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Sunnis Complain of “State Terror” in Iraq

Samir Haddad, IOL Correspondent


BAGHDAD, May 17, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – The gruesome discovery of mutilated bodies sparked fears sectarian killings in Iraq, with Sunni leaders accusing the dominant-Shiite newly-formed security forces of pursuing a policy of "state terror" against Iraq’s Sunni Arabs.

"The mass killings and the crackdown and detention campaigns in north-eastern Baghdad over the past two days by members of the Iraqi police or by an Interior Ministry special force, known as the 'Wolf Brigade’, are part of a state terror policy," Mothana Harith Al-Dari, spokesman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, (AMS) told IslamOnline.net Monday, May 16.

Up to 48 bodies were found slain and mutilated across Iraq Sunday and Monday, Fifteen of them uncovered in a Baghdad’s predominantly Sunni neighborhood after they were shot in the head.

"The bodies were of Iraqis detained by the Iraqi security forces during a crackdown operation in the neighborhood on Sunday," the AMS said in a statement.

Two of the victims, who were still alive, said the "Wolf Brigade", an interior ministry special force, was responsible for their killing.

"They arrested us and fired bullets at our heads after having our mouths muzzled and hands tied behind backs," the statement quoted the survivors as saying.

The two victims were immediately admitted to a Baghdad hospital but the Iraqi national guardsmen stormed the building and took away one of the victims to an unidentified area.

"They (Iraqi forces) are trying to hide the truth and cover up those behind the killings as they did in the city of Madaen," Dari said.

Earlier this month, a 1,500-strong Iraqi force backed by US troops stormed the Iraqi city of Madaen to rescue what they said were Shiite hostages in the city, but there was no sign of hostage-taking in the city.

Brutal Practices

The AMS spokesman also cited examples of brutal practices exercised by the Iraqi security forces against the Sunni scholars in the country.

"Sheikh Abdul Karem, a Sunni mosque imam, was subject to severe torture by the Iraqi forces to admit crimes he never committed," Dari said, quoting a Sunni mosque imam who was detained along with Sheikh Abdul Karem by the Iraqi forces but was later released.

Iraqi national guardsmen, however, denied carrying out any detention campaign in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood in the Iraqi capital.

"Iraqi national guardsmen have no connection with the detention campaigns in the area over the past two days," head of the Iraqi national guardsmen said in a message to the AMS, the highest Sunni authority in Iraq.

"The detention campaign was conducted by the 'Wolf Brigades’, which was responsible for taking the slain Iraqis to a camp in central Baghdad."

Fears

The gruesome discovery of the mutilated bodies raised fears of tit-for-tat sectarian killings between Shiites and Sunnis, prompting Shiite figures to call on their armed militiamen to avoid such acts.

"Any action targeting unarmed civilians is forbidden under any circumstances," firebrand Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr said in a rare public appearance in Najaf, Agence France Presse (AFP) said Tuesday, May 17.

"All Sunnis cannot be held responsible for the terrorist deeds of the occupiers and Nawaseb," he said, referring to what he sees as "Sunni hardliners" inspired by the Wahhabi creed dominant in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

A similar call was echoed by Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who went to the holy city of Najaf to meet the reclusive Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

"Sayyed Sistani insisted on the brotherhood between Shiites and Sunnis and the need to include our Sunni brothers in the constitution-drafting process," Jaafari told reporters.

Desecration

In another development, the AMS spokesman accused US occupation forces of desecrating the Noble Qur'an during a crackdown operation on mosques in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi.

Crosses were drawn on the Noble Books and the walls of the mosque, Dari said.

"Al-Quds Al-Sharif mosque in the city was stormed by US occupation forces and the Iraqi national guardsmen on May 14, where the faithful were denied access to perform dawn prayers," Dari said.

"The faithful filmed the grisly attack and brought it to AMS headquarters as evidence."

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, during a surprise visit to Iraq Sunday, highlighted Us concerns over sidelining Iraqi Sunnis in the political process, citing their meager representation in the committee tasked with drafting the permanent constitution.

Of 55 members, mainly Shiite and Kurds, only 2 members of the committee are Sunnis.


:: Article nr. 11813 sent on 18-may-2005 03:19 ECT

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Link: www.islamonline.org/English/News/2005-05/17/article02.shtml



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