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In Mosul, Several Attacks Targetting Females
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/30/2009 5:22 PM ET
Photo: Daniel W. Smith

BAGHDAD – Female victims have been a disturbingly common theme in recent security incidents in Mosul. In some cases, Mosul residents are under the impression that the victims were targeted because they were female.

On Thursday, unknown gunmen broke into a house in Mosul, killing a woman and her teenage daughter. It was referred to on some Iraqi television stations as a “copycat killing,” as another woman and her daughter were shot and left for dead in another Mosul break-in on Wednesday, and yet another two were killed on the previous Thursday.

Three female students were shot on Monday, again by “unknown gunmen,” in Western Mosul, as they walked from their school at the end of the day.

On Thursday, female Ninewa council member Lamia Mohammed was wounded by an IED in the al-Jamea'a neighborhood of Mosul which targeted the convoy of the council’s Health Committee. Four civilians were also wounded in the blast.

On Wednesday, according to a source in the Ninewa police, the Office of the Inspector-General of the Ninewa Interior Ministry arrested a first lieutenant in the barracks for the Fourth Regiment in northern Mosul, along with and a woman who was found with him. The woman was referred to as a “prostitute,” though this word is often flung at any woman thought to be involved in anything “immoral.” Another officer accused with being involved in bringing women into the barracks was reported to have escaped. The woman, in custody, is said the be under investigation.

Members of Iraqslogger’s network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report, but choose to remain anonymous, for security reasons.

Defamation Suit By The Iraqi National Intelligence Agency After Funding Comments
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/24/2009 00:57 AM ET
Photo: Daniel W. Smith

Head of the Iraqi National Congress and controversy magnet Ahmed Chalabi appeared in an Iraqi court on May 12. The hearing was at his own request, and was in response to a complaint made by the Iraqi National Intelligence Agency against him, claiming he had defamed the reputation of the INIA months ago, when he stated that its funding sources should be made public. Chalabi spoke of “international” backing and of the agency’s leader, General Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, as a long-time CIA operative.

It is not disputed that the CIA hand-picked Shahwani to lead the organization when it was formed after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, nor that its funding came from the United States, at least at the time. Still, it is not a matter of official record in Iraq. Chalabi has his own well-known history working with American intelligence, and in the interview below, uses some such contact to back up his claims about Shahwani (including what sounded like an insinuation that Shahwani might have been a double agent for the Muhabarat, the feared Saddam-era secret police, while on the CIA's payroll - although Chalabi expressly denies having made any such accusation).

Chalabi’s continued forcing of the issue is interesting to note, as is Shahwani’s reaction to it. Here is Chalabi’s account of what happened.

Ahmed Chalabi:
At the beginning, when I questioned their source of funding, they became upset about that, and tried to make a criminal case of it. The Iraqi legal authority said there is no basis for this – it’s a civil case. They also objected when I said that the American influence in Iraqi Intelligence was preponderant and that there was some influence on the entire staff, and that this was not healthy for the United States, nor for Iraq. What we need is an intelligence service which is competent.

So, they made this civil case, and there was a lot of back and forth between our lawyers. I found it necessary that I appear in person, so I requested to go. So, I went to the court, and gave my evidence, which was built around four issues, which were supported by, basically, public documents.

The first was an interview given by the head of the intelligence service, General Shahwani, to al-Sabah Newspaper on the 28th of March, 2006. In response to the question “Do you have any financial backing from the government of Iraq?, he basically said, “I have not signed anything because there is no budget, and we need money.” So, where was he getting the money?

The next piece of evidence was from the Iraqi budget of 2009, which was the sum of money assigned to the intelligence service – over 100 million dollars. It was reported there that the staff of the intelligence service is 5,594 employees, with details of the different levels of positions. And this is, again, a public which discusses the Iraqi budget.

The third piece of evidence was that I requested the court to, if possible, get the transcripts of the statements of some accused people who were senior members of the Muhabarat (secret police under Saddam Hussein). If they could get it, it would shed some light on relevant issues. I was told of these, but I wanted to see if they could get it. They did not.

The fourth thing introduced into evidence was the book by George Tenet (At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA 2007) in which he says that General Shahwani was introduced to the CIA in 1991, and he became key in forming networks for the agency in Iraq. It goes on to say that, unfortunately, some of the networks were exposed, and Shahwani’s three son’s were tortured and executed. Of course, there are over 35 other officers who were tortured and executed. It’s a lot of people. The issue was never investigated, but there is a great deal of evidence about this in the files of the previous intelligence service – about how information was gathered, about how double agents were used by the Muhabarat against the CIA, everything.

Tenet adds, later on, that they (the CIA) decided to form the Iraqi intelligence service, and General Shahwani was chosen to head it. He says, “We”. I also had a piece of evidence on that from my own meetings with the chief of station at the CIA. In March of 2004, he came to visit me, and said, “We are forming the Iraqi intelligence service, and we have chosen Shahwani to head it,” so I am personally familiar with that.

So, this is the evidence I gave to the court, and I also added that it is not slander or anything to be concerned about that Iraqi security agencies receive funding or assistance from the United States, because the Army and the police have received aid in excess of eight billion dollars. This is well known and public, and nobody takes them to task for it.

Why is there concern that there is any kind of implied funding? We need this service. It is the forefront in the battle against terrorism, against infiltrations, against suicide bombings. However, it is important that it is also in accordance with the democratic principals that we are working with, and that it should comply with its charter. My question is this: Is there something behind the secrecy? Is there some concern that operant things were done which would be in violation of Iraqi law and US law? I don’t know, but it is legitimate to ask.

In light of the charges of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” – did they happen in Iraq, too? We should know.

It is very strange that there is this fantastic, this phantasmagoric reaction to a simple inquiry. I think it would be worthwhile to look into this.

Members of Family Hang Woman and Turn Themselves In, Expecting Little Punishment
05/02/2009 01:43 AM ET
Google Earth image/Iraqslogger

BAGHDAD – This week in Sadr City’s Gayara district, two family members of 27 year old Nadia Ahmad hung her with a rope. The motive was “to protect their family’s honor,” according to a source within Sadr City.

So-called “honor killings” can occur when a female is accused of having a boyfriend, engaging in prostitution, or being the victim of sexual assault, thus shaming her family’s name. In Iraq, mere rumors of a relationship with a male can lead to the label of prostitute, and her death. The same does not happen to males.

Two male family members are now reportedly in police custody for the killing. According to the source (who is familiar with the family), they were not arrested, but turned themselves in, expecting leniency. Honor killings are often looked at by law enforcement officials as family matters. Even if there are strong laws against the practice, perpetrators are sometimes given very short prison sentences, or must simply promise not to do it again.

The family’s reason for deciding that Nadia Ahmad had brought shame to them was unknown. Her mother was said to have been arrested five months ago for alleged involvement in a kidnapping.

Members of Iraqslogger’s network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report, but choose to remain anonymous, for security reasons.
Everybody Gets Blamed For the Bombings, A Secret "Al-Baghdadi" Strategy?
04/25/2009 7:14 PM ET
Photo: Daniel W. Smith

Rumors tend to follow big current events, and so this week it is no surprise that the deadly bombings of Thursday and Friday are at the center of much speculation. The Iraqi government’s claims of capturing Islamic State of Iraq leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi are also addressed.

Suicide Bombings
Anyone who’s anyone is being claimed as the culprit for the bombings which have taken such a terrible toll in dead and wounded. The return to large-scale bombings which are evidently engineered for maximum casualties are causing warnings around the city to stay away from large crowds of people, for fear that they will be targeted in the next big bomb.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Baathists have clear enough motives. The concept that the United States might be doing whatever it can to pave the way for extensions on the dates outlined in the security pact is not unpopular, nor is the idea that Iran is doing it, for any number of reasons. “Highly trained Iranian militias” crossing over the border have been talked about by many, some who’ve claimed to have witnessed their activity. Some Iraqi Shi’a have complained of Iranian pilgrims being treated better than them at religious shrines, in particular at al-Kadhimiya’s Imam Moussa al-Kadhim Shrine, the site of Friday’s twin bombing. Iranian pilgrims were let in without being properly searched, or searched at all, said some witnesses, of course fueling the idea of Iranian involvement.

The Badr militia and really almost all other political parties are also seen to possibly be behind the attacks, in an attempt to tarnish Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s reputation as the bringer of order, after the State of Law’s sweeping of the provincial election.

The capture of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, is seen by many to be a rumor itself. Aside from the motive of making the Iraqi security forces look like they’re making headway, another strategy has been talked about – that he has not in fact been captured, and that the Iraqi and US forces are purposefully putting his false capture in the news to cause him to dispute it, possibly giving away his location.

Member of Religious Minority Singled out for "Tax" Killed In Kidnapping Attempt
By DANIEL W. SMITH 04/25/2009 6:24 PM ET
The Symbol on the Front of a Sabian Religious Building in Baghdad
Photo: Yousif al-Timimi
The Symbol on the Front of a Sabian Religious Building in Baghdad

BAGHDAD - Another goldsmith who was part of Iraq’s Sabian religious minority was killed on Saturday, during a kidnapping attempt. According to a friend of his, he had been threatened many times, and ordered to pay large sums of money as a “tax” for being Sabian. He was killed in his shop in al-Sha’ab.

Seven jewelers were slain in Baghdad’s Tobji neighborhood on April 19, in an organized daylight heist, where silencers were used in multiple locations. Three of those killed, and other wounded, were Sabian, who are often goldworkers.

Security spokesman Gen. Qassim Atta and Baghdad Operational Command have spoken quite a bit in past days about their success in arresting four suspects in the killings, and then on Thursday, the alleged mastermind. Atta and other government officials have also been very quick to state that the crime was one of violent theft only, and that the victims were not at all targeted for sectarian reasons. Sabian leaders too, have shied away from attributing such motives. Adil Hameed Khdair, brother to one of those killed, told Iraqslogger on Saturday that "We are concerned that this case might be politicized, as with the Christians' case. This might harm us, and create a wave of more attacks against us.” In the sectarian violence of recent years there were many attacks on Sabians, and much of the population was displaced as a result.

The events on April 19 are debatable, but there seems to be less doubt in the case of Samir al-Othmani, the Sabian goldsmith who was killed on Saturday, according to a friend of his who spoke to Iraqslogger. The friend, also a member of the Sabian community and a goldsmith, chose to remain anonymous for fear of violent reprisal. He said that the Sabian goldsmiths are commonly threatened, and extortion is often demanded of them.

Othmani was reportedly threatened, and told that he had to “pay a tax for not being a Muslim,” an apparent reference to a tax called the "jizyah", applied to non-Muslims during the Ottoman Empire (despite its obvious historic non-parallels). Sabians were, along with Christians and Jews, people “of the book” and therefore protected under early Islam. The reference struck the friend, also the recipient of similar ones, as a simple excuse to steal.

According to the friend, Othmani closed his shop out of fear, but acquaintances (including the man to whom we spoke) convinced him to reopen, sure that the threats would not be carried out. On Sunday at noon, he re-opened his doors. Within a few hours, what is thought to be a kidnapping attempt occurred, and Othmani was killed in the process.

Members of Iraqslogger’s network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report, but choose to remain anonymous, for security reasons.

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