WikiLeaks: U.N. Says Iraqi Children Shot in Head
By Matthew Schofield
via Common Dreams
Setember 1, 2011
provides evidence that
Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-
month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to
destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006
incident in the central Iraqi town of
This cell phone photo was shot by a resident of Ishaqi
on March 15, 2006, of bodies Iraqi police said were of
children executed by
there. A State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks
quotes the U.N. investigator of extrajudicial killings
as saying an autopsy showed the residents of the house
had been handcuffed and shot in the head, including
children under the age of 5. McClatchy obtained the
photo from a resident when the incident occurred. | The
unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks'
website last week, contained questions from a United
Nations investigator about the incident, which had
angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind
of action from their government.
at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.
But Philip Alston, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in
a communication to American officials dated 12 days
after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies
performed in the Iraqi city of
the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head.
Among the dead were four women and five children. The
children were all 5 years old or younger.
Reached by email Wednesday, Alston said that as of 2010
- the most recent data he had -
responded to his request for information and that
the lack of response from the
case with most of the letters to the
2006-2007 period," when fighting in
Alston said he could provide no further information on
the incident. "The tragedy," he said, "is that this
elaborate system of communications is in place but the
(U.N.) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up
when states ignore issues raised with them."
The Pentagon didn't respond to a request for comment.
At the time, American military officials in
the accounts of townspeople who witnessed the events
were highly unlikely to be true, and they later said
the incident didn't warrant further investigation.
Military officials also refused to reveal which units
might have been involved in the incident.
explosion that ripped through the Golden Dome Mosque
that February had set off an orgy of violence between
rival Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Sunni insurgents,
many aligned with al Qaida in
tracts of the countryside.
Ishaqi, about 80 miles northwest of Baghdad, not far
from Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, was considered
so dangerous at the time that
had classified all roads in the area as "black,"
meaning they were likely to be booby-trapped with
The Ishaqi incident was unusual because it was brought
to the world's attention by the Joint Coordination
Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up
with American military assistance and staffed by
trained Iraqi police officers.
The original incident report was signed by an Iraqi
police colonel and made even more noteworthy because
U.S.-trained Iraqi police, including Brig. Gen. Issa al
Juboori, who led the coordination center, were willing
to speak about the investigation on the record even
though it was critical of American forces.
Throughout the early investigation,
spokesmen said that an al Qaida in
been seized from a first-floor room after a fierce
fight that had left the house he was hiding in a pile
But the diplomatic cable provides a different sequence
of events and lends credence to townspeople's claims
that American forces destroyed the house after its
residents had been shot.
Alston initially posed his questions to the
According to Alston's version of events, American
troops approached a house in Ishaqi, which Alston
refers to as "Al-Iss Haqi," that belonged to Faiz
Harrat Al-Majma'ee, whom Alston identified as a farmer.
that lasted about 25 minutes.
After the firefight ended, Alston wrote, the "troops
entered the house, handcuffed all residents and
executed all of them. After the initial MNF
house." The initials refer to the official name of the
military coalition, the Multi-National Force.
Alston said "Iraqi TV stations broadcast from the scene
and showed bodies of the victims (i.e. five children
and four women) in the morgue of Tikrit. Autopsies
carries (sic) out at the
revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and
The cable makes no mention any of the alleged shooting
suspects being found or arrested at or near the house.
The cable closely tracks what neighbors told reporters
for Knight Ridder at the time. (McClatchy purchased
Knight Ridder in spring 2006.) Those neighbors said the
firefight ensued. In addition to exchanging gunfire
with someone in the house, the American troops were
supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the
The cable also backs the original report from the Joint
house while it was still standing. That first report
noted: "The American forces gathered the family members
in one room and executed 11 persons, including five
children, four women and two men. Then they bombed the
house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."
The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf,
who was described in the document as the assistant
chief of the
The cable also backs up the claims of the doctor who
performed the autopsies, who told Knight Ridder "that
all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all
bodies were handcuffed."
The cable notes that "at least 10 persons, namely Mr.
Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay'ya Abdul
Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra'a
(aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old),
Faiz's mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz's
sister (name unknown), Faiz's nieces Asma'a Yousif
Ma'arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma'arouf
(aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad
Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid."
Schofield, an editorial writer at The
c McClatchy Newspapers 2011