Saturday, April 03, 2010


25 Killed in Sectarian Slaughter in Baghdad
By Muhammed Al-Obaidi and Timothy Williams
The New York Times, April 3, 2010
"The killers came at night, speaking passable English and wearing uniforms and carrying weapons that resembled those of the American military. By the time they left the south Baghdad district of Hur Rijab on Friday evening, they had fatally shot or slit the throats of 25 members of an extended family, Iraqi officials said Saturday, in a chilling episode of violence reminiscent of the worst days of the country’s sectarian warfare in 2006 and 2007. Most of the 19 male victims had been members of Iraqi security forces or of Awakening Councils, groups that now partner with American forces and are employed by the Iraqi government to protect Sunni neighborhoods, but whose members had once been allied with Sunni extremist groups like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia during fighting against American troops. Members of Awakening Councils are often targeted by Al Qaeda as traitors, but their families have typically not been attacked.
Iraqi authorities said 25 people had been arrested as part of the investigation, including some who lived near the families. At Mahmudia Hospital, 25 coffins arrived on a truck Saturday morning for the victims, who ranged in age from teenagers to men in their 70s. Family members, men standing separate from women, waited outside the hospital, stunned by what had happened. Luyai Khadum said he had lost his father and four brothers. 'They were all killed,' he said. 'I lost five family members. We are a Dulaimy family so why would they do this to us?' Often, a mention of the family’s influential tribe, the Dulaimy, is enough to protect them. This time it was no help. Details of the attack remained sketchy Saturday afternoon, as Iraqi police cordoned off the neighborhood and ordered a curfew there. The known survivors are all children. But according to accounts by relatives of the victims, neighbors, Iraqi security officials, and others, as many as a dozen men wearing what resembled American and Iraqi military uniforms arrived in the neighborhood in a minibus and Iraqi military and police vehicles Friday night. Witnesses, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said some of the men wore black masks and carried weapons that resembled M-16 rifles, which are used by the American military. [...]"
[n.b. I guess the "Al Qaeda" theory is viable, but operating in a unit formation like this, with M-16s? Instead, it bears many of the hallmarks of a death-squad hit run out of the Shia-controlled Interior Ministry, without even much attempt to disguise it (just as in 2005-07). The targets are restive Sunnis who formerly battled the Shias, and who the US succeeded in neutralizing through the "Awakening" strategy. Now that the funds are drying up and the US is pulling out, those Sunnis -- and their families -- are left without resources, and vulnerable to attack by both vengeful Shias and whatever Al Qaeda elements still operate.]
[n.b. "'The Awakening people now are the easy targets for everyone.
The government targets us, and al-Qaeda targets us. The Americans are done with us, and they threw us under the bus. They lured us as friends, one by one." - Qais al-Jubouri, described as "a tribal leader who worked with the U.S. military and the Iraqi military and government to forge reconciliation in his area of southern Baghdad"; Washington Post, April 3, 2010.]

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