Back on January 28, 2007 there occurred one of the biggest battles of the post-invasion phase of the Iraq War. Hundreds of civilians were reported killed and hundreds more civilians reported captured after significant ground and air activities in the area.
I was reading the still messy and not-well-organized wiki page on The Battle of Najaf and found an interesting update:
10 Iraqi cult members sentenced to death
Middle East Times/September 2, 2007
Najaf, Iraq — Ten members of an Iraqi doomsday cult were sentenced to death Sunday, and 394 jailed for their roles in a January rebellion against Iraqi and US troops that left hundreds dead, police said.
“The criminal court passed judgement on 458 accused,” Najaf police chief Brigadier General Abdel Karim Mustapha said.
“It sentenced 10 leaders of the Soldiers of Heaven to death, and decided to release 54 of them,” he said. “The rest were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 15 years to life.”
In January, the militant sect, dubbing itself the Jund Al Samaa or “Soldiers of Heaven,” clashed with US and Iraqi forces outside the holy city of Najaf, three days ahead of the Shiite Ashura festival.
The fighting left 263 sect followers dead, including their messianic leader Dhia Abdel Zahra Kadhim Al Krimawi, also known as Abu Kamar, who believed himself to be a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Iraqi security forces reportedly lost three soldiers and three policemen.
After the battle, police rounded up hundreds of sect members and put them on trial.
“With today’s sentencing, the curtain has fallen on the Soldiers of Heaven group,” Mustapha said.
Abu Kamar has also claimed to be a descendant of the Imam Mehdi, an 8th-century imam who vanished as a boy and, who, Shiites believe, will return to bring justice to the world.
At the time of the attack, Najaf deputy governor Abdel Hussein Attan said that the well-structured group planned to attack senior Shiite clerics and seize control of religious sites in Najaf, in a sign the Mehdi was about to reappear.
According to wikipedia (currently) the Middle East Times parent company is owned by the Unification Church. Can anyone confirm, add to or refute the accuracy of this MET report?
See also: Scanlyze tag Najaf
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
The New York Times has an excellent article today (May 31, 2007) describing testimony regarding eight American soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines accused of unlawfully killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. It isn’t entirely clear from the news articles but I surmise that these were Article 32 proceedings.
The article, 2 Marines Deny Suspecting Haditha War Crime, by Paul Von Zielbaur, details testimony by two First Lieutenants which was just made public. The recently released testimony is from First Lt. Alexander Martin and First Lt. Max D. Frank.
Lt. Martin testified that the killings in Haditha had made the civilian population more cooperative:
After 19 November, I had people coming up to me to tell me where the I.E.D.’s [land mines] were.
Lt. Frank testified about the activities of the detail which policed the scene. According to the Times report:
Lieutenant Frank told a Marine prosecutor that each of the eight bodies he found on the bed had “multiple holes” in it, and that one child’s head was missing. But Lieutenant Frank repeatedly said in his testimony that he had never considered the possibility that a war-crime violation had occurred, the legal threshold under Marine Corps regulations that compels an episode to be reported to a superior officer…
The marines had only four or five body bags at the base and used them to collect the largest of the dead civilians, said Lieutenant Frank. The children’s remains were placed in trash bags, he said. When the marines’ four-Humvee convoy carrying the bodies arrived at a local hospital morgue that evening, Iraqi workers reacted in horror and some vomited at the sight, he testified.
An investigation of the killings by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell in 2006 found, “Statements made by the chain of command during interviews for this investigation, taken as a whole, suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the Marines need to get ‘the job done’ no matter what it takes. These comments had the potential to desensitize the Marines to concern for the Iraqi populace and portray them all as the enemy even if they are noncombatants… The lessons for staff procedures and reporting are basic, but the case study will illustrate how simple failures can lead to disastrous results,” according to the Washington Post.
An interesting and comprehensive article from the July 1996 Army Lawyer examined the question of what obligations US troops have toward the dead, whether or not collected on the field of battle. The publication is citable as Army pamphlet 27-50-284:
The Third Priority: The Battlefield Dead
Lieutenant Colonel H. Wayne Elliott,
Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United Stares Army (Retired)
…The general obligation to the wounded is that
they be promptly treated without regard to their nationality. This
article examines the narrower issue of the duty a belligerent owes
to those who are beyond treatment-the dead. What obligations
exist regarding the dead? Must they be buried? If so, under
what conditions? Are the dead to be protected? If so, from what?
What of the property of the dead? What criminal sanctions apply
to maltreatment of the dead and their property? …
Article 15 expands the duty set out in the 1929 Geneva Convention.
The obligation under the 1949 Geneva Convention applies
“at all times” and is imposed on all parties, not just the force
left in control of the battlefield. …
The official Red Cross Commentary to the Convention,
which provides explanation and interpretation of the
treaty, describes the obligation to search for and protect the wounded
and dead as a “bounden duty, which must be fulfilled as soon as
circumstances permit.” However, this seems to be a slight overstatement
as the actual obligation to the dead is different from
that to the wounded. The obligation regarding the dead is to search
for them and to “prevent their being despoiled.” The requirement
is to collect the wounded and sick, but only to search for the dead.
Again, however, the Red Cross Commentary expands the obligation:
The dead must also be looked for and brought
back behind the lines with as much care as the
wounded. It is not always certain that death
has taken place. It is, moreover, essential that
the dead bodies should be identified and given
a decent burial. When a man has been hit with
such violence that there is nothing left of him
but scattered remains, these must be carefully
In October 1967, General Westmoreland, United
States Commander in Vietnam, described the practice of cutting
ears and fingers off the dead as “subhuman” and “contrary to all
policy and below the minimum standards of human decency.”
In the primary army manual on the law of war during the Vietnam
War, which still applies today, the “maltreatment of dead bodies”
is described as an act “representative of violations of the law of
war (war crimes)”…
Where the corpse is actually mutilated, the accused, if charged
under the UCMJ, might be charged only with “conduct prejudicial
to good order and discipline” (Article 134, UCMJ) or with a
violation of any standing orders against such conduct (Article 92,
UCMJ). Either of these two charges seems less than appropriate
given the severity, and depravity, of the offense. Therefore, in the
opinion of this author, one who mutilates a corpse should be
charged, and again would be more appropriately charged, with a
direct violation of the law of war. The United States policy of
charging United States soldiers with violating the UCMJ rather
than the law of war simply stands in the way of appropriate punishment
where mutilation of a corpse is alleged.
War leads to death and destruction. Those who give their
lives in warfare deserve respect, even from their adversaries on
the battlefield. The law and human decency permit no less. The
inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington
Cemetery provides the raison d’etre for protecting and honorably
treating the dead: “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American
Soldier, Known But to God.”
So we must pose the question: Would collecting the bodies and dismembered body parts of the children in garbage bags and delivering them in this condition to an Iraqi hospital constitute appropriate treatment of the dead under the laws of war? To say nothing of course of blowing the children and their mother to bits with grenades and M4’s or M16’s as they cowered in their bedroom in the first place.
Deaths & injuries in the massacre
House #1 — 7 killed, 2 injured (but survived), 2 escaped
1. Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 76 — grandfather, father and husband. Died with nine rounds in the chest and abdomen.
2. Khamisa Tuma Ali, 66 — wife of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali
3. Rashid Abdul Hamid, 30.
4. Walid Abdul Hamid Hassan, 35.
5. Jahid Abdul Hamid Hassan, middle-aged man.
6. Asma Salman Rasif, 32.
7. Abdullah Walid, 4.
Injured: Iman, 8, and Abdul Rahman, 5.
Escaped: Daughter-in-law, Hibbah, escaped with 2-month-old Asia
House #2 — 8 killed, 1 survivor: Shot at close range and attacked with grenades
8. Younis Salim Khafif, 43 — husband of Aeda Yasin Ahmed, father.
9. Aeda Yasin Ahmed, 41 — wife of Younis Salim Khafif, killed trying to shield her youngest daughter Aisha.
10. Muhammad Younis Salim, 8 — son.
11. Noor Younis Salim, 14 — daughter.
12. Sabaa Younis Salim, 10 — daughter.
13. Zainab Younis Salim, 5 — daughter.
14. Aisha Younis Salim, 3 — daughter.
15. A 1-year-old girl staying with the family.
Survived: Safa Younis Salim, 13.
House #3 — 4 brothers killed
16. Jamal Ahmed, 41.
17. Marwan Ahmed, 28.
18. Qahtan Ahmed, 24.
19. Chasib Ahmed, 27.
Taxi — 5 killed: Passengers were students at the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah
20. Ahmed Khidher, taxi driver.
21. Akram Hamid Flayeh.
22. Khalid Ayada al-Zawi.
23. Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi.
24. Mohammed Battal Mahmoud.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
My Reply to a Letter from US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on the Iraq War
I wrote back on February 3 in this space that I had called Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) regarding an anti-war resolution passed by the local Ann Arbor Democratic Party organization in January 2007. I got this letter in the mail from her today:
UNITED STATES SENATE
Washington, DC 20510-2204
March 12, 2007
…for contacting me about the war in Iraq. I share your deeply-held concerns and appreciate hearing your views on this important matter.
In 2002, I was one of only 23 Senators to vote against the Iraq War Resolution. The decision to go to war is one that should be made with great trepidation when out country is at risk and all other options have been exhausted. From day one, the reasoning for this war has been flawed and inconsistent. Our men and women in uniform deserve better.
I believe it is a serious mistake to increase the number of American troops in Iraq. We must do everything we can to support those serving out country. Sending more Americans into combat without a strategy for success will not improve the situation on the ground in Iraq, and it will not bring our armed forces home any sooner. I joined 56 of my colleagues in voting for a bipartisan resolution opposing the President’s escalation war plan, and I am extremely disappointed that it was filibustered by the minority in the Senate.
A free and stable Iraq can only be secured by the Iraqis. They must embrace responsibility for their collective future and decide that living and dying at the hands of sectarian violence is not the future that they want for their children or grandchildren. We cannot substitute American troops for Iraqi resolve.
I am supporting legislation, recently introduced by Senator Harry Reid, that will require the President to begin phased redeployment within 120 days, and a full redeployment of all American combat troops in Iraq by March 31, 2008. We can no longer follow the same failed strategy in Iraq. I remain committed to changing the course that has been set and bringing our service men and women home safely.
Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will join me in keeping our soldiers and their families, as well as the people in Iraq, in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Please contact me again when I may be of assistance to you or your family
United States Senator
Having met Senator Stabenow in October, 2006 in Ann Arbor and having briefly discussed with her, her support for the atrocious “Military Commissions Act,” I think it is fair to say that she does not share all of my concerns.
“Our men and women in uniform deserve better.” This is very odd and specious reasoning. In a democratic society, the nation doesn’t exist to serve the military, rather the reverse. If a violent gang was overrunning a neighborhood and destroying it, killing and torturing hundreds of people, we wouldn’t put up signs saying “support our Mafia” or “bring home our Crips”. We wouldn’t say, “our gang members deserve better”.
“A free and stable Iraq can only be secured by the Iraqis”. If this is true, it certainly cannot be accomplished while the country is under hostile foreign domination. No Iraqi government can be regarded as anything but a Quisling, puppet front for the US under the current occupation. The Iraqis didn’t smash their country to ruins, we did. And we then emplaced by force a factionalized and corrupt government and instituted a reign of terror perhaps even worse than Saddam’s, killing, raping, torturing and imprisoning without trial tens of thousands of people. The Iraqis, and the US occupation, even use some of the same prisons, torture facilities, “rape rooms” and execution chambers as the old Iraqi regime.
All the service men and women are not going to be brought home safely. Delaying the withdrawal for another year or more will condemn thousands more Americans, and tens of thousands more Iraqis, to mental trauma, crippling injury, and death. If we wait until the Green Zone collapses and is overrun, thousands of Americans may be held prisoner and be tortured in concentration camps as happened to the French after the surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. As it stands, US forces will have to fight their way out under difficult circumstances even if they started withdrawing today. The sooner the US forces are withdrawn, the better for Iraq and the US both.
There is no mention here in Stabenow’s letter of negotiation. Like it or not, we must negotiate with our enemies. That’s with whom one has negotiations to end a war. Not only is this the best way to salvage something from a disaster, it also provides useful information about the resistance leadership, capabilities, and intentions.
The United States has suffered a stinging strategic defeat in Iraq. There were unforced, critical errors. There were no substantial stockpiles of weaponized NBC agents found, thus undermining the pretext for the war and undercutting any tenuous basis in international law expounded to the UN by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Disbanding the Iraqi army rather than continuing to pay them to remain in their barracks was an idiotic mistake. And the de-Baathification law, while laudable in purpose, served to marginalize, alienate, impoverish and radicalize the middle-class and intelligentsia, paving the way for very nasty, regressive and atavistic factions to take power.
The United States accomplished its stated war aims in Iraq some time ago. There were few illicit weapons found in Iraq. And Saddam is dead. Yet the US stays on. There is no further strategic objective there to “win”. The United States can either withdraw in as good order as possible now, or stay in Iraq and Afghanistan until it “loses”.
Stabenow once again presents a moral inversion in her closing paragraph where she encourages “thoughts and prayers,” for “our soldiers and their families, as well as the people of Iraq”. The people of Iraq didn’t do anything to the US to deserve 4 years of bombing, rape, and torture. Why do they deserve second billing in our prayers only after those who are oppressing, raping, and murdering them?
Stabenow and the other right-wing Democrats want the US public to believe they are moving to end the war even though, in fact, they are moving to fund it for at least another year, and laying the groundwork for a permanent US occupation “to fight terror”. Will they fight jealousy, envy, rage, grief and sorrow as well?
It is the US troops in Iraq and the men who sent them there who are the “evildoers” as far as initiating an illegal aggressive war on the basis of lies and propaganda. Do they really deserve our sympathy, or our support? Or should the responsible civilian and military leaders of the US forces be tried for war crimes such as “waging an aggressive war,” “genocide” and “crimes against humanity”?
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Human Rights Watch has compiled a comprehensive report about the case of one of the “disappeared”, Marwan Jabour. Most of the docile and pathetic British and US press have ‘reported’ on this publication without managing to link to it or even so much as mention the name of the report!
Here’s a bit from the Summary:
When Marwan Jabour opened his eyes, after a blindfold, a mask, and other coverings were taken off him, he saw soldiers and, on the wall behind them, framed photographs of King Hussein and King Abdullah of Jordan. He was tired and disoriented from his four-hour plane flight and subsequent car trip, but when a guard confirmed that he was being held in Jordan, he felt indescribable relief. In his more than two years of secret detention, nearly all of it in US custody, this was the first time that someone had told him where he was. The date was July 31, 2006.
A few weeks later, in another first, the Jordanians allowed several of Jabour’s family members to visit him. “My father cried the whole time,” Jabour later remembered.
Marwan Jabour was arrested by Pakistani authorities in Lahore, Pakistan, on May 9, 2004. He was detained there briefly, then moved to the capital, Islamabad, where he was held for more than a month in a secret detention facility operated by both Pakistanis and Americans, and finally flown to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prison in what he believes was Afghanistan. During his ordeal, he later told Human Rights Watch, he was tortured, beaten, forced to stay awake for days, and kept naked and chained to a wall for more than a month. Like an unknown number of Arab men arrested in Pakistan since 2001, he was “disappeared” into US custody: held in unacknowledged detention outside of the protection of the law, without court supervision, and without any contact with his family, legal counsel, or the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The secret prison program under which Jabour was held was established in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when US President George W. Bush signed a classified directive authorizing the CIA to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists. Because the entire program was run outside of US territory, it required the support and assistance of other governments, both in handing over detainees and in allowing the prisons to operate.
–from the Summary of Ghost Prisoner: Two Years in Secret CIA Detention
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
BBC quotes acting Tal Afar mayor Brig Gen. Nijm Abdullah with more information regarding the alleged rape and torture of a mother of 11 by Iraqi soldiers in northern Iraq:
…Gen Abdullah said he had received a complaint from tribal leaders that a group of soldiers had entered the woman’s house “a few days ago” and raped her.
“One of the soldiers did not approve. His name is Mushtaq Taleb from Basra. He wanted to stop his comrades by threatening them with weapons because it is an immoral act, but the rape took place anyway,” Gen Abdullah added.
He said he had referred the troops to the judiciary for prosecution.
The woman is thought to be a 40-year-old married mother of 11 from Iraq’s Turkoman minority.
The defendants are identified as a lieutenant and three enlisted men.
If the BBC report is correct, then Mushtaq Taleb should be commended for trying to stop the rape and torture of this mother.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy