Sunday, March 05, 2006

Death squads take root

There are an increasing number of reports that deaths squads have become a central tool of US strategy in Iraq.

More and more Iraqi academics and intellectuals who oppose the war are being assassinated. The Salvador option, which was being openly discussed a year ago, has clearly been operationalized for a while now. The director of the Baghdad morgue has fled, fearing for his life after reporting that more than 7,000 people have been killed by death squads in recent months. Photos and forensic evidence of torture and summary execution backing up his claims have been passed on to the UN.

The death squads have been tied to the Iraqi police and to high level officials in the Iraqi government, especially Interior Minister Bayan Jabr.
Jabr, a Shiite with close ties to the Badr Brigade, a paramilitary group, has been at the center of allegations of abuse at the hands of Iraqi security forces. The minister's notoriety rose last year as the bodies of hundreds of men--mostly Sunni Arabs--started appearing in sewage treatment plants, garbage dumps and desert ravines. Most of the bodies showed signs of torture and execution-style killings. Many families of the deceased said their kin had last been seen in the back of a police vehicle.
This is exactly the kind of thing that happened in El Salvador. US officials in Iraq have ironically called 2006 "the year of the police" though I imagine this is not the image they are trying to get across.

On the other hand, it is in fact quite likely that the US is behind the death squads just as it was in El Salvador. It is just not politic to be up front about it just now. The US is even urging the integration of Jabr's "militias" into the US trained security forces.

As a sign of how this is affecting civilians in Iraq, here are some guidelines circulating in Iraq to help people avoid the death squads.
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Several links thanks to lenin's tomb and Jessica Wilson at Leiter Reports.

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