- BAGHDAD (IPS) - Death squads
from the Ministry of Interior posing as Iraqi police are killing more people
than ever in the capital, emerging evidence shows.
- The death toll is high - in all 1,536 bodies were brought
to the Baghdad morgue in September. The health ministry announced last
month that it will build two new morgues in Baghdad to take their capacity
to 250 bodies a day.
- Many fear a government hand in more killings to come.
The U.S. military has revealed that the 8th Iraqi Police Unit was responsible
for the Oct. 1 kidnapping of 26 Sunni food factory workers in the Amil
quarter in southwest Baghdad. The bodies of ten of them were later found
in Abu Chir neighbourhood in the capital.
- Minister for the Interior Jawad al-Bolani announced he
is suspending the police unit from official duties, and confining it to
base until an investigation is completed.
- But sections of the ministry appear responsible for the
abductions and killing. Ministry of Interior vehicles were used for the
kidnapping in this case, and most men conducting the raid wore Iraqi police
uniforms, except for a few who wore black death squad 'uniforms', witnesses
- The leader of the police unit is under house arrest and
faces interrogation for this and other crimes, according to an official
- "It is for sure that they did it," one of the
victim's neighbours told IPS on condition of anonymity. "The tortured
bodies were found the second day. They came in their official police cars;
it is not the first time that they did something like this. They do it
all over Baghdad, and we hope they will get proper punishment this time."
- Men of the police unit meanwhile do not face imminent
punishment. "They are going to be rehabilitated and brought back to
service," director-general of the Iraqi police Adnan Thabit told IPS.
- The Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party, blamed
militias with ties to the government and the U.S. military.
- "The Iraqi Islamic Party asks how could 26 people,
women among them, have been transported from Amil to Abu Chir through all
those Iraqi and U.S. army checkpoints and patrols," it said in a statement.
- The U.S. military has denied any involvement in the killings.
- General Yassin al-Dulaimi, deputy minister for the interior,
has said on Iraqi television several times that death squads are composed
mainly of Iraqi police and army units. His comments reflect differing allegiance
and agendas even within the Shia bloc.
- General Dulaimi has been trying for long to expose the
organised criminal gangs that have been controlling the ministry since
its formation - a formation that was overseen by U.S. authorities.
- Dulaimi says he does not believe that the Shia Badr organisation,
a large, well-armed and funded militia, has complete control over his ministry.
But most residents of Baghdad believe that Badr has complete control over
the Baghdad Order Maintenance police force, and use this force to carry
out sectarian murders. This force is one of several official security teams
- The force is led by Mehdi al-Gharrawi, who also led similar
security units during the U.S.- led attack on Fallujah in November 2004.
- "All criminals who survived the Fallujah crisis
after committing genocide and other war crimes were granted higher ranks,"
Major Amir Jassim from the ministry of defence told IPS. "I and many
of my colleagues were not rewarded because we disobeyed orders to set fire
to people's houses (in Fallujah) after others looted them."
- Jassim said the looting and burning of homes in Fallujah
during the November siege was ordered from the ministries of interior and
- "Now they want to do the same things they did in
Fallujah in all Sunni areas so that they ignite a civil war in Iraq,"
said Jassim, referring to the Shia-dominated ministries. "A civil
war is the only guarantee for them to stay in power, looting such incredible
amounts of money."
- Another official with the ministry of defence, Muntather
al-Samarraii, told IPS that both Iran and "collaborators" within
the Ministry of Interior are to blame for the widespread sectarian killings..
- "I have lists of thousands of corruption cases from
within my ministry, and other files to expose to the world," he said,
"But the world is not listening. When it does, I am afraid it is going
to be too late."
- A police officer in Samarraii's office, speaking on condition
of anonymity, told IPS that he believed that murderers would not be punished
for their crimes.
- "They will reward them, believe me, and give them
higher ranks," he said. "This is a country that will never stand
back on its feet as long as these killers are in power. And the Americans
are supporting them by allowing their convoys to move during curfew hours."
- While there is little evidence of direct U.S. involvement,
questions have arisen over what the U.S. forces have done - or not done
- to encourage such killings.
- A UN human rights report released September last year
held interior ministry forces responsible for an organised campaign of
detentions, torture and killings. It reported that special police commando
units accused of carrying out the killings were recruited from Shia Badr
and Mehdi militias, and trained by U.S. forces.
- Retired Col. James Steele, who served as advisor on Iraqi
security forces to then U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte supervised the
training of these forces.
- Steele was commander of the U.S. military advisor group
in El Salvador 1984-86, while Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to nearby
Honduras 1981-85. Negroponte was accused of widespread human rights violations
by the Honduras Commission on Human Rights in 1994. The Commission reported
the torture and disappearance of at least 184 political workers.
- The violations Negroponte oversaw in Honduras were carried
out by operatives trained by the CIA, according to a CIA working group
set up in 1996 to look into the U.S. role in Honduras.
- The CIA records document that his "special intelligence
units," better known as "death squads," comprised CIA-trained
Honduran armed units which kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of
people suspected of supporting leftist guerrillas.
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