War crimes : U.S. unleashes terror squads


Richard Moore

In this report we read that U.S.-trained Iraqi military is
engaging in terrorist death-squad activity, following the
pattern we've seen in South and Central America, under the
influence of the School of the Americas. It would be naive
to ascribe this activity to 'rogue elements'. What we are
seeing is part of a comprehensive campaign by occupation
forces to stir up a civil war among Iraqi factions. We've
also seen false-flag 'suicide' bombings, a one-sided
Constitution, and atrocities committed by U.S. troops
against Sunni towns and villages. The path out of the
quagmire, according to this strategy, is to get the
Iraqi's to fight one another instead of fighting against
the occupiers. It's a standard method of imperial



November 29, 2005 

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings

BAGHDAD, Iraq , Nov. 28 - As the American military pushes
the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger
role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to
mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out
executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have
emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by
Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been
taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields,
with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their
skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by
electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a
secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior
Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials
acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates
appeared to have been tortured.

Bayan Jabr,  the interior minister, and other government
officials denied any government involvement, saying the
killings were carried out by men driving stolen police
cars and wearing police and army uniforms purchased at
local markets. "Impossible! Impossible!" Mr. Jabr said.
"That is totally wrong; it's only rumors; it is nonsense."

Many of the claims of killings and abductions have been
substantiated by at least one human rights organization
working here - which asked not to be identified because of
safety concerns - and documented by Sunni leaders working
in their communities.

American officials, who are overseeing the training of the
Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police
officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which
they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings
and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct
American knowledge.

But they also say it is difficult, in an already murky
guerrilla war, to determine exactly who is responsible.
The American officials insisted on anonymity because they
were working closely with the Iraqi government and did not
want to criticize it publicly.

The widespread conviction among Sunnis that the Shiite-led
government is bent on waging a campaign of terror against
them is sending waves of fear through the community, just
as Iraqi and American officials are trying to coax the
Sunnis to take part in nationwide elections on Dec. 15.

Sunnis believe that the security forces are carrying out
sectarian reprisals, in part to combat the insurgency, but
also in revenge for years of repression at the hands of
Saddam Hussein's government.

Ayad Allawi, a prominent Iraqi politician who is close to
the Sunni community, charged in an interview published
Sunday in The London Observer that the Iraqi government -
and the Ministry of Interior in particular - was condoning
torture and running death squads.

The allegations raise the possibility of the war being
fought here by a set of far messier rules, as the
Americans push more responsibility for fighting it onto
the Iraqis. One worry, expressed repeatedly by Americans
and Iraqis here, is that an abrupt pullout of American
troops could clear the way for a sectarian war.

One Sunni group taking testimony from families in Baghdad
said it had documented the death or disappearance of 700
Sunni civilians in the past four months.

An investigator for the human rights organization said it
had not been able to determine the number of executions
carried out by the Iraqi security forces. So far, the
investigator said, the evidence was anecdotal, but

"There is no question that bodies are turning up," said
the investigator, who agreed to speak on the condition of
anonymity, citing safety concerns. "Quite a few have been
handcuffed and shot in the back of the head."

As an example, the human rights investigator said that the
group had been able to verify that a number of Sunni men
taken from the Baghdad neighborhood of Huriya  and shot to
death last August. Relatives of the dead told the group
that more than 30 men had been taken from their homes by
the Iraqi police in what appeared to be a roundup of Sunni

In the Iskan neighborhood in Baghdad, the human rights
group said it had confirmed that 36 Sunni men had been
abducted and killed in the neighborhood in August. Sunni
groups say the men were taken from their homes by men who
identified themselves as intelligence agents from the
Interior Ministry.

"The stories are pretty much consistent across the board,
both in the manner that the men are being abducted and in
who they say is taking them," the human rights
investigator said.

More than 15 Sunni families interviewed for this article
gave similar accounts of people identifying themselves as
Iraqi security forces taking their relatives away without
warrants. The families said that most of those said to
have been abducted were later found dead.

On Nov. 12, according to the Samarraie family in Gazalia, 
a Baghdad neighborhood, a group of masked men identifying
themselves as agents of the Interior Ministry broke down
the family's door. Outside, the family members said, was a
line of white pickup trucks with machine guns mounted on

The men in masks said they were looking for Yasir, 36, one
of the Samarraie brothers, the family said. They took him

"We are intelligence people from the Ministry of the
Interior," one of the men said, according to Yasir's wife,
Wuroud Sami Younis.

A few days later, the police found Yasir's body in an
empty field a couple of neighborhoods away. His skull was
broken, and there were two bullet holes in his temple,
family members said.  Officials at the city morgue
confirmed Mr. Yasir's death.

"The government is trying to terrorize and dominate the
Sunni people," said Yasir's brother, Shuhaib.

The claims of direct involvement by the Iraqi security
services are extremely difficult to verify. In a land
where rumor and allegation are commonly used as political
weapons, the truth is difficult to distill.

Mr. Jabr, the interior minister, acknowledged that many
civilians were being killed in Baghdad and around Iraq,
and that some of them were being killed for sectarian
reasons. "When we have cases like that, we investigate
them, and if we can find the culprits we arrest them," he

The chief suspects, according to Sunni leaders, human
rights workers and a well-connected American official
here, are current and former members of the Badr Brigade,
the Iranian-backed militia controlled by the Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a principal
part of the current government. Since the fall of the
Hussein government in April 2003, Badr gunmen are
suspected of having assassinated dozens of its former
officials, as well as suspected insurgents.

Since April, when the Shiite-led government came to power,
Badr fighters have joined the security services, like  the
police and commando units under the control of the
interior minister, Mr. Jabr, who is also a senior member
of the Supreme Council.

With Badr gunmen operating inside and outside the
government, the militia can act with what appears to be
official backing. It is not clear who is directing the
security services, the government officials or the heads
of the militias.

"The difference between the Ministry of the Interior and
the Badr Brigade has become very blurry," the human rights
investigator said.

"You have these people in the security services, and they
have different masters," said the American official in
Baghdad. "There isn't a clear understanding of who is in

The alarm in the Sunni community is so great the Um
al-Qura Mosque, one of the largest temples in Baghdad, has
begun documenting cases of allegations of executions and
abductions. Mazan Taha, who is overseeing the project,
said he has compiled the names of some 700 Sunni men who
have disappeared or been killed in the past four months.

In one Sunni neighborhood, Sababkar, residents said the
Iraqi Army surrounded the neighborhood and took away 11 of
its Sunni men in July. Most of the bodies were found the
next day; television stations here showed pictures of
bodies that had been burned with acid and drilled with
holes by electric drills. Most of the men had been shot in
their temples.

"How did these killers get police uniforms?" Mr. Taha
asked of the details surrounding many of the killings.
"How was it that they were operating freely after curfew?
That they had police cars?"

Each day, Sunni families with little faith that the
Shiite-led government will help them line up at Mr. Taha's
office instead, to tell of family members who have been
killed and disappeared.

"They took three of my sons!" wailed Naima Ibrahim, waving
three government-issued identification cards, as Mr. Taha
quietly wrote the information down. "They took three of my

The grief in Baghdad's Sunni neighborhoods has begun to
spill onto the streets.

On Friday, hundreds of Iraqi Sunnis marched through the
Amriya  neighborhood to protest the killing of a prominent
Sunni leader and three of his sons last Wednesday.
Witnesses said the killers were wearing Iraqi army
uniforms and came in the middle of the night, when the
curfew has been strictly enforced. The Sunni leader,
Kadhim Surhid, was buried, but much was unclear.

"They killed them in their beds," said Jama Hussein, a
friend who attended the funeral. He jutted his palms out
from his body. "I myself carried them from their beds."

John F. Burns and Mona Mahmoud contributed reporting for
this article.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company 



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