment was when the mission shifted from protecting food supplies to capturing Aidid.


And why, pray tell, did that happen?

Maybe because Aidid was confiscating food and starving his enemies????

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:09:58 PM EDT
Somalia is what I envision America becomming if the Democrats were able to have free uncontrolled reign over America.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:10:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By WooDy_the_infidel:

Originally Posted By M4:

Originally Posted By Greenhorn:
I find it hard to feel sorry for someone who says that she hates Americans for trying to feed a starving people.



Her kid was killed. Grounds for hatered among most of us too.

Though I don't give a rats ass what happens to her festering boil of a "country". Colonization was the best thing to ever happen to Africa....when left to their own devices, the fuckin' place turns in to one huge, homicidal, rape-infested, genocidal, disease ridden pile of flaming shit.

They want independence? Great. Take it.

Thank god for oceans.



Who shot the chopper that fell on her kid?



To hear her tell it, American imperialist warmongers, persecuting the peace-loving Somali people, were flying over and said, "Hey! Look at that little girl! I'll bet I can crash this helicopter on top of her!"
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:12:44 PM EDT
I don't know which is worse, the Somalis for being so stupid or the author of that tripe/article who tried to pass it off as journalism. As soon as I read the part about the crowd getting angry and shouting, I was thinking 'puh-leeeeeaze beat the shit out of this guy.'

And as an aside, did any of you find parallels in the Somali attitude with that of certain unevacuated NOLA 'victims.' (Dat food wud'n even warm!)

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:15:38 PM EDT
I feel sorry for that woman. Sorry that the crashing Blackhawk missed her.

Fuck the rest of 'em, too. The messed up their country, they attacked the people that tried to help them, so let Darwin have his way with them for all I care.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:15:53 PM EDT
I never saw Somalia the same after reading Mike Durant's book "In the Company of Heroes".

For those of you who have not read it, He describes the part of the movie where he is struck in the face with a rifle buttstock. In the book, he goes back to say that it was actually the limb of one of his fallen comrades.

Never forget how much the world hates us, my friends...
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:16:01 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:19:25 PM EDT
So the woman is mad because her neighbors intentionally shot down the chopper, which accidentally fell on her daughter. She has 3 more children, but can't feed them, so they will starve to death. Her neighbors are mad cause they lost 600 Somali's who were trying to kill all the Americans they could.

I was there with the Marines from December to March. Aidid was a bad guy. Starvation was the tool of choice between the fighting clans. Had the Somali's supported the US effort (UN was an absolute joke) they would be a society again today.

They screed themselves with civil war. We were guilted into helping them, when it should have been a European UN effort. Then they fought us to steal the food we shipped in, sniped at us every day, shot at our convoys. Then we pulled out (as they wanted) and it got even worse because then no one could bring thier worthless asses food.

Sorry, but there's no sympathy from this former jarhead. They got what they deserved. Kicking out the white man has really worked out well for them, as it has for Zimbabwe. Now SA is taking land forcefully. History says that will work out just as well.....
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:19:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:20:20 PM EDT
Let them rot.

Once we're done with the International Space Station, we should draw an X, right on her mud hut, and come in for a perfect 1-point landing.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:21:46 PM EDT
The warlords who were hoarding the food and starving her family were preventing American aid from being distributed and shot down a helicopter who was trying to insure she and her daughter would be fed and it killed her daughter... And she hates America?

Wow.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:22:56 PM EDT
For some reason I doubt the chopper fell on her daughter.
Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:23:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By phatmax:
PSHHHTttt.... "Uh... this is your Captain speaking... we are currently cruising at 35,000 and our Give-A-Fuck Meter is pegged on ZERO.....Thank you for flying " We're Still The People Feeding Your Skinny Asses Airlines"'

The dumb bitch might still have her daughter if a MOTHERFUCKING Somali had not SHOT DOWN THE HELICOPTER. She might even have a better life of the WARLORDS didn't try to fight us at every turn all the while killing THOUSANDS of their OWN people.



+1

BTW I am still bitter too.

Link Posted: 9/26/2005 1:24:51 PM EDT
And by the way,

I am a tad bitter abt it myself. The troops who survived BH Down are a bit bitter, as are the widows of our brave soldiers who died.

Write a story abt that.

The lives of our soldiers were lost trying to give them a better life. Thier lives were lost trying to kill the guys who were bringing them food. They all deserve to starve. Then we can put up some nice condos along the beaches.

How's that for bitter?

Dang, where's the Crown Royal.....
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