Saturday, July 17, 2004

Did Iraq's New PM Murder Prisoners?

The Sydney Daily Herald reports

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and
executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police
station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to
his interim government, according to two people who allege they
witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up
against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell
block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in
the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The witnesses said the Iraqi police observers were "shocked and
surprised". But asked what message they might take from such an act,
one said: "Any terrorists in Iraq should have the same destiny. This is
the new Iraq.

"Allawi wanted to send a message to his policemen and soldiers not
to be scared if they kill anyone - especially, they are not to worry
about tribal revenge. He said there would be an order from him and the
Interior Ministry that all would be fully protected.

"He told them: 'We must destroy anyone who wants to destroy Iraq and kill our people.'

Juan Cole takes the story seriously. Given what Seymour Hersch has written abut Allawi's political history, the story in not implausible.

a Baath Party operative while Saddam struggled for control in the
nineteen-sixties and seventies—Saddam became President in 1979—is much
less well known. “Allawi helped Saddam get to power,” an American
intelligence officer told me. “He was a very effective operator and a
true believer.” Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former C.I.A. case officer who
served in the Middle East, added, “Two facts stand out about Allawi.
One, he likes to think of himself as a man of ideas; and, two, his
strongest virtue is that he’s a thug.”

Early this year, one of Allawi’s former medical-school classmates,
Dr. Haifa al-Azawi, published an essay in an Arabic newspaper in London
raising questions about his character and his medical bona fides. She
depicted Allawi as a “big husky man . . . who carried a gun on his belt
and frequently brandished it, terrorizing the medical students.”
Allawi’s medical degree, she wrote, “was conferred upon him by the
Baath party.” Allawi moved to London in 1971, ostensibly to continue
his medical education; there he was in charge of the European
operations of the Baath Party organization and the local activities of
the Mukhabarat, its intelligence agency, until 1975.

“If you’re asking me if Allawi has blood on his hands from his days
in London, the answer is yes, he does,” Vincent Cannistraro, the former
C.I.A. officer, said. “He was a paid Mukhabarat agent for the Iraqis,
and he was involved in dirty stuff.” A cabinet-level Middle East
diplomat, who was rankled by the U.S. indifference to Allawi’s personal
history, told me early this month that Allawi was involved with a
Mukhabarat “hit team” that sought out and killed Baath Party dissenters
throughout Europe

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