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Archive: June 2008
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RUMOR MILL
Residents Suspect Militia Rivalries Behind Series of Murders in Abu Dshir
06/27/2008 7:33 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Four members of the Badr organization were found killed in Abu Dshir on Thursday, residents of the area south of Baghdad tell Slogger, in what locals interpret as possible revenge attacks by members of the Mahdi Army militia.

Iraqis in the district south of the capital suspect that the murders of the Badr men may have been retaliation for the murder of the head of the Abu Dshir municipal council, Mahdi Atwan, was gunned down on Tuesday in front of his residence.

Residents of Abu Dshir say that the murdered local official was said to have links to the Mahdi Army, the armed group nominally loyal to the Shi'a Sadrist Current led by Muqtada al-Sadr.

Meanwhile, the Badr organization is widely recognized as the paramilitary wing of the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council (ISCI), the primary Shi'a rival to the Sadrist Current for primacy among the Iraqi Shi'a community.

Deadly low-level conflict has frequently pitted the two militia forces against each other in Iraq's Shi'a areas.

IraqSlogger cannot confirm the rumors reported by Abu Dshir residents.

See it here
Al-Furaiji Scolds Arab Media; Defends Army against Mass Graves Charges
06/25/2008 7:41 PM ET

Meet Brigadier General Ali Al-Furaiji, spokesman of the 25th Brigade of the 6th Division of the Iraqi Army, formerly known as the 4th Brigade of the 6th Division, who gave an interview recently with Alive in Baghdad.

Al-Furaiji's Brigade is responsible for much of western Baghdad, as well as areas stretching south of the city recently known as the so-called "Triangle of Death."

The weekly video journal introduces this week's segment as follows:

Lutufiyah, Iraq - Although there are competing theories about Iraq’s current status, rarely does the public hear from the soldiers or officers themselves. This week Nabeel Kamal speaks with Brigadier General Ali Al-Furaiji, a spokesman for Iraq’s 25th Brigade of the 6th Division of the Iraqi Army, formerly known as the 4th Brigade of the 6th Division.

Al-Furaiji discusses his frustration with Arab media’s portrayal of the Iraqi Army, despite what he considers to be many huge successes during 2008. The army has been accused of being involved in massacres and complicit in violence against civilians. Although it appears few if any detailed accounts have surfaced which clearly demonstrate the complicity of the army, rumors have a long life in Iraq.

In the US media the portrayals of Iraqi soldiers are no more detailed and complex, but primarily that is because they are few and far between. Although there has been a resurgence of Iraq coverage in line with the resurgence in violence, it tends to focus on statistics and death tolls, with the personal stories of military life generally focused on the experiences of American soldiers. Admittedly, it is difficult to interview Iraqi soldiers about their personal experiences, and dangerous to travel with thaem on patrol. This week we have brought you an interview with the spokesman, which carries the weight of potential propaganda. We have endeavored, however, to provide a personal look at one high-ranking officer of the Iraqi military, and hope it will provide an insight which might otherwise be missed.

Just as we have begun to bring you more accounts of the Sahwa forces than are easy to find elsewhere, we hope also to begin shedding light on the personal stories of Iraqi soldiers working to defend and rebuild their country. For another recent interview with Brigadier General Ali Al-Furaiji, you can read this recent article from Time Magazine.

RUMOR MILL
Locals: 11 Shi'a Party Supporters Found Dead in District over Last Week
06/16/2008 6:12 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Residents of the al-'Amil area tell IraqSlogger that eleven corpses of supporters of the Da'wa and Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council (ISCI) parties were discovered in separate places over the course of the week in the southwestern Baghdad district.

It is not known what forces are behind what appears to be a murder campaign against the two parties, which, though rivals, remain allied in support of the current Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who hails from the Da'wa party.

Locals say that rumors circulating in the district attribute the killings to so-called "Special Groups" operating in al-'Amil. IraqSlogger cannot confirm these allegations.

"Special Groups" is a term used for what appear to be elements of Mahdi Army militia who have slipped out of the control of the Sadrist organization to whom the militia is ostensibly loyal. US forces have accused the shadowy "Special Groups," whose membership and structure is unknown, of cooperating with Iranian intelligence. However, the ISCI is a longtime Iranian ally.

Locals say that rumors about the general ruthlessness and efficiency of the so-called "Special Groups" have spread in recent weeks in the al-'Amil district, in addition to the specific rumors about the involvement of the so-called "Special Groups" in the murders of ICSI and Da'wa supporters.

Again, IraqSlogger cannot confirm the rumors that are reported to be circulating in the al-'Amil area of Baghdad.

RUMOR MILL
Some Whisper That Iraqi Forces Infiltrated by Militias Hostile to Local Populace
06/13/2008 6:16 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Iraqi forces were largely unopposed when they first took up their positions in Sadr City some weeks ago as part of a cease-fire deal. Now, however, some residents of the sprawling eastern Baghdad slum express resentment towards the uniformed Iraqi forces that operate in the district.

Sources in Sadr City told IraqSlogger that complaints of heavy-handed treatment by Iraqi forces have grown more common, and that speculation is circulating among locals that the uniformed forces have been infiltrated by hostile militias.

Iraqi forces took positions in Sadr City at the end of nearly two months of open fighting between government forces, supported by US troops and airplanes, and the militia elements. The fighting started in late March as Iraqi forces in Basra launched operations that appeared to seek to reduce the power of the Mahdi Army militia in the southern city.

When the Iraq troops first moved into Sadr City in late May, they were received peaceably, and residents say that many in the local population were pleased to see the Mahdi Army stand down.

However, some in Sadr City now accuse some members of the Iraqi forces of mistreating Sadr City residents in their operations, alleging instances of random gunfire in civilian areas and arbitrary arrests.

Some in the district allege that members of the Kurdish Pesh Merga militia, loyal to the two principal Kurdish political parties, and elements of the Badr organization, widely recognized as the paramilitary wing of the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council (ISCI), have infiltrated the Iraqi forces that are operating in Sadr City.

Both the ISCI/Badr and the Pesh Merga forces have historically hostile relations with the Sadrist Current, for which support runs very strong in Sadr City.

Militia elements are known to have infiltrated the uniformed Iraqi police, but IraqSlogger cannot confirm the specific allegations of Pesh Merga and Badr involvement in abuse of civilians in Sadr City.

Video
Alive in Baghdad: Iraqis Flee Assaults, Murders Targeting Homosexuals
06/10/2008 1:22 PM ET
Video: AliveinBaghdad.org. Image: IraqSlogger.com.

With the spread of militia activity and religious extremism in Iraq after 2003, members of Iraq's marginalized gay community have suffered brutal and deadly attacks, according to international organizations and personal accounts. A UN agency went so far as to declare that Iraq's homosexuals were facing a campaign of "sexual cleansing."

Alive in Baghdad this week interviews members of Iraq's gay community living in exile in Syria, who describe the violence that they and their fellow homosexuals faced in Iraq. One interviewee tells the weekly video journal in his interview that he is recounting his story of abduction and rape at the hands of an unknown militia for the first time to anyone.

AiB introduces this week's segment, which can be viewed, as follows:

Damascus, Syria - Maybe one of the of most difficult situations that an Iraqi could be in is to be gay, the Iraqi society in general discriminate against the gay and transsexual people, normally they consider them as people who left their gender and changed for sexual want.

Even though most gay people of Iraq have managed to live their lives, being born gay is almost the same as being born with an assurance of death. Most Iraqis don’t accept that homosexuality is something you’re born with, or which is assigned by your genes. Due to the Iraqi cultural and religious beliefs, homosexuality is forbidden and considered a mortal sin, and in many cases the penalty of death is assigned as the solution for it.

Some of the Iraqi homosexuals used to live in the Karrada neighborhood, practicing there life normally but still in secret. Although before the war as well they could not show that they are gay, due to the risk of being attacked verbally by the neighbors or the people they live with.

No Iraqi organization or NGO was taking care of gay Iraqis before or after the war. Many of them were killed by the hands of militias after the war, some militias were considering killing gay people as a great thing you can do to satisfy God. Because of this many homosexuals and transsexuals tried to leave Iraq, and some managed to flee to countries with less violence against gays, or to Europe.

International organizations such as Amnesty International are working on helping the gay and lesbian Iraqi people, other Iraqis outside the country have created Iraqi organizations that are trying to help gay Iraqis like the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender), this organization used to have about 40 members in Iraq but after the attacks and raids on these groups in Najaf, Kerbala, and other areas by militias these organizations lost most of their contacts inside Iraq.

The three Iraqis now living in Syria interviewed by Alive in Baghdad are just a few people affected by prejudice and hatred aimed at gay and transsexual Iraqis and those who dare offer them assistance.

***

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