The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has reacted strongly to the recent announcement by the US Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro that a new assault ship will be named after the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Citing the fact that, over the past two decades, hundreds of civilians have been killed in military operations in the city, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said on Thursday that the name choice was deeply inappropriate. 
“Just as our nation would never name a ship the USS Abu Ghraib, the Navy should not name a vessel after notorious battles in Fallujah that left hundreds of civilians dead, and countless children suffering from birth defects for years afterward.
“There must be a better name for this ship – one that does not evoke horrific scenes from an illegal and unjust war.” 
Birth defects blamed on US chemical weaponry
In the December 15 press release, CAIR refers to a 2012 study undertaken by the global newswire, Inter Press Service (IPS), which found that Fallujah has experienced and continues to feel the after-effects of the American use of toxic military devices including white phosphorous, thermobaric weapons, and depleted uranium. 
In addition, the scale of the devastation has been likened to the US dropping of the world’s first atomic bomb in the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. However, the increase in cancer patients, the impact on the birth sex ratio, and infant mortality have all been found to be at worse rates in Fallujah than in Hiroshima. 
A spokesperson for the Fallujah Hospital, Nadim al-Hadidi, said during the IPS investigation in April of 2012 that children were being born with no brain, no eyes, or with the intestines outside of their bodies. He further explained that there are no available statistics on such birth defects as there are far too many to account for.
“We recorded 672 cases in January but we know there were many more… In 2004, the Americans tested all kinds of chemicals and explosive devices on us: thermobaric weapons, white phosphorous, depleted uranium… we have all been laboratory mice for them.” 
A city’s tortured past
A year before the 2004 use of chemical weapons, in April of 2003, the city witnessed some of the first bombardment in the American and British invasion on the pretence that then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
On the evening of April 28, hundreds of Iraqis bravely marched – in defiance of a US military curfew – through the city’s streets and up to a local school. In response, a number of US Army troops fired into the crowd, who had sought to demonstrate against the US presence in the city. Figures suggest that approximately 20 locals died in the indiscriminate and needless aggression, in addition to over seventy Fallujah residents injured. 
In June of 2003, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that the US authorities ought to investigate the Fallujah killings. Hanny Megally, the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division at HRW, said at the time of the ghastly 2003 incident,
“The U.S. military presence in al-Fallujah began with these tragic events in late April, and it has been troubled ever since… What is needed is a thorough investigation of possible violations of international humanitarian law by U.S. troops.” 
What’s in a name?
On 13 December 2022, the US Navy announced that Secretary Del Toro had chosen the name USS Fallujah in recognition of the first and second US military battles in the city. 
The First Battle of Fallujah, or Operation Vigilant Resolve, refers to an April-May 2004 offensive that targeted those the US held responsible for the killings of four US military contractors.
The Second Battle, codenamed Operation Phantom Fury and Operation al-Fajr, refers to the bloodiest US-led operation during the decades-long Iraq War. According to the Red Cross, 800 civilians died during this campaign in November-December of 2004. 
Del Toro said in brief remarks,
“It is an honor to memorialize the Marines, Soldiers, and coalition partners that fought valiantly and those that sacrificed their lives during both battles of Fallujah…
“This namesake deserves to be in the pantheon of iconic Marine Corps battles and the LHA’s unique capabilities will serve as a stark reminder to everyone around the world of the bravery, courage, and commitment to freedom displayed by those who fought in the battle.” 
It is sickening to the core that the US Navy would be so unapologetic and callous in its decision to select the name USS Fallujah, when a Pentagon spokesman admitted in 2005 to the use of white phosphorous in the city , and when subsequent investigations have found evidence of the use of other American chemical weapons and forces treating Fallujah locals as lab mice.  We join CAIR in demanding that the US Navy rethink its unacceptable choice of name.
- Fallujah, the Gaza of Iraq
- Fallujah Massacre – statement from Association of Muslim Scholars
- The Bloody Legacy of Western Imperialism in Iraq