Monday, October 13, 2014

Shia militias in Iraq have kidnapped and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months, a report by campaign group Amnesty International has said.

The killings were in apparent revenge for attacks by Islamic State (IS).

Amnesty said the militias had been supported and armed by the Iraqi government and operated with impunity.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who took office last month, has admitted to previous "excesses" by security forces and vowed to govern for all Iraqis.

He has not yet commented directly on allegations contained in the Amnesty report but has previously said Iraq faces an "existential" battle against militants from Islamic State, also known as Isis or Isil.

Mr Abadi has also acknowledged, in what is believed to be a reference to Sunnis, that his government must address the "legitimate grievances" of the Iraqi people.


The Amnesty report, based on interviews conducted in Iraq in August and September, provides details of what it says were sectarian attacks carried out by militiamen in the cities of Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk.

It says scores of unidentified bodies have been found, many still handcuffed and with gunshot wounds to the head, suggesting execution-style killings. Many others who disappeared remain unaccounted for.

Amnesty says that in Samarra, a mainly Sunni city north of Baghdad, it obtained details of more than 170 Sunni men abducted since June.

More than 30 were taken from or near their homes in a single day - 6 June - shot dead and their bodies dumped nearby.

"The killing spree seems to have been in reprisal for a brief incursion into the city the previous day" by IS fighters, Amnesty says.

'Blind revenge'

Amnesty says the militias - including Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army and Kata'ib Hizbullah - have become more powerful since June, when the Iraqi army fell into disarray in the face of IS advances.

Correspondents say much of the fighting against IS since then has been carried out by militias, who were able to recruit thousands of volunteers, rather than the army.

Many Shia men volunteered to fight IS; there is no suggestion any of those pictured in this article have been involved in killing civilians

Shia militias have carried out much of the fighting against IS after the Iraqi army's retreat
There are now "tens of thousands" of militiamen, who "wear military uniforms but operate outside any legal framework and without any official oversight", Amnesty says.

The report quotes an unidentified Iraqi government official as saying that militias "mostly... kidnap Sunnis, because the victims can easily be labelled as terrorists and nobody is going to do anything about it".

Another unnamed government official said some Sunni men were considered to be "terrorists or terrorist supporters" because of where they lived. Others were killed "in blind revenge".

"I'm afraid that we're regressing back to the situation as it was seven or eight years ago, when this behaviour was very widespread," he said.

Militiamen have also tried to extort ransoms, sometimes killing their captives even after payments have been made, Amnesty said.

"I begged friends and acquaintances to lend me the ransom money to save my son but after I paid they killed him and now I have no way to pay back the money I borrowed, as my son was the only one working in the family," one mother said.

Amnesty says the militias have taken advantage of an "atmosphere of lawlessness" but the Iraqi government, which has armed and supported them, bears responsibility for their actions.

"By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence," said Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser, Donatella Rovera.

"The new Iraqi government... must act now to rein in the militias and establish the rule of law."


Iraqi Shia militias accused of murder spree

Amnesty International says sectarian groups have abducted and killed scores of Sunnis during war against ISIL.

Last updated: 14 Oct 2014 02:54

Shia fighters allegedly have carried out abductions and killings in retribution for crimes committed by ISIL [AFP]

Shia militias have abducted and murdered scores of Sunni civilians in Iraq in crimes committed in retribution against the actions of ISIL, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

The London-based rights group on Tuesday published what it said was evidence that Shia militias abducted civilians in Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk, and killed them even if families paid tens of thousands of dollars in ransom.

The Amnesty report, Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq, said scores of unidentified bodies had been discovered handcuffed and with gunshot wounds, indicating a pattern of deliberate killings. 

The group called on the Iraqi government, which has armed and encouraged militias including the Badr brigades and the Mehdi army, to fight ISIL, to hold them to account.
Militias operate outside any legal framework and without official oversight, and had contributed to a deterioration in security and to the increasing lawlessness in Iraq, Amnesty said.

"Shia militias are ruthlessly targeting Sunni civilians on a sectarian basis under the guise of fighting terrorism, in an apparent bid to punish Sunnis for the rise of ISIL and for its heinous crimes," Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser, said.

"By failing to hold militias accountable for war crimes and other gross human rights abuses the Iraqi authorities have effectively granted them free rein to go on the rampage against Sunnis. The new Iraqi government of prime minister Haider al-Abbadi must act now to rein in the militias and establish the rule of law."

The Amnesty document included evidence from relatives of those who had gone missing or were killed.

It reported that one family had paid $60,000 to have a family member released, only to find his body two weeks later in a Baghdad morge, his head crushed and his hands cuffed.

Amnesty also accused Iraqi government forces of serious human rights violations, presenting what it said was evidence of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, and deaths in custody of Sunni men held under the 2005 anti-terrorism law.

It cited one example of a 33-year-old lawyer who died in custody, his body showing open wounds and burns consistent with the application of electric shocks.

Another man was held for five months and tortured with electric shocks and threatened with rape before being released without charge.

"Successive Iraqi governments have displayed a callous disregard for fundamental human rights principles," Rovera said.

"The new government must now change course and put in place effective mechanisms to investigate abuses by Shi’a militias and Iraqi forces and hold accountable those responsible."

Al Jazeera


See report:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Terrorist Groups Operating in Iraq

In Iraq today, unfortunately there a  host of different terrorist and criminal paramilitary groups that operate in Iraq, killing innocent civilians, expelling people from their homes, and attacking houses of worship. Some are on the radar and get the attention of the world media, and yet others operate underneath the radar. Nevertheless they have killed thousands and forced millions to flee their homes.  They include:

1. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or Sham or Levant) or ISIS, or ISIL, or DA'ISH as it is known in Arabic, led by Ibrahim Al-Badri (also known as Al-Baghdadi). They are based in Syria and Iraq. Some reports that they have ties to the Syrian Intelligence services belonging to the Assad regime, and the Iranian Intelligence, Talieh. 

2. Iranian Quds Force (which is a special paramilitary organization underneath the Iranian Revolutionary Guards). The Quds Force is led by Qasim Sulaymani. The Quds militia has been active in massacres of civilians in Diyala, Basra, Samarra, and Tikrit.

3. Asaib Ahl-Haq militia led by Qais al-Khazali. The Asaib militia, which is an offshoot of the Sadrist Mahdi Army Militia, has been notorious for massacres and mass executions of civilians in Diyala and villages outside of Baghdad. The most recent massacre was when the Asaib militiamen entered Musab bin Umayr Mosque in Diyala and slaughtered over 70 worshipers during the Friday prayers.

4. Sarayah Salam Militia (formerly Mehdi Army or Jaish Al-Mahdi, JAM) led by Moqtada Al-Sadr This militia has an extensive arsenal of rockets and armored vehicles, and had military parade in Baghdad in the summer of 2014. The militia is reportedly attacking homes in Samarra.

5. Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi Militia (Popular Mobilization Militia) another Sadrist militia, using the fatwa of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to rally the fight against Sunnis. The militia has been reportedly fighting around Samarra and Tikrit. Haider Al-Abadi announced in September of 2014, that this militia was fighting alongside the government forces.

6. Badr Forces Militia, led by Hadi al-Amiri. Badr has been notorious for infiltrating the ranks of the Interior Ministry forces and responsible for the arrest, torture, and mass executions of Sunnis.

7. Abul-Fadhil Al-Abbass Brigade Militia, which has been reported active in fighting inside Syria defending the Assad regime, and recently fighting around Samarra and Tikrit.

8. Sarayah Talee'at Al-Khurasani (Khurasani Vanguard) Militia led by Ali Mahdi Al-Yasiri. It is controlled by Al-Talee'a Islamic Party, formed by Mohamed Taqi Al-Mudrassi. It has been fighting in Syria, mostly around Damascus, defending the Assad Regime. Some of the fighters have come back from Syria to fight in Samarra and around Tikrit.

9. Iraqi Hezbollah Militia led by Wathiq Al-Battat (which has become known by making terrorist threats against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). The Interior Ministry actually issued an arrest warrant for Al-Battat for threatening to assassinate government officials, but the warrant was never executed

10. Hezbollah Al-Nujabaa Movement Militia led by Akram Al-Kaabi. The militia was formed by Al-Kaabi as an offshoot of the Asaib militia. The militia fought in Syria defending the Assad Regime, and is reported to join the other militias fighting in Samarra.  The militia has reportedly 3 battalions called Ammar Bin Yassir Battalion, Imam Hassan Al-Mujtabi Battalian, and Al-Hamad Battalion. 

11. Hezbollah Militia led by Karim Mahood Muhammadawi, who was infamous for running kidnapping and extortion rackets and trading in stolen properties (mostly cars) in Basra and the Marshland areas. 

12. Hezbollah Movement Militia led by Hassan Al-Sari

13.  Ghasl Al-Aar (Wash the Shame) Militia led by Jafar Al-Ragheef. The militia specialized in targeting for executions, Shiites who became Sunnis.

14. Al-Paratha Husseiniya Militia led by Jalaluddin al-Saghir. This militia was notorious for running secret torture chambers at the Al-Paratha center, in Aytefiyah area of Baghdad. 

15. Al-Youm Al-Mawoud (Promised Day) Brigade, belonging to the Sadrist Militia leaders Hazem Al-Ajraji and Ali Samaysem.

16. Yed Allah (Hand of God) Militia led by Ahmed al-Saadi

17. Thaer Allah (Revenge of God) Militia led by Walid al-Hilli 

18. Thaer Allah (Revenge of God) Organization Militia led by Yusuf Al-Sanadi  

19. Baqeyat Allah (Rest of God) Militia led by Mustafa al-Abadi.

20. Shaheed Al-Mahrab (Prayer Martyr) Militia led Ammar al-Hakim. This is an offshoot of the Badr Brigades, but it is led by the Islamic Higher Council party head Al-Hakim.

21. Dawa Party Militia led by Nouri Al-Maliki. Maliki established special paramilitaries from his Dawa party that reported to the Prime Minister's office.

22. Dawa Party - Iraq Branch Militia, led by Hashim al-Moussawi and Abdel-Karim Anzi.

23. World Aal-Bayt Militia led by Fadel Al Kaabi

24. Aal-Bayt Association Militia led by Musa Al-Hassani

25. Al-Qassas Al-Adil (Just Retribution) Militia led by Majid Ali Hussein

26. Kataib Al-Qassas (Retribution Brigades) Militia led by Abdullah Al-Lami

27. Al-Marjaeyya Soldiers Militia, a force reporting to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani's office.

28. Al-Fatih (Conquering) Militia led by Sayed Kadhim Ali

29. Kataib Al-Dem Al-Zakeya (Pure Blood Brigades) Militia led by Ali Hakim. 

30. Sahwat Badr Militia, reporting to Nouri al-Maliki's personal guards.

31. Sarayah Al-Amr Bil-Marouf Wal Nahee An Al-Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Brigade) Militia led by Nadhim Al-Saree

32. Hussein Revenge Brigades Militia led by Ali Ghassan Shahbandar 

33. Mujaheed Al-Thawra Al-Islamiya Movement (Islamic Revolution Mujaheed Movement) Militia, linked to the Islamic Higher Council Party, led by Al-Hakeem.

34. Mokhtar Army Militia led by Atallah al-Husseini

35. Jund Al-Imam (Imam Soldiers) Militia led by Sami Al-Badri

36. Sarayah Al-Qassas (Retribution Brigades) Militia led by Rafid al-Maliki

37. Malik Ashtar Brigades, a militia led by Abbas Jaafer

38. Ashbal Al-Sadr (Sadr Cubs) Battalion Militia led by Mohammed Hussein Al-Sadr

39. Al-Mahdiya Movement Militia led by Mohammad Ali Al-Khurasani

40. Al-Fudhalaa (Virtuous) Militia led by Khazaal Al-Saadi

41. Al-Adalah (Justice) Militia led by Samir Sheikh Ali

42. Shaban 15 Organization Militia led by Hamza al-Battat

43. Badr Organization Militia led by Shaker Abu Rumi (this is separate from the Badr Forces led by Hadi Al-Ameri)

44. Sayid Al-Shuhada Movement (Master of Martyrs Movement) Militia led Nafee Al-Saymari and Sayed Dagher Al-Musawi

45. Iraqi National Congress militia led by Ahmed Chalabi. The INC militia was notorious for sectarian assassinations and executions early on 2003 to 2006, and filled the ranks of  the Interior Ministry forces.

46. Islamic Youth Gathering Militia led Muntisar Moussawi

47. Islamic Action Party Militia led by Sadiq Ali Hussein

48. Islamic Labor Organization Militia led by Abdul Karim Al-Mudarassi

49. Kawthar Committee to Rebuild the Shrines Militia led by Mansour Haqeqat

50. Anti-Terrorism Association Militia reporting to Muawafaq Al-Rubaie 

Many of these groups operate under the color of law and are closely linked to the central government security forces, which have been infiltrated by many of these paramilitary groups. In fact many of these militias are actually escorted by government security forces and military, and carry out the massacres under the cover of the government forces.

As you can see, the number of terrorist and criminal paramilitary groups in Iraq is huge, and unfortunately only one or two actually gets mentioned in the media. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Iraq: Campaign of Mass Murders of Sunni Prisoners [1]
Set International Inquiry Into Massacres by Security Forces, Allied Militias