Hector Gomez Calito’s body was found by the road, 18 miles outside Guatemala City, his
legs and stomach burnt, his tongue cut out.
‘Death in the Afternoon’, Edwin Charles, New Socialist April 1986
The year was 1986 and Guatemala had just just emerged from 31 years of military
dictatorship. The death toll stood at 138,000 since the CIA-engineered coup of 1954. The government had
officially blamed the violence on everything from foreigners to the heat, yet most of the victims had been
‘disappeared’ by the various branches of the security forces (or private death squads largely made up of
moonlighting members of the police or army), armed, trained and supported by the US military. Guatemala’s
democratic ‘opening’ made little difference to the disenfranchised majority struggling for basic rights; nor
did it halt the ravages of the security forces, which found themselves in a stronger position, free to
pursue their internally directed war behind a ‘constitutional veneer’. By 1989 the death toll for the decade
alone had reached some 100,000 killed and another 40,000 disappeared.
You can find a similar story in El Salvador, where the US felt it
necessary, first, to engineer a civilian, José Napoléon Duarte, as president in 1980 and then to insist on
constitutional (1982) and presidential (1984) elections. Such a commitment to ‘democracy’ provided the
necessary gloss for the massive expansion of US military involvement under the Reagan administration,
leading to a decade of brutal internal conflict. In fact, the US
ran the war in El Salvador
through a handful of assets in key positions and a military mission whose role was to create
counterinsurgency forces to take the war to the guerrilla while the bulk of the armed forces held static
positions. The result was a genocidal war of aggression against the Salvadoran population, whose targets, as
Chomsky reminds us, were
‘peasants, labour organizers, students, priests or anyone suspected of working in the interests of the
The full extent of the US role in El Salvador was not evident at the time. It has taken
the courage of dedicated investigators in truth commissions, the heartbreaking work of forensic
anthropologists and the first-hand testimonies of former soldiers and torturers to break the conspiracy of
Serious scholars and activists of Latin American history, and US
Imperialism in general, have learned to recognize the role and impact of US involvement in
‘counterinsurgency’ wars. A whole
movement in the US is
dedicated to closing down the notorious School of the Americas (recently renamed the Western Hemisphere
School of Security Cooperation), because activists know that despite the human rights courses and the
lessons in bomb disposal, many of the war criminals that have plagued Latin America over recent decades are
the alumni of that academy of war.
Such activists have also learned to mistrust the Western media, which has consistently
misrepresented or failed to report the horrific crimes committed by US proxy armies. Those activists have
listened closely to the voices of the people in struggle and recorded their testimonies as part of their
campaign to bring an end to US military training and assistance programs. Laboratories have been established
on the ground to investigate and analyze the crimes of the state, as well as to dignify the memories of the
victims. Uncovering the truth is not a matter of taking selected quotations from mainstream press articles
or reading through blogs, but of building real links with organizations rooted in popular struggle.
In relation to the ongoing occupation and destruction of Iraq, activists and analysts
like myself have scoured the information available at a distance and have tried to hear and understand the
voices coming from the ground to the best of our ability. It is not a substitute for the kind of real
solidarity work that I have been describing, but, for those of us who have looked at the US mode of war, it
is enough to recognize the evidence of active US involvement with death squads and genocidal
intelligence-based counterinsurgency operations – and we have tried to continue hearing those Iraqi voices
despite the ceaseless cacaphony of disinformation put out by the Occupying powers and disseminated by the
entire apparatus of the corporate media in their thrall.
In a very concrete sense, we have tried to hang a monumental question mark on the
mightiest propaganda machine the world has ever known. In so doing, speaking for myself, I have questioned
every assumption that I hold day after day, time after time and always been forced back to the same
position: that the supposed sectarian violence afflicting Iraq is entirely an artifice of the Occupation and
that British and American imperialism is not only attempting to fabricate a civil war, but is directly
responsible for the vast majority of the violence, including the death squads.
It is no surprise to find that these views are challenged by such
apologists as Stephen Zunes, who
writes that ‘there is little
evidence to suggest that US trainers have actively encouraged death squad activity’ (just as there is no
‘evidence’ that Negroponte knew anything about the death squads in El Salvador or Honduras) despite an
avalanche of material available to any prepared to look. Nor is it any surprise that
these views are ridiculed at
such bastions of learning as the Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the UK.
But it comes as a shock to find these arguments under assault from
commentators criticizing an
article in which I called for
an independent investigation into the killings of three lawyers defending Saddam Hussein and other members
of the former Iraqi government on the grounds that I have not heard and understood what is happening in
Iraq. Their argument is that rather than focusing on US control of the Iraqi security apparatus, we should
be looking at the involvement of Iraq’s two most famous Shiite militias, the Mahdi Army of Radical Cleric
Muqtada al Sadr and the Badr Brigade, linked to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
There are both micro and macro dimensions to the criticism of my article, both of which
I would like to have the opportunity to address. The micro dimensions consist in a detailed critique of my
article along the following lines.
1) I claimed that the murdered lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi had been hauled from his home in
the middle of the night by Interior Ministry representatives when in fact, according to his bereaved wife,
20 men in civilian clothes who identified themselves as members of a ministry security brigade burst into
their home in the early hours of the morning while the family slept; Mr Obeidi had little chance to reply
before he was seized. It is hard to see how my rendering of the event differs notably from the related
facts, which of course formed the basis of my account.
2) I failed to mention that Mehdi Army militiamen are reported to
have paraded Mr Obeidi around the Al Thawra (Sadr City) district of Baghdad before his murder and
subsequently celebrated his killing with refreshments in the streets. It is true that I did not refer to
this account on one blog that is no longer available, but only referred to the disposal of My Obeidi’s body
under an image of the Ayatollah al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr’s father. However, my point was that most murderers
try to conceal their crimes or transpose the blame to others. A
spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr
‘angrily denied’ the accusations. It should also be noted that the account of militiamen parading Mr Obeidi refers to a Mehdi Army leader named Abu Der’ra.
Perhaps they would have heard the
residents of Sadr City who
denied that Abu Deraa was a resident of the area, or even the Thawra councilman and senior Sadr official,
who insisted that Deraa is not a member of the Mehdi Army. In fact, Deraa is being referred to as the
‘Shiite Zarqawi’ and, I suggest, is just as much a
3) I failed to discuss an aspect of the background to the killings of the three lawyers,
namely that Muqtada al-Sadr and two of his spokesmen had made hostile comments towards the trial of Saddam
Hussein. I would like to deal with the various comments separately.
(i) The most substantively
incriminating comment was made
by Shaikh Raid al-Kadhimi in July 2004 from the ‘pulpit of Baghdad’s Kadhimiya Shrine’. The problem with
using this as evidence against Muqtada al-Sadr is that Kadhimi seems an unreliable spokesman. Kadhimi
himself had been in
exile in Syria for a number of
years before the US invasion (unlike Muqtada al-Sadr) and the Kadhimiya Shrine where he spoke has been
strongly linked with another
al-Sadr, Muqtada’s uncle Hussein al-Sadr, who was not only also in exile, but
strongly supported the US invasion
and dines with Colin Powel. Hussein al-Sadr is not close to Muqtada, but is
associated with US/UK intelligence asset Ayad Allawi.
(ii) Shaik Awad Khafaji and Muqtada al-Sadr are both reported to have demanded the
execution of Saddam Hussein. I don’t have to agree with their position to point out that in neither
statement, as far as I am aware, were specific threats made against the lawyers themselves. From Muqtada al-Sadr’s
position, one possible outcome of killing the defence lawyers must surely be the removal of the trial to a
country where the death penalty would not even be an option. On every count it would be an act of unbridled
stupidity on al-Sadr’s part to sanction the murder of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers and there is no evidence that
he has done so.
The point of my article was to emphasize the role of the US-built Ministry of the
Interior and its forces and to argue that there is abundant grounds to suspect British and American
involvement in most of the killings taking place, quite apart from any moral or legal argument that they are
responsible by dint of being in occupation. In taking this position I was in fact listening to many of the
voices I hear coming from Iraq, as well as to the victims and fighters, alive and dead, from every other US
For instance, I was listening to the murdered lawyer Khamis Obeidi, who stated, ‘The
government bears the responsibility because it is supposed to protect the citizens. If there were a serious
investigation into the previous murder of Janabi and the perpetrators had been arrested, we would not see
I was listening to Saddam Hussein’s chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, who said, ‘We
strongly condemn this act [the killing of Mr Obeidi] and we condemn the killings done by the Interior
Ministry against Iraqis.’
I was listening to Freedom Voice Society for Human Rights, which is
calling for a factfinding mission
of the UN, the Arab League or International Organisations and wants peacekeeping forces to protect
I was listening to an Iraqi professor who
wrote that his colleagues were
being killed by professional assassins, none of whom have been arrested; he said ‘nobody has taken
responsibility, and reasons have not been clarified.’
I was listening to the Shiite farmers who wake up to find typewritten flyers on their
doorsteps telling them to leave the mixed communities where they have shared their whole lives with their
Sunni neighbors and relatives.
I was listening to the boy whose ears were burnt off in a fire in a police station where
he should never have been but was held for stealing some lengths of electrical cable in order to live.
I was listening to the street vendors forced off their pitch by the police and left with
no means of subsistence.
I was listening to the workers encountered by Naomi Klein who said they would rather blow
up their factory with themselves in it than see it privatized.
I was listening to tales of torture and horror coming out of every US-installed detention
facility and every ‘security’ unit given unnatural life by US trainers.
I was listening to the Iraqi Organization
for follow-up and monitoring who stated:
“After exact counting and
documenting, the Iraqi Organisation for Follow-up and Monitoring has confirmed that 92 % of the 3498 bodies
found in different regions of Iraq have been arrested by officials of the Ministry of Interior. Nothing was
known about the arrestees’ fate until their riddled bodies were found with marks of horrible torture. It’s
regrettable and shameful that these crimes are being suppressed and that several states receive government
officials, who fail to investigate these crimes.”
The ‘macro dimension’ to criticisms of my article actually has very
little to do with the substance of the particular piece. Their real objection is that in consistently
drawing on detailed evidence, including US military sources, to examine the role of the US
military-intelligence apparatus within the ongoing violence in Iraq, I have systematically downplayed the
involvement of the Badr Brigade and the Mehdi Army.
The truth is that, aside from anecdotal allegations from fairly
spurious sources, there is no
publicly available information on the organisation or structure of either group and spokespersons for both
of them assiduously deny their involvement. Even more significantly, Muqtada al-Sadr has been steadfast in
opposing sectarianism, as Dahr Jamail, amongst others, has
noted. Such a stance simply
does not square with his characterisation as one of the arch villains in an internally driven conflict. You
don’t need to be an Islamist to see that. Even that other arch fiend, Bayan Jabr, whose
offices crawled with US agents,
appeared out of his depth, desperately thrusting passports at impassive journalists who would rather crucify
him with letters than pose a single rudimentary question about US collusion. Yet no charges are forthcoming
against Jabr and it is the US state, not he, that has the more distinguished pedigree in violence.
What we do have is a growing body of eyewitness testimonies from Iraqis asserting the
presence of members of one or other militia group. Such assertions are blown out of all proportion within
the mainstream western media by writers who have never seriously questioned the role of US
military-intelligence advisors in orchestrating the death squads despite a barrage of evidence. The views of
journalists who take this line can be discarded as trash, but not those of the Iraqis, who, undoubtedly,
genuinely see the involvement of both Badr and Mehdi militiamen.
The problem with such testimonies is not in their credibility but in their ability to
perceive the structures and follow the chains of command of the various armed groups that are assaulting
them. Despite truisms, the truth is that sometimes you can feel the effect of the lash, but not see the hand
that is wielding it.
The most consistent detail in all accounts of raids and
arrests/kidnappings is the presence of members of the new
Iraqi armed forces, be they members of the National Guard (now regular army), blue-shirted policemen or
paramilitary members of the Special (now National) Police. This phenomenon is so pointed that no one can
seriously discuss the role of militias as death squads without qualifying their position by arguing that
these militias have integrated themselves within branches of the security forces to the extent that they
have become essentially indistinguishable from the security forces, with the security forces themselves
(parts of them at least) now operating as the sectarian militias. Empirically, this is an extraordinarily
weak position, as I have
attempted to argue with
detailed examinations of the relationship between such forces and the US military-intelligence apparatus.
What this leaves essentially are the eyewitnesses who report seeing members of one or
other militia operating alongside members of the security forces.
So who are the ‘militiamen’ that Iraqis have seen and, in the case
of the recent raids in Adhamiya, even captured? One possible answer is that they are the same plainclothes
intelligence operatives that a UPI journalist
witnessed participating in a
Baghdad raid in June 2004, well before anyone had charged that the Ministry of the Interior or any Iraqi
police forces had been infiltrated by Shiite militiamen. Such intelligence operatives might also constitute
the mysterious Field Intelligence Units that Gen Rasheed Flayih, the head of the Police Commandos,
uses as a euphemism for the death squads. Might
such units be made up of ‘militiamen’? We know they are, or at least that they were. From the outset of the
occupation, the CIA
took the ‘top intelligence agents’
from each of the main exile political groups and hammered them into the Collection Management and Analysis
Directorate, which was to become the new Mukhabharat under the Sunni former Baathist general Mohammed
Abdullah Shahwani. In November 2003 the Occupation authority
formed a paramilitary unit
‘composed of militiamen from the country’s five largest political parties’ to ‘track down insurgents’. I
drew attention to all of this in my article ‘Crying
Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq’. Do these
agents knock on people’s doors saying ‘I’m from the Badr Brigade’? I sincerely doubt it, but even if they
do, it is no reason to situate the intelligence apparatus underlying Iraq’s death squads anywhere but,
ultimately, with the Occupying forces. For instance, we know that the raids conducted by the paramilitary
Special Police are
overseen by Multi National Force-Iraq
operatives. A second possibility is that local ‘defence’ forces of the kinds seen in Latin America are being
organized by the state and deliberately given a sectarian character. If such units exist (I have seen no
evidence that they do), they too will operate within the framework of the Occupation’s military-intelligence
The one thing that is really certain, is that whoever these militiamen are, they would not be able to operate without the active
collusion of the Ministry of the Interior and the Occupation forces. This fact is crystal clear when we
consider that units like the Special Police Commandos, which have been closely linked with death squads and
militias, operate with embedded US special forces trainers at the battalion level (ie about the ratio of
teacher to student in most class rooms), who live, work, patrol and sleep with the units. It is therefore
entirely appropriate to focus on the intellectual authorship of this genocidal campaign of murder at its
highest level in order to seek ways to prevent further crimes and prosecute those responsible. One such
way would be to press for an independent international investigation by an agency such as the UN Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Such an investigation must not be charged with
examining specific organizations; it must be charged with investigating the thousands of
extrajudicial killings taking place across Iraq and determining responsibility, wherever it may lie. This is
in no way an alternative to ending the occupation, but is an integral part of campaigning to uncover the
crimes of the occupiers, end the occupation and act in solidarity with Iraqis facing terrible persecution.
It is in just this spirit that Dennis Kucinich
wrote an open letter to Donald
Rumsfeld, exposing the complicity of the US war machine, not in defending Muqtada al-Sadr or the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, it took years of agony
to finally uncover a tiny fraction of the true extent of US complicity in El Salvador’s killing fields.
Soldiers tormented with guilt finally had the
courage to come forward at the
risk of their own lives to reveal their roles in collecting information through savage torture and murder,
information that was laid on the adjacent desks of US intelligence operatives, minus only the gory details
of how it had been obtained. The value of such testimonies is in revealing the structure and logic of US
counterinsurgency wars, so that their lessons never are forgotten.
Iraq’s ‘democratic opening’ was just as vital a fig leaf for all-out dirty war as
Duarte’s civilian presidency was in El Salvador. At this moment all of the voices are telling us the same
thing and that is that US-trained, armed and backed forces are committing yet another genocide.
Islamofascism is just another cover for ruthless political, economic and social repression, with Shiite
militiamen in Iraq no more needing to take their orders from Tehran than Guatemalan death squads needed to
take theirs from the Vatican. The objective is not a mystery. It is total neo-colonial domination. Let’s
focus on what is concrete and start looking for ways to protect Iraqis from the wolves and wolf brigades
that Anglo-American imperialism has unleashed on them. Focusing on the Mehdi Army or the Badr Brigades is
exactly what the Occupation wants the anti-war movement to do, providing the real criminals with ‘plausible
denial’ and building a climate in which Iraq can be successfully dismembered.
The Assault on Adhamiya - Not Civil War Yet
After numerous reports of fighting in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad over the last few
months, many of them drawing on first-hand testimonies, it would probably surprise few of those who have
paid attention to descriptions of Sunni vs Shia warfare, that the area is Tiger Brigade territory.
What might come as slightly surprising is to learn that the Tiger
Brigade is not the feared Shiite predator, against whom residents of the predominantly Sunni district have
thrown up barricades and formed neighbourhood self-defence groups. Instead, the
Tiger Brigade is the 2nd Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Army
Division (erroneously referred to in most reports as National Guard),
headquartered at the old Defence Minsistry
based in al
Thawra (Sadr City) and
responsible for a large swathe of Baghdad east of the Tigris,
The best known and
best reported part of the
ongoing battle for Adhamiya took place on the nights of 17 and 18 April 2006, when gunmen stormed the
neighborhood and were resisted by local forces. What role did Tiger play? According to one local ‘the
National Guards that are usually patrolling the street left’. Did they melt away out of fear of the gunmen?
Did they secretly or openly sympathize with the gunmen’s aims? Were they obeying arcane orders passed down
from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) not to interfere with the raid? I suggest the answer is none of those,
but that the troops of the 2nd Brigade did not disappear, but redeployed to the perimeter of a predefined
area of operations as part of a diligently orchestrated assault (‘cordon and search’) of the district. In
doing so, they would have been fulfilling a role that US trainers had devised for them, and, no doubt, the
Military Transition Team (MiTT),
the 506th Regimental Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division under Lt Col Paul Finken, would have been on
hand to ensure that the job was done properly.
From what we know of such planned raids, the actual forces that
enter the area of operations are usually paramilitary units of the Special (now National) Police, formerly
made up of Police Commandos and Public Order Brigades, now simply consisting of two divisions with around
eight individual brigades. This seems to be essentially consistent with what happened on the night of 17
April, with first-hand accounts stating that the intruders were special police forces from MOI. Nothing so
far is out of step with what we should expect from a carefully planned counterinsurgency operation (eg see
account of Operation Knockout).
Where doubt about the identity of the attackers and intellectual
authorship of the assault starts to creep in is with the eyewitnesses who made the following statements (see
assault on Adhamiya: Limitations and perspectives of war reporting from Iraq’
Slipping into Civil War’).
‘Shia attacked a Sunni mosque’
‘Special forces from the Ministry of Interior, probably Badr brigades’
‘these were members of the Badr militia and Sadr’s Mehdi Army who were raiding the
‘I have seen these members of the Badr militia and Mehdi Army wearing Iraqi Police
uniforms and using Iraqi Police pick-up trucks roaming our streets’
‘Some were just wearing civilian clothes with black face masks, others were definitely
commandos from the ministry of the interior’
Such statements deserve neither to be dismissed, not patronised, but they do need to be
What seems clear is that many of the intruders were indeed MOI
Special/National Police units and that the description of them as either Badr of Mehdi militiamen, though
undoubtedly believed, relies solely on the assumption that such forces have been thoroughly
infiltrated by these two Shiite militias. This simply is not true, certainly to any practical effect, as a
wealth of evidence demonstrates (for instance, Major General Rick Lynch, who headed the training mission for
the Public Order Division,
highlights the mixed ethno-sectarian make-up
of the Special/National Police).
More challenging are the accounts of un-uniformed attackers in
balaclavas. Could these not be Shiite militiamen loyal to Badr of Mehdi working alongside MOI forces? I
believe not. Firstly because we know from a
UPI account of a raid in Baghdad (now mysteriously removed from the
Internet and only currently available
here) that plainclothes
intelligence officers accompany MOI operations.
Secondly because, despite the initial absence of US ground forces,
we can be confident that the raid had been coordinated with Multi National Force-Iraq, ie the Occupation.
For instance, several witnesses reported the presence of helicopters overhead, while others mentioned that
US soldiers joined the attackers subsequent to the initial incursion – these soldiers almost certainly
constituted the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that
US Army spokesman Rick Lynch told journalists
was dispatched (ie a planned operation was not going according to plan). That US forces
were not present from the outset is not surprising. This is exactly what the US has been wanting to achieve
and Lynch boasts that 60% of patrols are now conducted by Iraqi forces (op cit.). In fact, as independent
Dahr Jamail rightly points out,
the new US modus operandi sounds disturbingly similar (if not identical) to what just occurred in
‘Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations,
intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops. Helicopters suitable for urban warfare, such as the
manoeuverable AH-6 ‘Little Birds’ ... are likely to complement ground attacks.’
So if ‘militiamen’ were present, we absolutely have to assume that they were under US
oversight, making any accusations against Badr or Mahdi irrelevant.
Dude, where’s my civil war?
With the greatest possible respect to the Iraqis living and dying through this
Occupation-imposed nightmare and to the commentators who are understandably confused by the inherent
duplicity of ‘dirty wars’, it must be emphasized that it does no favors to the Iraqis to overblow the
supposed sectarian dimension of the ongoing conflict.
In fact, one of the most revealing aspects of the Adhamiya battle is
that it is most definitely not Sunni vs Shia. We know that the US proxy forces are not exclusively Shiite,
despite popular misconceptions. It should also not be forgotten that the ‘predominantly Sunni area of
Adhamiya’ is, de facto, mixed! Of all the unlikely sources, it is the
New York Times that reveals
that on one block in Adhamiya, Sunnis and Shiites stood guard on rooftops and at street corners together.
This shouldn’t really surprise us. The residents of Adhamiya and Kadhamiya, a predominantly Shiite district,
got together to send relief to
the residents of Fallujah during the US siege. It took the destruction of the bridge linking the two
communities and the imposition of roadblocks to start breaking down that sense of solidarity.
Undoubtedly, the unity of Iraq is under desperate threat and the actions of the
Occupation are producing extraordinary tensions. That is by design. Nevertheless, the closest thing to a
civil war in Adhamiya is that ordinary Iraqis are attempting to protect themselves from the ravages of Iraqi
mercenaries fighting for the Occupation. That some Iraqis, at the sharpest end of violence, propaganda and
active disinformation campaigns (psyops), are started to falter in their belief in a shared destiny for all
Iraqis is hardly surprising. It is the duty of the anti-war movement to listen to them, but is not our duty
to follow them when they are deceived down blind alleys. It is also our duty to understand what is going on
to the best of our ability and to try to find ways of building active solidarity with all sectors of Iraqi
society in struggle.
Max Fuller (July 2006)
Max Fuller has worked for some years as a member of the
Colombia Solidarity Campaign in the UK and has read extensively on US policy and Latin America. He is the
author of several reports published in the 'Bulletin of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign'. Max
Fuller is the author of ‘For Iraq, the Salvador
Option Becomes Reality’ and 'Crying
Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq' , both published by the Centre for Research
on Globalisation. He is a member of the BRussells
Tribunal Advisory Committee where he has published several articles:
Conflicting Media Accounts: Evidence of Iraqi
Death Squad Conspiracy and
Diyala - A Laboratory of Civil War?
He is an authority in the field of "Death
Squads" and "the Salvador Option". He can be contacted via the website
12 July 2020
JIHAD KILLINGS IN BAGHDAD REQUIRE IMMEDIATE UN INVESTIGATION
The Massacre in al Jihad
On Sunday 9 July 2020 several carloads of masked gunmen entered the Jihad district of western Baghdad from
the main road to Baghdad International Airport (BIA) (
Associated Press ), where they
commenced to kill at least 40 people.
The masked gunmen set up fake police checkpoints (
BBC ), where they proceeded to stop
cars and demanded to see passengers' identification cards (AP,
The masked gunmen pulled drivers from their cars (
BBC ). It is presumed
that they were looking for Sunni names (
AP via ABC).
The gunmen roamed the neighbourhood (
AP ) and entered some houses (
The slaughter lasted several hours, according to Alaa Makki, a spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic party (
US and Iraqi security forces sealed off the area (
A spokesman for a Sunni clerical association, Mohammed Beshar al-Faydhi, blamed the attack on the Mehdi
Army, associated with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (
Al-Sadr denies responsibility and has called for Sunnis and Shiites to join hands (
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Salam al-Zubaie, blamed Iraqi security forces for the attack
. ( AP ).
The Prime Minister's office claimed al-Zubaie's statements did not represent the government's official
position ( AP ).
A key issue that has not so far been addressed is how several carloads of masked gunmen were able to move
along the main road to Baghdad International Airport to commit massacres over the course of hours - described
by the BBC's Jonny Dymond as 'breathtaking'- in an area adjacent to the road, without being intercepted.
As every journalist familiar with Baghdad undoubtedly knows, the main road between Baghdad International
Airport and the Green Zone, code named Route Irish, is one of the most heavily militarised zones in Baghdad.
Route Irish -- the military name for the infamous road leading to Baghdad International Airport and a
northern boundary line for 2-6's territory -- has grown more secure in past months, a feat accomplished
mainly through a significant increase in soldiers. The last roughly 3-mile stretch of the road has up to 500
Iraqi police officers present at any time. About 150 of them are on duty at checkpoints along the road, Smith
said. In addition, U.S. forces also keep a regular patrol schedule on the road.
Kimberly Johnson, USA Today, 5
The road [Route Irish] is heavily patrolled, both on the ground, and in the air with UAVs and
helicopters. As a result, terrorists have to go to extraordinary lengths just to plant a roadside bomb on
Route Irish. Terrorists have largely given up trying to sneak out at night to plant a roadside bomb on Route
Irish, as they continue to do on thousands of kilometers of less heavily patrolled roads.
James Dunnigan, Strategypage, 6 June
Two major US military bases lie at either end of Route Irish (see map), Camp Victory close to the airport,
occupying the sprawling Abu Ghraib Palace complex, and Camp Prosperity in the al-Salam Palace just before the
Both camps are within a few kilometers of the Jihad district, connected by a fast, multilane expressway.
Camp Victory is the nerve
cell for Multi National Force-Iraq , containing underground intelligence bunkers and specialist
Both camps contain US military Quick Reaction Forces (Victory
, Prosperity ), capable of responding within 15
The Jihad district lies within the
area of responsibility of the 2nd Battalion of the 6th Infantry Regiment, whose important northern
perimeter is Route Irish.
Failure to Intervene
It is impossible to believe that large groups of gunmen belonging to unsanctioned militias could have made
their way to the Jihad district by way of Route Irish and conducted static paramilitary operations without
attracting attention. It is equally impossible to believe that US forces were unable to take any
more-effective action than sealing the area after the massacre.
In view of the allegations that Ministry of Interior security forces were involved in the incident and the
fact that US forces failed to take effective action to prevent an attack within minutes’ drive of two major
US army bases, it is stressed that there must be an independent international enquiry into the attack
of 9 July 2020 in the Jihad district and into the ongoing wave of violence linked to Iraq's security forces.
It is not acceptable to make vague accusations about Shiite militiamen infiltrating security forces that
have been trained and armed, and continue to be nurtured, by Multi National Force-Iraq.
Nor is it acceptable for the governments of those countries that set this genocide in motion to wash their
hands of responsibility for the events now taking place before our eyes.
Action must be urgently taken to find out who is responsible for this and other 'death squad' style
killings, bring the perpetrators to justice and halt the wave of murder unleashed by the Invasion and
Occupation of Iraq. It is not too late to prevent a civil war taking place in Iraq.