Dozens of American forces arrived in sport utility vehicles to a house in northwestern Baghdad before dawn on Friday morning to blast their way into the home before ransacking each room in the house and making off with handcuffed men, a pound of gold jewelry, and $40,000 in cash, family members told IraqSlogger.
Slogger spoke with family members living in the targeted home in Baghdad's notheastern Ur district, who said that at least two dozen American forces arrived at about 2:00 a.m. and used explosive charges to blast open the doors and windows of the house before storming in.
Family members told IraqSlogger that the forces were not regular troops who arrive in armored personnel carriers. Neighbors told Slogger that the over dozen armed men were reportedly special operatives known on the streets of Baghdad as the American "dirty squads."
Four brothers living in the house were cuffed, blindfolded, and led out to the street, while female family members were sequestered into one room in the house, family members said. The forces used a metal detector to scan the women, female residents told IraqSlogger, then forcing women to remove and hand over whatever jewelry was detected, family members said.
Room-to-room searching operations began, in which the raiding forces ransacked every room of the house, residents said, leaving behind a trail of property damage, visible in these photos, and theft for which the family has been told that they will not be compensated.
The forces who stormed the house spoke to each other in English, family members said, and spoke to the building occupants through a translator. No armed Iraqi forces were present with the American squad, family members said.
Members of the raiding party smashed televisions and computer monitors, ripped out computer hard drives, tore doors off of cabinets, and left the family’s personal belongings littered throughout the ransacked rooms. The transparent glass oven door in the kitchen was found smashed. Family members said that the raiding force brought dogs with them to sniff the house.
Residents said that the equivalent of about $40,000 in cash disappeared in the raid, along with all the jewelry in the women’s possession. Family members estimated the missing gold to weigh altogether about half a kilogram, over one pound. One of the brothers living in the house had recently sold a piece of real estate elsewhere, a family member who was not present for the raid explained, and had the proceeds hidden in the house in cash denominated in US dollars.
The departing US forces warned family members not to stir until the force had been gone ten minutes, also telling family members that the confiscated jewelry and cash could be recovered the kitchen after the detachment departed. Yet after the forces departed the family searched through the kitchen and the rest of the house; the cash and valuables were not found.
Although the raiding force appeared not to seize any contraband or overtly suspicious items, family members said, the four brothers that were cuffed and blindfolded at the time of the raid were taken away by the raiding party to detention facilities. One member of the raiding force told family members that the detainees will face further questioning. Two of the detainees are government employees, family members said, while one is a youth of 17 years of age.
On Friday, neighbors in the area told Slogger that this section of the Ur district has been raided many times by regular American and Iraqi troops, but that the non-uniformed American operatives known to Iraqis as the American "dirty squads" only show up rarely to conduct operations. Residents told Slogger that they were terrified to look out their windows before dawn to see the dozens of armed forces rushing out of their SUV vehicles.
On Friday after the raid, family members traveled to a nearby American installation to seek redress but were told by US forces that the American military at the installation had nothing to do with the raid. Inquries with the regular Iraqi Police and Army were met with similar responses.
A neighbor told IraqSlogger that the “special forces don't answer to the Army or the Police.”
The US Army “will clean up its shit after it conducts a raid and maybe even pay compensation,” the neighbor said, using the expletive to refer to damages and disorder resulting from uniformed American military raids, but the shadowy special forces identified by residents as involved in this recent operation in Ur “have unlimited authority to arrest or even kill anyone they want and no one can ask them why,” he added.
Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.
Due to a translation error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the raid in the Ur district was conducted by Iraqi, not American, special forces. IraqSlogger regrets the error.