Friday, September 2, 2011

WikiLeaks: U.N. Says Iraqi Children Shot in Head

WikiLeaks: U.N. Says Iraqi Children Shot in Head


By Matthew Schofield

McClatchy Newspapers

via Common Dreams

Setember 1, 2011


A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks

provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10

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 Ishaqi.


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 U.S. troops after a night raid

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. U.S. officials denied

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 Tikrit showed that all

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 - U.S. officials hadn't

responded to his request for information and that

Iraq's government also hadn't been forthcoming. He said

the lack of response from the United States "was the

case with most of the letters to the U.S. in the

2006-2007 period," when fighting in Iraq peaked.


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 Iraq said

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.


Iraq was fast descending into chaos in early 2006. An

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 Iraq, controlled large

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 U.S. military officials

had classified all roads in the area as "black,"

meaning they were likely to be booby-trapped with

roadside bombs.


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 U.S.-

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, U.S. military

spokesmen said that an al Qaida in Iraq suspect had

been seized from a first-floor room after a fierce

fight that had left the house he was hiding in a pile

of rubble.


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 U.S.

Embassy in Geneva, which passed them to Washington in

the cable.


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.

The U.S. troops were met with gunfire, Alston said,

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

intervention, a U.S. air raid ensued that destroyed the

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 Tikrit Hospital's morgue

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

U.S. troops had approached the house at 2:30 a.m. and a

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

Coordination Center, which said U.S. forces entered the

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 Joint Coordination Center.


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 Kansas City

Star, was Berlin bureau chief and was on temporary

assignment in Iraq at the time of the Ishaqi incident.


c McClatchy Newspapers 2011


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