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The Minister of Civil WarBayan Jabr, Paul Bremer, and the rise of the Iraqi death squads
Posted on Thursday, July 20, 2006. An excerpt of an article from the most recent issue, available on newsstands now. Originally from Harper's Magazine, August 2006. By Ken Silverstein.
In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the streets and garbage dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically found blindfolded and handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture—broken skulls, burn marks, gouged-out eyeballs, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had grown to more than 500. In November, American troops discovered more than 160 beaten, whipped, and starved prisoners—again, mostly Sunni—at a secret detention center run by the country's Interior Ministry. Since then, Shiite militias have become so integrated into the Iraqi government's security apparatus and their work so organized, systematic, and targeted that they are commonly referred to in Iraq (and in the American media) by their proper name: death squads. The death squads, which have expanded their area of operations from the capital across much of the country, are now believed to be responsible for more civilian deaths than the Sunni and foreign insurgents who are the United States' ostensible enemies there. By any reasonable measure, Iraq is in a state of civil war, and some of its most ruthless and lawless combatants are members of the government's own security units.
The rise of the death squads corresponds almost precisely to the April 2005 appointment of Bayan Jabr as interior minister in Iraq's transitional government. The Interior Ministry, which is something like a combined FBI and Department of Homeland Security, controls billions of dollars and more than 100,000 men in police and paramilitary units. Jabr was a former high-ranking member of the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade, the military arm of the fundamentalist Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) that is now the dominant political force in the country. After taking over the Interior Ministry, he quickly purged it of Sunnis, and members of the Badr Brigade were widely incorporated into the ministry's police and paramilitary units.
20 July 2006
Posted by berd
Now, I wonder if this is part of that progress in Iraq that the Bush administration and its cronies in congress, in the war departments and on the networks are always talking about.