Jimmy Massey, a former staff sergeant, told AFP that the daily attacks now confronting US-led forces and Iraqi civilians were “because of the brutality that the Iraqi people saw at the start of the invasion”.
In his book, Kill! Kill! Kill!, he says he and other marines in his unit killed dozens of unarmed Iraqi civilians because of an exaggerated sense of threat, and that they often experienced sexual-type thrills doing so.
The book was being released first in France – and in French – because, he said, “I didn’t find an American publisher”.
US publishers reluctant
The French journalist who helped him write the work, Natasha Saulnier, said she believed the US companies were reluctant to touch the book because its “controversial” nature threatened commercial interests and America’s public’s image of their fighting forces.
Massey cites a case of US troops
Massey, who left Iraq in May 2003 shortly after US President George Bush declared “mission accomplished”, wrote the book after being discharged from the Marines with a diagnosed case of post-trauma stress syndrome.
“It’s been a healing experience,” he said. “It’s allowed me to close a lot of chapters and answer a lot of questions.”
In the book, he claims he and a group of marines were near Baghdad when a group of 10 Iraqi men started to protest near them, yelling out anti-US slogans.
At the sound of a gunshot, Massey said, he and his men fired on the group, killing most of them, only to find out later that none of them was armed.
Massey: Training makes soldiers
He also recounts several episodes at checkpoints where civilian cars failed to stop and their unarmed occupants were shot to death.
At one point, he says, he told an officer that the US military campaign “resembles a genocide” and that “our only objective in Iraq is petrol and profits”.
Massey said the casual violence exhibited by him and his men was the deliberate result of combat training approved by the very highest US authorities.
Later revelations of abuse by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere were symptomatic of the breadth of the problem, Massey said.
“Overall, we have to look at the (Bush) administration in terms of responsibility for the atrocities and the murder at the checkpoints,” he said, questioning “the level of brutality instilled in the marines”.
The briefings they received made US troops view “everyone as a potential terrorist – they put fear and panic into my Marines”, Massey says.
“Overall, we have to look at the (Bush) administration in terms of responsibility for the atrocities and the murder at the checkpoints”
Although the target of criticism from serving members of the US military – some of whom see the book as score-settling by a disgruntled marine forced to leave the services – Massey has received significant interest in his book in France.
His next few days, he said, are to be spent being interviewed by media outlets.
His publisher said that, while an English language version of the book was still pending, a Spanish edition would be coming out early next year.