Mahmoud Nahib Said was killed - arguably murdered - by American soldiers on April 10, 2003.
This writeup is dedicated to those Iraqi civilians killed during the 2003 conflict.
The son of the Baghdad chief of police, Mahmoud was born in 1953 in the Adhimya area of the city. His family were fairly wealthy due to his father's occupation, but this all changed ten years later, in 1963, when his father died. Mahmoud's family became unable to support themselves and became poor, experiencing the accompanying difficulties of a greatly changed lifestyle.
Attending the Adhimya school, Mahmoud was a bright and able student, gaining high enough grades to attend Mastansiriya College on a Mathematics course. However, after only a year at the college, Mahmoud began suffering from severe depression, perhaps partly explained by his family's hardships following his father's death. He was prescribed medication for this condition, and it seemed to help, as he earned employment at the old Mastansiriya school (selling tickets; the school was a tourist attraction). Mahmoud continued to visit the Ibn Rushud mental hospital, and was encouraged by a doctor there to start a family to help with his depression. He therefore married a woman named Bushra Karim, who bore him three children (a girl and two boys). Mahmoud's condition vis a vis the depression seemed to have eased due to the combination of continued medication and a stable family.
In 1988, however, Mahmoud's mother died. although this event alone did not induce a recurrence of Mahmoud's depression, only three years later, in 1991, his oldest child, his daughter Fadhilah, developed leukimia. Of the three children, Fadhilah was the one doted on the most by her father, but she soon sickened and died. She was seven years old. In adition to this, Mahmoud lost a brother and a sister around the same time. The combined shock of these events put Mahmoud in hospital for nine whole months. Upon his discharge from the hospital, the depression soon returned, despite a period of apparent normality.
Mahmoud left his job permanently in 1996 and returned to live in the villa shared by his extended family. Neighbours testify to his increased compassion and generosity towards children following the death of his daughter. He was also well liked in the area, although during bouts of depression he was prone to sudden acts of aggression. Mahmoud was also a devout Sunni Muslim, observing the proper praying and fasting traditions required. He was a stubborn man, however, and this was probably augmented by his illness. Living in his upstairs bedroom, Mahmoud refused to move downstairs, despite repeated pleas from his family, who believed it was safer there. He would become angrier the more they tried to persuade him to move.
Adhmiya was the last part of Baghdad not under American control after their entry on May 3. Fierce fighting broke out in the area in the early hours of the 10th. Mahmoud's family hid under the stairs in fear - all except Mahmoud, who remained locked in his room. Mahmoud's wife reported to the family that American soldiers were in their garden, having left the hiding place and moved into the kitchen.
The American soldiers began knocking on the door, demanding entry, but decided to knock the door down before a member of the family had a chance to simply open it for them. Six soldiers in total entered the house, telling the terrified family members not to be scared as they were looking for Saddam Hussein. In spite of this, they continued to point their weapons at the family. An old man who spoke English, a guest in the house, told them that Saddam was not present.
When the soldiers moved upstairs, towards Mahmoud's bedroom, his sister and the old man began shouting, in Arabic and English respectively, warning the men that the man upstairs was "sick". Still downstairs, too terrified to move, the family heard the soldiers knocking loudly on Mahmoud's door, again demanding that they let him in. Mahmoud replied in Arabic, refusing.
The family heard several shots. The Americans left the house without another word.
On investigating, the family found Mahmoud on the floor of his room: he had bullet wounds in the head, neck and shoulder. He had also been extensively burnt by an oil lamp that he had been using, which had been ignited during the shooting.
Mahmoud Nasib Said's family buried him in the garden that day.
This incident only came to light because of an article in a British newspaper, The Guardian, which looked at the lives of 100 people, on all sides, who were killed in the war. An unknown number of Iraqi civilians have been killed in the ongoing (as I write this in April 2004) conflict. Estimates differ, but the lowest are still in the thousands.