This is what we have created in Iraq by our own actions; turning a blind eye to torture, murder and abuse. In the name of “liberation”, of course:
During the foreboding months of 2005, one police unit struck more fear into Iraqis than the entire occupying US army. They were known as the Wolf Brigade.
Brutal even by Iraqi standards, their soldiers and officers seemingly answered to no one. They were seen as indiscriminate and predatory. The unit’s reputation had been known Iraq-wide and results of their numerous raids are still bogged down in Iraq’s legal system.
But the full range of their abuses and close co-operation with the US army remained in the shadows until the WikiLeaks disclosures showcased them in stark detail.
A visit from the unit to any neighbourhood was sure to bring trouble – as it it did for Omar Salem Shehab on 25 June that year.
“We were at home that night,” Shehab recalled this week. “We were three brothers sleeping above my ice-cream shop. We were woken by soldiers entering our house by force. They came with Americans. They said we were wanted and produced a document. The Americans took our pictures, then the soldiers we now knew were the Wolf Brigade took us to the Seventh Division camp [of the Iraqi army].”
Shehab and his brothers lived in Dora, in Baghdad’s south, a lethal enclave of the city that was rapidly deteriorating into chaos. Like most of Dora’s residents, they are Sunni Muslims.
The trio were at the army camp for a day, then transferred to Baghdad’s main prison, known as Tsferrat.
“We were tortured all the time, he said. “We were never investigated, just tortured. The commander of the Wolf Brigade, Abu al-Walid was one of the torturers. My brother had a kidney problem and they continued to torture him without giving him medicine.
An Iraqi criminal prisoner was tortured and beaten to death within three days of being turned over to police in Basra by British troops.
This latest detailed evidence of previously covered-up Iraq atrocities has emerged following the leak of a vast number of Iraq war logs compiled by the US army and containing hour-by-hour military field reports.
The 391,832 previously secret field reports, passed to the Guardian and other newspapers by the online whistleblowing group WikiLeaks, has already shown that US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers.
According to the new evidence, British authorities were well aware of the atrocities that were occurring in Basra and were unhappy about them.
An autopsy was conducted on the prisoner, the police officer said to have killed him was named in a UK investigation, and high-level diplomatic protests were made to the Iraqi interior minister, without apparent result.
Documents obtained by the Guardian and by a Danish newspaper detail the arrest of Abbas Alawi by a joint British and Danish patrol on 10 April 2005.
In Operation Grey Wolf, Alawi – code-named Bravo One – was picked up along with three other men in a dawn raid by British infantry of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. The logs record that the prisoners were handed over to the Basra police, controlled by Iraq’s ministry of the interior.