U.S. Helps Some Iran-Backed Terror
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Harb al-Mukhtar
BAGHDAD, Dec 8 (IPS) - After the U.S. forces and the bombings, Iraqis are coming to fear those bands of men in masks who seem to operate with the Iraqi police.
Omar Ahmed's family learnt what it can mean to run into the police, their supposed protectors.
Omar was driving with two friends in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad at night Sep. 1 when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.
"The three of them were arrested by the police even though there was nothing in the car," an eyewitness told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity.
They did not return home for days, and the family began to search the morgues, common practice now when someone is arrested by the Iraqi police and does not return.
"Five days after they were arrested we found Omar's body in the freezer in a morgue, with holes in the side of his head and shoulders," a friend of the family told IPS.
"We don't know if the other two men are dead or alive," he said. "But we know these men were guilty of nothing other than driving their car at night. We have no security and the problem is that police are killing and disappearing the Iraqi people every day now."
The 'death squads' as they have come to be called are getting more active with just a week to go before the Dec. 15 election.
On Tuesday this week Iraqi police said they found 20 bodies dumped at two different locations in western Iraq, according to the al-Sharqiyah television network.
Eleven bodies of men wearing civilian clothes were found dumped on the main road between Baghdad and the Jordanian border. The bodies were found near al-Rutbah city, with their hands tied behind their backs.
Police said that nine bodies, also of civilians, and riddled with bullets, were found on the side of a road near Fallujah on Monday.
Signs are emerging that such killing is the work of death squads backed by Iran-backed Shia forces that dominate the government, and therefore the police.
Abdullah Omar, a 39-year-old unemployed engineer who now sells petrol and cigarettes on the black market says he survived one such Shia squad.
"I was sleeping on the roof of my house one night because it was so hot and we had no electricity as usual," Omar told IPS. "I was awakened by a loud explosion nearby, and immediately surrounded by strange men wearing night-vision goggles."
Omar says he was thrown to the ground by the men, handcuffed and blindfolded. "They started to beat me using the end of their guns," he said. "Then they searched my house, took my gun which I told them I had, then they took me away."
His 32-year-old wife Sumia, a teacher, was also handcuffed and taken away.
Omar says he saw about ten pick-up trucks carrying at least 100 men wearing black masks before a bag was placed over his head. He was taken to the back of a truck, and beaten up until he fainted.
Sumia was beaten up too. "I received so many kicks to my stomach," she told IPS. "I heard Abdullah screaming in pain, so I fought until they handcuffed me and beat me until I couldn't do anything else."
The two were taken to the Iraqi police station in Suleakh, Baghdad, where they were interrogated and accused of owning a mortar.
"I explained to them that I don't know anything about mortars," said Omar. "And that I have never had anything to do with the resistance, but they said so many insulting words to me, and beat me further."
Sumia, who was also interrogated, pleaded with the policemen to let them return home to care for their young children. "They would not give me a headscarf to cover my head," she told IPS. "They kept asking me about mortars and wouldn't let me go to look after my children. We know nothing about any mortars.."
Omar said the next morning he was moved into another room where he saw men lying handcuffed, with their heads covered with sacks. "They were lying on the ground without a blanket or pillow."
In a while, he said he saw 14 men wearing black masks enter the room carrying whips. "I watched them beat the prisoners. They told them this was their breakfast."
Abdullah and Sumia were later taken home, and warned that if security forces were attacked in their neighbourhood, they would be detained again.
Omar said the men who detained him and his wife were members of the Shia Badr Army, a militia affiliated with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Tensions in Baghdad run high, as people who live in areas not controlled by the Badr Army face daily threats of being kidnapped or killed by members of the militia.
"The Badr Army is conducting a campaign to destroy other political parties and their electoral advertisements," said Saleh Hassir, a doctor at a Baghdad medical centre. "We see black paint and tears on ex-prime minister Allawi's posters and those of the Sunni groups, but pictures of al-Hakim remain unaffected."
The doctor says the Americans have helped bring in new Iran-backed terror.
"So many of us are against Iraq being controlled by these fundamental Islamic Iranian loyalists like al-Hakim," the doctor told IPS. "Now we are seeing the suffering and ultimate dictatorship they have brought us here with the help of the Americans."
The Seasoned Pro's Opinion:
Warning of the outcome of a possible civil war in Iraq, Negroponte said sectarian civil war in Iraq would be a "serious setback" to the global war on terror. Note - he did not say it would be a "serious setback" to the Iraqi people, over 1,400 of whom have been slaughtered in sectarian violence touched off by the bombing of the Golden Mosque last week in Samarra.
No, the violence and instability in Iraq would be a "serious setback" to the global "war on terror."
But it's interesting for him to continue, "The consequences for the people of Iraq would be catastrophic," whilst feigning his concern. Because generating catastrophic consequences for civilian populations just happens to be his specialty.
If we briefly review the political history of John Negroponte, we find a man who has had a career bent toward generating civilian death and widespread human rights abuses, and promoting sectarian and ethnic violence.
Remember when Negroponte was the US ambassador to Honduras, from 1981 to 1985? While there he earned the distinction of being accused of widespread human rights violations by the Honduras Commission on Human Rights while he worked as "a tough cold warrior who enthusiastically carried out President Ronald Reagan's strategy," according to cables sent between Negroponte and Washington during his tenure there.
The human rights violations carried out by Negroponte were described as "systematic."
These violations Negroponte oversaw in Honduras were carried out by operatives trained by the CIA. Records document his "special intelligence units," better known as "death squads," comprised of CIA-trained Honduran armed units which kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people. Victims also included US missionaries (similar to Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq) who happened to witness many of the atrocities.
Negroponte had full knowledge of these activities, while he made sure US military aid to Honduras increased from $4 million to $77.4 million a year during his tenure, and the tiny country became so jammed with US soldiers it was dubbed the "USS Honduras."
It is also important to remember that Negroponte oversaw construction of the air base where Nicaraguan Contras were trained by the US. This air base, El Aguacate, was also used as a secret detention and torture center during his time in Honduras.
While Negroponte was the US ambassador to Honduras, civilian deaths sky-rocketed into the tens of thousands. During his first full year, the local newspapers carried no less than 318 stories of extra-judicial attacks by the military.
He has been described as an "old fashioned imperialist" and got his start during the Vietnam War in the CIA's Phoenix program, which assassinated some 40,000 Vietnamese "subversives."
Negroponte's death squads used electric shock and suffocation devices in interrogations, kept their prisoners naked, and when a prisoner was no longer useful he was brutally executed.
Outraged at the human rights abuses by the Reagan-Bush administration, in 1984 Nicaragua took its case to the World Court in The Hague. The decision of the court was for the Reagan-Bush administration to terminate its "unlawful use of force" in international terrorism and pay substantial reparations to the victims. The White House responded by brushing off the court's findings and vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions that affirmed the judgment that all states must observe international law.
In the middle of Negroponte's tenure in Iraq, the Pentagon (read Donald Rumsfeld) openly considered using assassination and kidnapping teams there, led by the Special Forces.
Referred to not-so-subtly as "the Salvador option," the January 2005 rhetoric from the Pentagon publicized a proposal that would send Special Forces teams to "advise, support and possibly train" Iraqi "squads." Members of these squads would be hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga militia and Shia Badr militiamen used to target Sunni resistance fighters and their sympathizers.
What better man to make this happen than John Negroponte? His experience made him the perfect guy for the job. What a nice coincidence that he just happened to be in Baghdad when the Pentagon/Rumsfeld were discussing "the Salvador option."
Fast forward to present day Iraq, which is a situation described by the Washington Post in this way: "Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday - blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound."
The Independent newspaper from London recently reports that hundreds of Iraqis each month are tortured to death or executed by death squads working out of the Shia-run Ministry of Interior.