Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Update on the Battle of Najaf/Kufa Farms area January 28 2007: Ten now reported sentenced to death

Back on January 28, 2007 there occurred one of the biggest battles of the post-invasion phase of the Iraq War. Hundreds of civilians were reported killed and hundreds more civilians reported captured after significant ground and air activities in the area.

I was reading the still messy and not-well-organized wiki page on The Battle of Najaf and found an interesting update:

10 Iraqi cult members sentenced to death
Middle East Times/September 2, 2007

Najaf, Iraq — Ten members of an Iraqi doomsday cult were sentenced to death Sunday, and 394 jailed for their roles in a January rebellion against Iraqi and US troops that left hundreds dead, police said.

“The criminal court passed judgement on 458 accused,” Najaf police chief Brigadier General Abdel Karim Mustapha said.

“It sentenced 10 leaders of the Soldiers of Heaven to death, and decided to release 54 of them,” he said. “The rest were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 15 years to life.”

In January, the militant sect, dubbing itself the Jund Al Samaa or “Soldiers of Heaven,” clashed with US and Iraqi forces outside the holy city of Najaf, three days ahead of the Shiite Ashura festival.

The fighting left 263 sect followers dead, including their messianic leader Dhia Abdel Zahra Kadhim Al Krimawi, also known as Abu Kamar, who believed himself to be a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Iraqi security forces reportedly lost three soldiers and three policemen.

After the battle, police rounded up hundreds of sect members and put them on trial.

“With today’s sentencing, the curtain has fallen on the Soldiers of Heaven group,” Mustapha said.

Abu Kamar has also claimed to be a descendant of the Imam Mehdi, an 8th-century imam who vanished as a boy and, who, Shiites believe, will return to bring justice to the world.

At the time of the attack, Najaf deputy governor Abdel Hussein Attan said that the well-structured group planned to attack senior Shiite clerics and seize control of religious sites in Najaf, in a sign the Mehdi was about to reappear.

According to wikipedia (currently) the Middle East Times parent company is owned by the Unification Church. Can anyone confirm, add to or refute the accuracy of this MET report?

See also: Scanlyze tag Najaf

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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24 September, 2007 Posted by | Abdel Hussein Attan, Abu Kamar, Ashura, bombing, casualties, civilian, cults, Dhia Abdel Zahra Kadhim Al Krimawi, Iraq, Islam, Jund al Samaa, killing, Kufa, Mahdi, massacre, Mehdi, Middle East Times, Najaf, news, peace, politics, POW, prisoners of war, scanlyze, Soldiers of heaven, Sun Myung Moon, Unification Church, USA, war, war crimes | 1 Comment

More testimony on the Haditha massacre and discussion of a soldiers duty to the dead

Haditha massacre.jpg From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Haditha Killings (wikipedia)

The New York Times has an excellent article today (May 31, 2007) describing testimony regarding eight American soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines accused of unlawfully killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. It isn’t entirely clear from the news articles but I surmise that these were Article 32 proceedings.

The article, 2 Marines Deny Suspecting Haditha War Crime, by Paul Von Zielbaur, details testimony by two First Lieutenants which was just made public. The recently released testimony is from First Lt. Alexander Martin and First Lt. Max D. Frank.

Lt. Martin testified that the killings in Haditha had made the civilian population more cooperative:

After 19 November, I had people coming up to me to tell me where the I.E.D.’s [land mines] were.

Lt. Frank testified about the activities of the detail which policed the scene. According to the Times report:

Lieutenant Frank told a Marine prosecutor that each of the eight bodies he found on the bed had “multiple holes” in it, and that one child’s head was missing. But Lieutenant Frank repeatedly said in his testimony that he had never considered the possibility that a war-crime violation had occurred, the legal threshold under Marine Corps regulations that compels an episode to be reported to a superior officer…

The marines had only four or five body bags at the base and used them to collect the largest of the dead civilians, said Lieutenant Frank. The children’s remains were placed in trash bags, he said. When the marines’ four-Humvee convoy carrying the bodies arrived at a local hospital morgue that evening, Iraqi workers reacted in horror and some vomited at the sight, he testified.

An investigation of the killings by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell in 2006 found, “Statements made by the chain of command during interviews for this investigation, taken as a whole, suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the Marines need to get ‘the job done’ no matter what it takes. These comments had the potential to desensitize the Marines to concern for the Iraqi populace and portray them all as the enemy even if they are noncombatants… The lessons for staff procedures and reporting are basic, but the case study will illustrate how simple failures can lead to disastrous results,” according to the Washington Post.

An interesting and comprehensive article from the July 1996 Army Lawyer examined the question of what obligations US troops have toward the dead, whether or not collected on the field of battle. The publication is citable as Army pamphlet 27-50-284:

The Third Priority: The Battlefield Dead
Lieutenant Colonel H. Wayne Elliott,
Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United Stares Army (Retired)

…The general obligation to the wounded is that
they be promptly treated without regard to their nationality. This
article examines the narrower issue of the duty a belligerent owes
to those who are beyond treatment-the dead. What obligations
exist regarding the dead? Must they be buried? If so, under
what conditions? Are the dead to be protected? If so, from what?
What of the property of the dead? What criminal sanctions apply
to maltreatment of the dead and their property? …

Article 15 expands the duty set out in the 1929 Geneva Convention.
The obligation under the 1949 Geneva Convention applies
“at all times” and is imposed on all parties, not just the force
left in control of the battlefield. …

The official Red Cross Commentary to the Convention,
which provides explanation and interpretation of the
treaty, describes the obligation to search for and protect the wounded
and dead as a “bounden duty, which must be fulfilled as soon as
circumstances permit.” However, this seems to be a slight overstatement
as the actual obligation to the dead is different from
that to the wounded. The obligation regarding the dead is to search
for them and to “prevent their being despoiled.” The requirement
is to collect the wounded and sick, but only to search for the dead.
Again, however, the Red Cross Commentary expands the obligation:

The dead must also be looked for and brought
back behind the lines with as much care as the
wounded. It is not always certain that death
has taken place. It is, moreover, essential that
the dead bodies should be identified and given
a decent burial. When a man has been hit with
such violence that there is nothing left of him
but scattered remains, these must be carefully
collected…

In October 1967, General Westmoreland, United
States Commander in Vietnam, described the practice of cutting
ears and fingers off the dead as “subhuman” and “contrary to all
policy and below the minimum standards of human decency.”

In the primary army manual on the law of war during the Vietnam
War, which still applies today, the “maltreatment of dead bodies”
is described as an act “representative of violations of the law of
war (war crimes)”…

Where the corpse is actually mutilated, the accused, if charged
under the UCMJ, might be charged only with “conduct prejudicial
to good order and discipline” (Article 134, UCMJ) or with a
violation of any standing orders against such conduct (Article 92,
UCMJ). Either of these two charges seems less than appropriate
given the severity, and depravity, of the offense. Therefore, in the
opinion of this author, one who mutilates a corpse should be
charged, and again would be more appropriately charged, with a
direct violation of the law of war. The United States policy of
charging United States soldiers with violating the UCMJ rather
than the law of war simply stands in the way of appropriate punishment
where mutilation of a corpse is alleged.

War leads to death and destruction. Those who give their
lives in warfare deserve respect, even from their adversaries on
the battlefield. The law and human decency permit no less. The
inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington
Cemetery provides the raison d’etre for protecting and honorably
treating the dead: “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American
Soldier, Known But to God.”

So we must pose the question: Would collecting the bodies and dismembered body parts of the children in garbage bags and delivering them in this condition to an Iraqi hospital constitute appropriate treatment of the dead under the laws of war? To say nothing of course of blowing the children and their mother to bits with grenades and M4’s or M16’s as they cowered in their bedroom in the first place.

Here is a list of casualties of the Haditha massacre from United for Peace and Justice via wikipedia:

Deaths & injuries in the massacre

House #1 — 7 killed, 2 injured (but survived), 2 escaped
1. Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 76 — grandfather, father and husband. Died with nine rounds in the chest and abdomen.
2. Khamisa Tuma Ali, 66 — wife of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali
3. Rashid Abdul Hamid, 30.
4. Walid Abdul Hamid Hassan, 35.
5. Jahid Abdul Hamid Hassan, middle-aged man.
6. Asma Salman Rasif, 32.
7. Abdullah Walid, 4.
Injured: Iman, 8, and Abdul Rahman, 5.
Escaped: Daughter-in-law, Hibbah, escaped with 2-month-old Asia

House #2 — 8 killed, 1 survivor: Shot at close range and attacked with grenades
8. Younis Salim Khafif, 43 — husband of Aeda Yasin Ahmed, father.
9. Aeda Yasin Ahmed, 41 — wife of Younis Salim Khafif, killed trying to shield her youngest daughter Aisha.
10. Muhammad Younis Salim, 8 — son.
11. Noor Younis Salim, 14 — daughter.
12. Sabaa Younis Salim, 10 — daughter.
13. Zainab Younis Salim, 5 — daughter.
14. Aisha Younis Salim, 3 — daughter.
15. A 1-year-old girl staying with the family.
Survived: Safa Younis Salim, 13.

House #3 — 4 brothers killed
16. Jamal Ahmed, 41.
17. Marwan Ahmed, 28.
18. Qahtan Ahmed, 24.
19. Chasib Ahmed, 27.

Taxi — 5 killed: Passengers were students at the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah
20. Ahmed Khidher, taxi driver.
21. Akram Hamid Flayeh.
22. Khalid Ayada al-Zawi.
23. Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi.
24. Mohammed Battal Mahmoud.

See also keyword Najaf on Scanlyze.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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1 June, 2007 Posted by | 1st Marines, Alexander Martin, Army Lawyer, Eldon Bargewell, Geneva Convention, H. Wayne Elliott, Haditha, Hague Convention, Iraq, law, law of war, massacre, Max Frank, military law, New York Times, news, Paul Von Zielbaur, politics, Red Cross, repression, UCMJ, United for Peace and Justice, war, war crime, war crimes, Washington Post | Leave a comment

Najaf Update: February 21, 2007

Interesting press release from the Multinational Forces in Iraq regarding Hilla, a town near An-Najaf, and the continuing suppression of heterodox Shia in the area. We must ask once again, what happened to the approximately 200 women and children captured near Najaf and Kufa in the “Battle of Najaf” on Jan 28, 2007?

Hilla SWAT captures 21 insurgent leaders
Saturday, 17 February 2007
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASE No. 20070217-05
Feb. 17, 2007

Hilla SWAT captures 21 insurgent leaders
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics Team members of Hilla SWAT arrested 21 suspected insurgent leaders during operations with Coalition advisers Feb. 16 southwest of Hilla. The suspects are believed to be Mahdawiyah leaders who are threatening the lives of Iraqi Security Forces and civilians in the area.

The Mahdawiyah group was involved in the battle against Iraqi Forces Jan. 28 in Najaf. Since the battle, the Mahdawiyah leadership has made death threats to Hilla SWAT policemen and their family members.

There were Iraqi arrest warrants for all the suspects. Hilla SWAT also detained 13 additional persons for questioning.

The operation by Hilla SWAT resulted in minimal damage to the objective. There were no Iraqi civilian, Iraqi forces or Coalition Forces casualties.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT MULTI-NATIONAL CORPS – IRAQ, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE BY E-MAIL AT MNCI-PAO-VICTORYMAINJOC@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MIL

See also: Keyword ‘Najaf’ on scanlyze

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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22 February, 2007 Posted by | America, Army, detention, human rights, international law, Iraq, Islam, massacre, media, MNF, Najaf, national security, news, peace, politics, prisoners, propaganda, repression, scanlyze, war, war crimes | Leave a comment

Najaf Update: February 9, 2007

According to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram, there is a claim by an Iraqi parliamentarian that as many as 1,500 people may have been killed in last week’s fighting near An-Najaf. The nature of the groups engaged there and their leadership remains a matter of uncertainty.

Tales of the hidden imam

by Nermeen Al-Mufti
Al-Ahram

According to independent parliamentarian Mohammad Al-Deini, Iranian agents are trying to distract attention from killings in Najaf. According to Al-Deini, the Iraqi army, backed by US forces, shelled an Arab tribal convoy as it was proceeding to Najaf to participate in Imam Al-Husein celebrations. Most of the victims were from Al-Hawatemah tribe, a Shia clan known to oppose Iranian intervention in Iraq. Al-Deini believes that the hidden imam story was a cover-up for a far more gruesome affair. Up to 1,500 people may have been killed in Najaf, he added.

News agencies have conducted interviews with eyewitnesses from Al-Hawatemah tribe. The eyewitnesses confirmed that their clan is Shia-Arab. Clashes, eyewitnesses said, began when the car transporting the clan’s chief and his wife approached a checkpoint ahead of Najaf on the festival of Ashura. The chief was about to explain to the soldiers manning the checkpoints that the authorities had approved their trip, but before he had the chance to make his point shots were fired. The chief, identified as Sheikh Saad Al-Nayif, his wife and his driver were killed. The rest of the clan, who were armed with machineguns for protection, had no option but to return the fire, the eyewitnesses said.

A source from Jund Al-Samaa said that the group was a peaceful one and took no part in the fighting. But an official source claimed that Jund Al-Samaa was an “ungodly” group and with a leader who managed to convince poor and uneducated young men that he was the hidden imam. The leader had given the young men his book, Qadi Al-Samaa (The Judge of Heavens), in which he claims that one of the signs of the appearance of the hidden imam was the killing of top religious scholars. Reporters in south Iraq cited members of impoverished families as confirming that their sons were members of Jund Al-Samaa and had gone to Zarka before the clashes broke out.

Jund Al-Samaa (wikipedia)

See also: Keyword ‘Najaf’ on scanlyze

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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9 February, 2007 Posted by | Air Force, Army, Bush, covert operations, Iraq, massacre, media, memory hole, Middle East, military, Najaf, news, peace, politics, USA, war, war crimes, weird | Leave a comment

Najaf Update: February 7, 2007

Still more sceptical reporting on the Najaf Incident. Conn Hallinan of Foreign Policy In Focus sees the way the story is being positioned as part of the run-up to a possible US attack on Iran.

The Najaf Massacre: Annotated

Foreign Policy In Focus

Conn Hallinan | February 7, 2007

Times Unrepentant

Despite the IPS, Independent, and Arab media reports, The New York Times continues to report that the battle was with a “renegade militia.” More than a week after the incident, a Times editorial chastised the Iraqi Army for allowing “hundreds of armed zealots” to set up “a fortified encampment, complete with tunnels, trenches, blockades, 40 heavy machine guns and at least two antiaircraft weapons.” The editorial went on to suggest that “a successful attack on top clerics and pilgrims in Najaf would have been disastrous.”

The details on the camp, the weapons, and the charge that Najaf was the target are straight from Iraqi government sources.

The way the U.S. media has reported the “battle” of Zarqa is a virtual replay of the kind of reporting that characterized the run-up to the Iraq War. The media seems to be taking a chillingly similar tack in its reporting about “Iranian interference” in Iraq. For instance, a recent story in The New York Times reports that Iran may have been involved in the recent kidnapping and murder of five Americans. But the story presents nothing but a series of unnamed sources and speculations.

The Bush administration allegations that Iran has set up insurgent training camps and built anti-personnel bombs that have killed and maimed U.S. soldiers have been routinely reported on all the major networks and daily newspapers with virtually no dissenting voices or questions raised concerning the motives of sources.

Such reporting paves the road to war. Will its next victim be Iran?

Chris Floyd underlines the role of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) in shaping the “official story” now making the rounds in The New York Times and other US publications.

Ersatz Apocalypto: Slaughter and Spin in the Battle for Najaf

Atlantic Free Press

Wednesday, 07 February 2007
by Chris Floyd

SCIRI members, buttressed by the Najaf provincial government, which they control, said that more than 1,000 terrorists were killed in the battle, and that some 200 “brainwashed women and children” were detained and “removed to another place,” presumably for deprogramming. SCIRI officials differed on the number of terrorists captured in the battle; one said 50, another said 16, yet another said “hundreds” were detained. It was SCIRI that advanced the notion that the attack aimed to kill the clerics, not capture them. Various SCIRI officials said the cult’s leader was a) the aforesaid unnamed Lebanese national; b) Dhiaa’ Abdul Zahra Kadhim, as in the Sadrist account; c) a renegade Sadrist named Ahmed Kadhim Al-Gar’awi Al-Basri ; d) another renegade Sadrist named Ahmed Hassan al-Yamani; e) a self-proclaimed messiah named Ali bin Ali bin Abi Talib.

A SCIRI member of the Najaf governing council also claimed that “the leader of this group had links with the former regime elements since 1993. Some of the gunmen brought their families with them in order to make it easier to enter the city,” Associated Press reports. An Iraqi army officer, sectarian affiliation unknown, added that Lebanese, Egyptians and Sudanese were taken prisoner in the battle – though none of these foreign fighters have yet been produced. And just for good measure, Najaf’s SCIRI governor, As’ad Abu Gilel, said the attackers were Sunni insurgents, planning to attack Shiite pilgrims on their way to mark the festival of Ashura in Najaf.

U.S. military officials originally picked various items from this dizzying smorgasbord of spin in cobbling together their own version of the battle, although in general they hewed more closely to the SCIRI line. But that’s not surprising, given the fact that this violent, extremist Shiite faction, whose death-dealing militia is deeply embedded in the Iraqi security forces, is currently in high favor with the Bush White House.

However, by mid-week, the Pentagon suddenly reversed course and came out with a whole new account, one cited by Bush himself, as the Washington Post reported. Now the battle was depicted as an exemplary pre-emptive strike by an “aggressive” and “impressive” Iraqi military, acting on good intelligence that the cult intended to storm Najaf and kill the leading clerics because they refused to recognize the claim of the cult’s leader (now known as Samer Abu Kamar, by the way) to be the Mahdi.

Nidhal Laithi of Azzaman says that members of the Iraq Parliament have called for a special tribunal similar to that which prosecuted former Iraqi President Saddam al-Tikriti to investigate the Najaf Incident. The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliment, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, condemned what he called a “massacre”.

The Najaf ‘massacre’ divides country

By Nidhal Laithi

Azzaman, February 6, 2007

Some members of parliament in a session on Monday requested the formation of a tribunal to look into the bloody incident.

Some legislators urged the parliament to form a tribunal like the one which sentenced former leader Saddam Hussein and two of his senior aides to death for the killing of 148 people from Dujail.

The government has said it mobilized troops to quell what it called a rebellion north of Najaf and asked U.S. military assistance to defeat the rebels.

But parliamentary speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, said that he received letters from tribal leaders in the south refuting the government version of events.

Mashhadani called the battle ‘a massacre’, accusing the government of hiding the truth of what exactly happened in Najaf.

BBS gives casualty totals according to the Iraqi government:

Bloody Najaf Battle Could Mark Turning Point

BBS

Sunday, February 04 2007 @ 01:18 PM EST

IRAQ: Southern Iraq in danger of slipping into chaos

Ambiguity still surrounds events of the battle that pitted Iraqi and US forces on one side against a previously unknown Shi’ite messianic cult called ‘Jund al-Samaa’, or ‘Soldiers of Heaven’, on the other.

The clashes, which erupted on 28 January in Najaf palm groves, left 263 militants dead, 210 wounded and 392 others arrested [emphasis mine–HH], Iraqi defence ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said.

At least 11 Iraqi troops were killed along with two US soldiers, whose helicopter was shot down during the battle. Some 30 Iraqi troops were wounded.

Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (wikipedia)

See also: Keyword ‘Najaf’ on scanlyze

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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7 February, 2007 Posted by | Air Force, Army, Bush, Iran, Iraq, journalism, massacre, media, memory hole, military, Najaf, New York Times, news, peace, politics, scanlyze, USA, war, war crimes | Leave a comment