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WikiLeaks: U.N. Says Iraqi Children Shot in Head

By Matthew Schofield
McClatchy Newspapers
via Common Dreams
Setember 1, 2011

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/09/01-2

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. 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.)

c McClatchy Newspapers 2011

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