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Bush's Shiite Gang in Baghdad

Robert Dreyfuss

December 13, 2005

More and more evidence is mounting that Iran’s ayatollahs have their hands deep into the Shiite-led government of

Iraq. Astonishingly though, the Bush administration – and its allied phalanx of neoconservatives – have turned a blind eye to Iran’s influence in Iraq. That’s because the Iraqi Shiites, who run the regime in Baghdad, are supposed to be the "good guys," i.e., the ones we are defending in Iraq. As I’ve written before, the United States has 160,000 troops in Iraq serving as the Praetorian guard for that Shiite regime. We’re killing hundreds of Sunnis all over western Iraq on their behalf.

Before we get to the latest reports of more torture prisons run by the Shiites, along with death squads, consider the following items from the news.

Knight Ridder, perhaps the single best news organization covering the war in Iraq and its political fallout, carried an important exchange in which the head of the Badr Brigade, the paramilitary force backed by

Iran, flatly admits that his 20,000-strong secret army – which is the arm of the ruling Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) – is funded by Iran:

politician Ayad Allawi. "Allawi receives money from America, from the

CIA, but nobody talks about that. All they talk about is our funding from Iran," he said, raising his voice. "We are funded by some (Persian) Gulf countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran. We don't hide it."

And the report, by Tom Lasseter, includes this bombshell from General Casey:

"They're putting millions of dollars into the south to influence the elections ... it's funded primarily through their charity organizations and also Badr and some of these political parties," said Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. general in Iraq. "A lot of their guys (Badr) are going into the police and military."
In another breakthrough report, today’s Washington Times carries an interview with a leading former Iraqi general who says that the network of torture prisons run by SCIRI, Badr, and the Iraqi interior ministry is overseen by an Iranian intelligence officer, Tahseer Nasr Lawandi, nicknamed "The Engineer." Here’s the report, but read the whole thing:

An Iraqi general formerly in charge of special Interior Ministry forces said yesterday that a senior Iranian intelligence officer was in charge of a network of detention centers where suspected insurgents were routinely tortured and sometimes killed. Gen. al-Samarrai said the Iranian intelligence officer, Tahseer Nasr Lawandi, works directly under the Kurdish deputy minister, Gen. Hussein Kamel, and is known throughout the ministry as "The Engineer."

"The Engineer was behind the torturing and killing in the ministry and was also in charge of Jadriya prison," said Gen. al-Samarrai, who left the ministry after a dispute with superiors and is now living in Jordan.

The Iranian officer not only masterminded interrogations, tortures and executions at the prisons, but also would take part in torture sessions, often using an electric drill, Gen. al-Samarrai said.

Some of the tortured prisoners were found in morgues with drill holes in their legs and eyes, according to another security source, who declined to be identified.

The general said Mr. Lawandi had worked with the minister and deputy minister to form a special security service to run the detention and interrogation operation and a separate group called the Wolf Brigade to capture suspects and bring them to the secret locations -- usually under cover of darkness.

This is critically important stuff, because it utterly destroys the Bush administration’s contention that the United States is building "democracy" in Iraq.

Today’s New York Times has a story about the torture prisons, noting that a senior Iraqi interior ministry official denies that any abuse occurred, and it then quotes U.S. military officials contradicting him.

So the question is: when will hear the Bush administration's top officials start calling the Shiite fundamentalist regime in Baghdad "Islamofascists"? So far, they's applied that term only to the Iraqi resistance, tarring the Sunni-led insurgency by painting them as led by Al Qaeda-style terrorists, when in fact that they are mostly Iraqi nationalists, Baathists, and ex-military men. Their main grievance is that the United States is handing Iraq over to Iran. I'd say they're right.


:: Article nr. 18663 sent on 13-dec-2005 19:49 ECT

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