Los Angeles Times: One day after a raid on an Iraqi Interior Ministry building revealed a large number of undocumented prisoners, some with injuries consistent with abuse, a U.S. Army general said that American and Iraqi troops planned to carry out checks at every ministry detention facility in the capital.
Los Angeles Times
Having found signs of prisoner abuse at an Interior Ministry site, troops will search every such facility in Baghdad, an Army general says.
By John Daniszewski, Times Staff Writer
BAGHDAD – One day after a raid on an Iraqi Interior Ministry building revealed a large number of undocumented prisoners, some with injuries consistent with abuse, a U.S. Army general said that American and Iraqi troops planned to carry out checks at every ministry detention facility in the capital.
Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, who commanded the troops that carried out the raid Sunday night, told reporters during a chance street encounter that “we’re going to hit every single one of them, every single one of them.”
He said that when he went to the facility in south Baghdad’s Jadiriya neighborhood, he had been told by those in charge that 40 prisoners were inside. But after “we kept opening doors,” more than 200 were found.
Some of the prisoners the U.S. soldiers found had injuries consistent with abuse, and they have been moved to facilities where they will be assured proper treatment, Horst said.
The developments came on a day of renewed violence, with U.S. and Iraqi troops assaulting a suspected insurgent stronghold in Obeidi, a Euphrates River town 12 miles from the Syrian border. Airstrikes killed 37 insurgents, according to a statement from Marines in Ramadi, and 25 were captured.
Also Monday, a car bomb exploded near the main entrance to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, killing two South Africans and wounding three other people. The South Africans worked for DynCorp International, a security contractor employed by the U.S. State Department.
In Ramadi, a roadside bomb apparently targeting a U.S. military convoy struck two buses carrying civilians. A hospital spokesman in the city, Dr. Joma Mashhadani, said five people were killed and 20 injured, including students who were en route to Ramadi University.
And this morning, a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant serving breakfast to police in northeast Baghdad. The 7 a.m. blast killed two police officers and injured six, plus three civilians, a police source said.
The U.S. raid of the detention center in Baghdad occurred amid widespread suspicions that militia elements with ties to some of the Shiite Muslim political movements that dominate the government have been arresting, torturing and in some cases killing suspected political or sectarian enemies.
The most prominent Shiite militias in Iraq are the Badr Brigade, long associated with the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the Al Mahdi army, formed by followers of cleric Muqtada Sadr.
An Iraqi police source, who asked not to be named for reasons of safety, said there were suspicions that the Jadiriya office had been serving as a base for the Badr Brigade and that the people there in Interior Ministry uniforms were militiamen.
To underline U.S. concerns about detainees, a senior U.S. military commander met Monday with Bayan Jabr, the interior minister, the police source said.
The Americans had been tipped off about the detention facility by relatives of some of those held, the source said.
Sunday night’s raid appeared to be among the first known instances in which U.S. forces in Baghdad had stepped in to protect prisoners being held in government facilities.
Horst would not specify whom he held responsible for holding the prisoners, but he said there were intelligence organizations operating in the city “inside and outside of the government.”
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, said in an interview Saturday, before the raid, that U.S. forces took allegations of extrajudicial abuse or killings by police very seriously.
“Each and every allegation of those kinds of things are treated individually and are turned over to the Iraqi authorities for investigation, and we follow up,” Lynch said. “We’re finding that the minister of interior is very sensitive to human rights violations and these allegations of abuse, and he’s taking appropriate action…. It is not tolerated.”