The following excerpts are from a thoroughly researched account on the phenomenon of death squads operating in Iraq:"Police Commandos and Disinformation Brigades
An instructive starting point for an examination of the prevailing media consensus is to consider some of the forces of the Iraqi state most closely associated with allegations of serious human rights abuses.
The majority of accusations are general. Journalists refer to the police, security forces, the National Guard or to poorly identified police commandos, but specific accusations have been made against a unit known as the Wolf Brigade. The identification of the Wolf Brigade with cases of abduction, torture and execution in Baghdad was first made on 16 May, when Mothana Harith Al-Dari, a spokesman for the AMS, stated that ‘The mass killings and the crackdown and detention campaigns in north-eastern Baghdad over the past two days by members of the Iraqi police or by an Interior Ministry special force, known as the Wolf Brigade, are part of a state terror policy’, in relation to the discoveries of the victims of extrajudicial executions noted above (Islam Online
Within days a Knight Ridder journalist, Hannah Allam, had published under a variety of titles an article about the Wolf Brigade, highlighting their maverick tough-guy image and presenting their leader, who goes by the nom de guerre of Abul Waleed, as a devout Shiite, ‘complete with a photo of Imam Ali and religious chants programmed into his constantly ringing cell phone.’ (Knight Ridder
). Allam informed readers that Waleed regarded the AMS as infidels and tossed their accusations of torture and murder into the bin. Additionally, readers learned that the unit was formed as the brainchild of Waleed in October 2004, saw its first action in Mosul after nearly two months’ training with US forces, and is behind the inhuman television programme Terrorists in the Grip of Justice, in which tortured detainees are forced to confess to a lurid array of crimes (Associated Press
). However, whilst belittling charges of horrendous human-rights violations as ‘the usual complaints’, Allam made no reference to the Wolf Brigade being a special forces unit attached to the Interior Ministry
(emphasis added).What is the Wolf Brigade?
The most feared and effective commando unit in Iraq, experts say. Formed last October by a former three-star Shiite general and SCIRI member who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Walid, the Wolf Brigade is composed of roughly 2,000 fighters, mostly young, poor Shiites from Sadr City.Are there any Sunni-led commando units?
Yes. At least one counterinsurgency unit is headed by a former officer of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The Special Police Commandos, like the Wolf Brigade, have a reputation for brutality, but the group is also considered one of Iraq's most effective and well-disciplined counterinsurgency units.
... Those familiar with Peter Maas’s article ‘The Way of the Commandos
’, published by The New York Times Magazine just six weeks earlier, will recognise that, in fact, the Wolf Brigade bears a striking similarity to the unit he identifies as the Special Police Commandos. The Police Commandos, too, were formed in autumn 2004 and saw one of their first major commitments in Mosul in November; like the Wolf Brigade, their leader also founded an unspeakably vile television show called Terrorism in the Grip of Justice.
The Police Commandos were founded on the initiative of then Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib, the son of a former Iraqi Chief of Staff, believed by many to have been a major CIA asset (National Review Online
), under the command of his uncle, an ex-Baathist, Sunni military intelligence officer and CIA coup-plotter called Adnan Thabit. Its recruits are drawn from former members of the special forces and Republican Guard, with mixed ethnic and religious background (Washington Post
), while its chain of command is said to be largely Sunni. Most importantly, the Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units (Reuters
, National Review Online
A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army special forces operative. [See a previous posting on this site
, CIA terrorism in Iraq ..... Who? US?
, June 1, 2005].
... Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as ‘rumor and innuendo’.
... In fact, the entire intelligence establishment is a creation of the Anglo-American secret services (Los Angeles Times
), which began building at least as early as the beginning of the occupation (Detroit Free Press
), although it may be suspected that the process was conceived long before. The new Iraqi establishment was staffed by long-term CIA assets, such as General Mohammad Shahwani, who had been nurtured by the CIA since the late 1980s (Asia Times Online
) and became director of the new National Intelligence Service (the Mukhabarat). Like Thabit and Flayyih, other old CIA hands, Shahwani had participated in attempted coups against the government of Iraq.
... Like Thabit and Flayyih, Shahwani has retained his position under the transitional government and continues to report directly to the CIA (Seattle Times
). Clearly, however, the purpose of stating or implying that unaccountable militias are behind the extrajudicial executions and/or that sectarian rivalries, especially Shia control of the Interior Ministry (which, as Beaumont correctly points out, is the centre of the horror), are to blame, is to distance the US from the almost unthinkable ongoing crimes against humanity. Comparable disinformation strategies have been employed in every counterinsurgency conflict with which the US has been involved; it is known as establishing ‘plausible deniability’...
... More specifically, in the case of Iraq, this disinformation strategy not only seems to be designed to mask the real intellectual authors of genocidal crimes, but also, increasingly, appears to be directed towards creating the very sectarian divisions that it hides behind.
... To penetrate the media smokescreen of spontaneous, uncontrollable violence and understand the role of intelligence operations in the creation of a beholden, occupied client state or series of statelets is fundamental to understanding the processes in Iraq today. It is also fundamental to recognising that the presence of Anglo-American forces in Iraq does not merely exacerbate the present violence; in Iraq we are the violence."Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq
November 10, 2005We would here emphasize the contents of a recent posting:The Occupiers are Recoiling: in horror
on November 3, 2005in which "I would venture to state, unequivocally, that the following three atrocities, among others that were exposed by sheer luck, have been perpetrated by the American occupying forces themselves in a 'Phoenix' like onslaught that reflects their dismal failure in containing the Iraqi Resistance, and a concerted effort to instigate sectarian strife among the Iraqi people."An Update:
"Faced with an insurgency that shows no signs of abating, the US and Iraqi government rely more and more on the paramilitaries. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, has said units such as General Adnan's commandos are among "forces that are going to have the greatest leverage on suppressing and eliminating the insurgency". Those on the receiving end of some of this "leverage", however, describe terrifying experiences."The Dirty War: Torture and mutilation used on Iraqi 'insurgents'
November 20, 2005