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01 Sep

Iraqi Children in US Raid Shot in Head, UN Says

The McGlynn: The Truth will out.

Thursday 1 September 2011

by: Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Newspapers | Report

dead children in ishaqi iraq 

The MNF troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them.

  
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. Here, the bodies of the five children are wrapped in blankets and laid in a pickup bed to be taken for burial. 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 handcuffed.”

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 house.

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.)

Read the Cable:

id: 59146 date: 4/3/2006 14:48 refid: 06GENEVA763 origin: US Mission Geneva classification: UNCLASSIFIED destination: 06USMISSIONGENEVA2006 header: R 031448Z APR 06 FM USMISSION GENEVA TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9047 USMISSION USUN NEW YORK —————– header ends —————UNCLAS GENEVA 000763 STATE FOR IO/RHS, DRL/MLA, L/HRR E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PHUM, UNHRC-1 SUBJECT: COMMUNICATION FROM SRS ON ESA EXECUTIONS REGARDING AN MNF RAID IN IRAQ ON MARCH 15, 2006 1. Mission received a communication from Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, regarding a raid conducted by Multinational Forces on March 15, 2006 at the house of Faiz Harrat AlMajma’ee in Iraq. This communication has been sent via email to IO/RHS. This communication is number 8 on the Geneva 2006 Communications Log. 2. Begin text of letter: 27 March 2006 REFERENCE: AL G/SO 214 (33-23) USA 6/2006 Excellency, I have the honour to address you in my capacity as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2004/37. I would like to draw the attention of your Government to information I have received regarding a raid conducted by the Multinational Forces (MNF) on 15 March 2006 in the house of Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee, a farmer living in the outskirts of Al-Iss Haqi District in Balad (Salah-El-Din Governorate). I have received various reports indicating 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. According to the information received, American troops approached Mr. Faiz’s home in the early hours of 15 March 2006. It would appear that when the MNF approached the house, shots were fired from it and a confrontation ensued for some 25 minutes. The MNF troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. After the initial MNF intervention, a US air raid ensued that destroyed the house. 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 out at the Tikrit Hospital’s morgue revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed. I am aware that the MNF confirmed that an air raid took place that day in Balad and that it caused an unconfirmed number of casualties. The US military attacked the house to capture members of Mr. Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee’s family on the basis that they were allegedly involved in the killing of two MNF soldiers who were killed between 6 to 11 March 2006 in the Al Haweeja area. The US military was further reported in the media as stating that MNF troops attacked the house in question to capture “a foreign fighter facilitator for the Al Qaeda in Iraq network”. Other reports indicate that over the past five months, there have been a significant number of lethal incidents in which the MNF is alleged to have used excessive force to respond to perceived threats either at checkpoints or by using air bombing in civilian areas. In drawing the attention of your Excellency’s Government to this information and seeking clarification thereof, I am fully aware of the stance taken by your Government in correspondence with me regarding the mandate’s competence regarding killings that are said to have occurred within the context of an armed conflict (I refer to your Government’s letters dated 22 April 2003 and 8 April 2004). As explained in my report to the 61st Commission on Human Rights, as well as in letters to your Excellency’s Government of 26 August 2005 and 7 March 2006, however, not only the relevant formulation of the mandate but also the General Assembly in its resolutions and the now longstanding practice of the independent experts successively holding the mandate since its creation in 1982 make it clear that questions of humanitarian law fall squarely within the Special Rapporteur’s mandate (See E/CN.4/2005/7, at par. 45). I would also recall that the Human Rights Committee has held that a State party can be held responsible for violations of rights under the Covenant where the violations are perpetrated by authorized agents of the State on foreign territory, “whether with the acquiescence of the Government of [the foreign State] or in opposition to it”. (See Lopez v. Uruguay, communication No.52/1979, CCPR/C/OP/1 at 88 (1984), paras. 12.1-12.3.) Finally, I wish to remind you that UN GA Resolution 59/191 of 10 March 2005, in its paragraph 1, stresses that “States must ensure that any measure to combat terrorism complies with their obligation under international law, in particular international human right, refugee and humanitarian law”. Without in any way wishing to pre-judge the accuracy of the information received, I would be grateful for a reply to the following questions: 1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate? On what basis was it decided to kill, rather than capture, members of Mr. Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee’s family. 2. What rules of international law does your Excellency’s Government consider to govern these incidents? If your Excellency’s Government considers the incidents to have been governed by humanitarian law, please clarify which treaty instruments or customary norms are considered to apply. 3. What procedural safeguards, if any, were employed to ensure that these killings complied with international law? 4. Does your Excellency’s Government intend to provide compensation to Mr. Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee’s relatives. It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to clarify all such cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations. I undertake to ensure that your Government’s response is accurately reflected in the reports I will submit to the Human Rights Council for its consideration. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration, Philip Alston Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions End text of letter. MOLEYCable: Massacre of Iraqi Family by US Troops in 2006

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