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[casi] News, 14-21/05/03 (5)

News, 14-21/05/03 (5)


*  Iraq's 'new patriots'
*  Iraqi Clerics Urge Anti-U.S. Protest
*  Protesters in Iraq assail U.S. occupation
*  Bodies of Kurds found at desert site
*  Former Iraqi General Khazraji in Iraq, Son Says
*  U.S. forces storm Islamic Party of Iraq headquarters
*  SCIRI issues memo on choosing interim national council
*  Comments by Juan Cole


*  Thousands of bodies uncovered in mass grave in Iraq
*  Hussein's stamp still all over Iraq
*  No. 10 Most-Wanted Iraqi Surrenders
*  Proved innocent
*  Chemical Ali 'may have survived raid'
*  Pro-Saddam singer shot dead
*  Iraqis Killing Former Baath Party Members


by Mitch Potter
Toronto Star, 18th May

BAGHDAD‹Two months ago, a visit to Wamith Nadthme's home on the northern
outskirts of the Iraqi capital was a cloak-and-dagger affair.

As Baghdad's most outspoken political scientist, Nadthme stood alone as one
who would dare to publicly criticize the besieged leadership of Saddam
Hussein from within the belly of the dying beast.

Measuring his words with life-or-death precision, the Baghdad University
scholar gingerly finessed a fine line, weaving words around what could be
taken as unmistakable dissent, or unforgivable treason, for the benefit of a
growing parade of visiting foreign journalists.

That he avoided arrest in blaming Saddam for the inevitable war remains one
of the wonders of the last days of Baathist Iraq.

Fast forward four fortnights, and Nadthme is holding court once again, but
this time with the emboldened voice of a pundit free of his leash.

For the first time in decades, the 59-year-old professor can say what he
really thinks.

In a wide-ranging interview, Nadthme at first sat alone, describing the
political landscape.

But as darkness fell, his sitting room filled with fellow academics ‹ drawn
together by a common vision, grateful for their new-found freedom but
adamantly opposed to the "invaders" who delivered it.

"What you see here is just a small corner of the new Iraqi patriot
movement," Nadthme explained as his guests began filing into the room.

"We are not a political party, because already there are too many partisan
forces emerging. We don't want to be the government, but rather to be a
watchdog to scrutinize whatever the Americans put in our path.

"We don't trust the motives of those now scrambling for power. What Iraq
needs now are academics who can rise above these forces to push for an
inclusive, moderate and unified democracy."

For Nadthme and friends, these are words worth fighting for. The essence of
their argument is that the true voice of a future and sovereign Iraq is
being railroaded by the machinations of the American reconstruction effort
and the formerly exiled opposition groups.

"When I spoke before the war, I was holding back," Nadthme acknowledged.
"But not just about Saddam. We all know he lost touch with reality after
1991. What I could not reveal then is how shameful we find the opposition
groups who are working with the Americans.

"They have no authority, no constituency, no claim on what will become of
the new Iraq."

Nadthme complains that he and the others are being kept in the dark,
literally and figuratively.

There was no electricity in his home on this night, thanks to rotating
blackouts that continue in the Iraqi capital.

"But we also have no clue about what the American's are up to inside the
Republican Palace, whatever plans they are making about our oil, our future.

"This is very disturbing."

Yet pronouncements on that future come daily. Despite promises of full Iraqi
democracy, U.S. officials have signalled that Islam need not apply.

On Friday, the U.S. said it would ban as many as 30,000 members of the Baath
party from any role in governing Iraq.

Nadthme is the first to agree that the Baath movement has no future. But he
insists that dealing with the trauma of the former regime's dictatorial
legacy is Iraq's business, not America's.

"The overwhelming majority wants the past to remain in the past. But let us
dispense with it legally.

"Allow us to form a constitutional tribunal, to follow the rule of law and
seek out the truth. If that incriminates the Baath party as a whole, this is
how we will heal ourselves and move forward."

In ruling out Islamic fundamentalism for any role in the new Iraq, the
United States again risks backlash, Nadthme warns.

"The sense we are getting is that America is finessing the situation in such
a way that we have three choices ‹ Ahmed Chalabi, Ahmed Chalabi or Ahmed
Chalabi," he says in reference to the controversial leader of the exiles'
Iraqi National Congress and a clear Pentagon favourite for post-war rule.

"Look, we are tired. We have been through three wars ‹ two big ones and one
little one. The major impulse on the part of the Shiite Muslims, the Sunnis,
the Kurds and the Christians is to come together, to be moderate, to live

"But the more they push us toward their vision, the more Iraqis will be
pushed in the opposite direction. So, the people I know are simply refusing
to discuss it."

While Nadthme rejects American occupation, he is resigned to the reality of
it and has been advising his Iraqi colleagues to return to work, so far as
the security situation allows.

Indeed, he reclaimed his own office at Baghdad University last week, in
preparation for the resumption of classes.

But the co-operation of the rump movement he describes simply as "new Iraqi
patriots" does not extend to negotiations of any kind with the U.S.-led
reconstruction effort.

"How can you enter into discussions when Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
has described the looting as `an expression of freedom?'

"I cannot bridge my logic to that. And anyone who can is disqualifying
themselves from the right to have anything to do with ultimate leadership in


Speaking off the record, ORHA officials admit to their own frustrations with
the slow pace of reconstruction, saying the electricity and gasoline
shortages are a result of the continuing United Nations sanctions, which are
barring exports and thus preventing Iraq's refineries from operating at full
capacity to meet demand.

"Until the sanctions are lifted, we can't move out the heavy oil products
clogging up the system, which means the refineries cannot produce enough gas
to meet the needs of the automobiles and power plants," an ORHA source said.

Incredible though it may seem, the sanctions snag has forced ORHA to import
tanker trucks of gasoline from Kuwait and Turkey to forestall a full-blown
energy crisis in Iraq, which sits atop the world's second-largest known
petroleum reserves.

The explanation mystifies Nadthme and friends, who wonder why the U.S.-led
effort is bothering to play by the rules of the United Nations now, when the
organization was deemed irrelevant for the purposes of making war.

Says Nadthme: "The invasion came without authority from the United Nations,
on the basis of the certainty that Iraq harboured weapons of mass

"Now, it appears that Saddam, who was so demonized over these weapons,
appears to have been correct in claiming they no longer exist.

"So perhaps now they are nervous about how they go forward. Perhaps they are
realizing this illegal occupation must give way to a United Nations mandate.

"If so, we accept and welcome it. If not, Iraq is not totally unarmed. We
can fight with boycotts, with legal action, with appeals to international
law and liberal public opinion around the world.

"One way or another, we will get our country back."

by Anthony Shadid
Washington Post, 19th May

BAGHDAD, May 18 -- Powerful Shiite Muslim clergy have called on hundreds of
thousands of their supporters to take to the streets of Baghdad and other
cities Monday in what could be the biggest show of religious opposition to
the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

The call, made today in a statement by a leading cleric in Baghdad and in
leaflets posted in mosques in Shiite neighborhoods in the capital, marks an
escalation in organized Shiite disenchantment with the U.S. occupation
administration of L. Paul Bremer III, who last week replaced retired Army
Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner as the chief civilian administrator in Iraq.

The clerics, themselves engaged in a power struggle over the future of
Iraq's majority Shiite community, criticized the U.S. determination to rule
Iraq for months, perhaps years, and complained that U.S. officials have
failed to reach out to their constituency.

"We will keep making our demands until we achieve them and, if not, we will
continue peaceful rebellion and expose their glossy slogans," Mohammed
Fartousi, a key cleric in Baghdad, said in an interview today. "The masses
will ask for freedom and they will refuse the occupation."

He added: "We don't need a foreign man to run our country."

Fartousi said the biggest demonstrations are planned for Baghdad and the
Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq. He
predicted that 1 million people would take part in the protests, though
there was no way to gauge potential turnout. While sporadic protests have
erupted since the fall of former president Saddam Hussein and the end of 35
years of Baath Party rule, Fartousi said the demonstrations planned for
Monday would mark the largest, most coordinated show of opposition to the
U.S. occupation.

For the U.S. occupiers, Shiite Muslim politics and their array of competing
personalities and agendas remain one of the least understood and potentially
most decisive axes in the emerging political landscape in Iraq.

In past days, opposition figures have voiced concern over the U.S. intention
to push back the creation of an interim authority and, once established,
delegate it with powers far more modest than those leaders had originally

The planned demonstrations raise the specter of civil disobedience even as
U.S. forces struggle to bring order to Baghdad, whose residents are
frustrated by a lack of electricity and water, fearful of persistent looting
and theft by gangs, and embittered by a collapsing economy that has yet to
show signs of improvement.

The protests focus attention on the added dimension of grass-roots
resentment over the U.S. efforts to create the interim authority. Clergy,
including Fartousi, complained that U.S. officials have mainly engaged Iraqi
exiles with whom they have dealt for years and contended that the
U.S.-backed opposition groups enjoy limited support. U.S. officials have
insisted that those parties have made a concerted effort to broaden their
support by including representatives from inside Iraq.

"Until now, there is no contact with us," Fartousi said in the interview at
the Hikma Mosque in the sprawling Baghdad slum once known as Saddam City,
where he and his followers wield substantial influence. "But perhaps when
they see the demonstration, there will be some negotiations. We are ready to
administer our country. The foreigners cannot run our country."

In a statement, he was more blunt. The protests, he said, "declare our
refusal and disapproval of any client government."

A U.S. official acknowledged that American administrators have yet to reach
out to the clergy in such cities as Najaf and Karbala and may not do so for
weeks. He said the constellation of interests within the community remains

"We're not in a rush on this," the official said. "If it's going to be done
right, it's got to be done in a courteous, deliberate and thoughtful

Fartousi belongs to a religious current loyal to Moqtada Sadr, a relatively
junior cleric in Najaf from a family of some of Iraq's most prominent Shiite
clergy. His father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq Sadr, and two brothers
were assassinated in Najaf in 1999 -- an attack his followers blamed on
Hussein's security forces -- and their deaths resonate with many Shiites as
an example of suffering and sacrifice.

After the Iraqi government fell, Sadr's followers quickly filled the power
vacuum in cities in the predominantly Shiite Muslim south as well as in
Baghdad's poor Shiite neighborhoods such as Saddam City. Soon after U.S.
forces entered Baghdad, the slum was renamed Sadr City by his followers, and
a newly painted portrait of his father graces a square at the entrance.

But Sadr's followers face opposition, much of it still low-key and couched
in veiled criticism. The biggest organized challenge is posed by the Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir
Hakim, who returned to Iraq this month after years of exile in Iran. Hakim
enjoys the support of a well-organized party apparatus honed by years of
working together, and the presence of thousands of armed followers grouped
under the Badr Brigade. Hakim, long supported by the Islamic government in
Iran, is one of seven figures whom U.S. officials have looked to as the
nucleus of an eventual interim authority.

Some of the more conservative, tradition-bound clerics at the respected
seminary in Najaf have expressed resentment at Sadr's emergence, belittling
his lack of religious scholarship and his relative youth. (He is 30.) Part
of that opposition centers on disputes over the role of the clergy. Sadr
argues for an activist style in which clerics play an aggressive role in
political life. The more conservative clergy under the leadership of Grand
Ayatollah Ali Sistani subscribe to a more spiritual role and consider
themselves above the fray of everyday politics.

The U.S. official suggested that the American administrators wanted to wait
to see how the disputes are resolved.

"The friction, if it occurs, will not be so much between the coalition and
the Shiites but between the Shiites themselves, and I have no idea how
that's going to play out," he said.

by Brian Knowlton
International Herald Tribune, 20th May

WASHINGTON: Thousands of Shiite and Sunni Muslims marched peacefully through
Baghdad on Monday in a religious rally that turned into a largely political
protest against the American military presence and its plans for a future
Iraqi government.

With an estimated 10,000 people, it was perhaps the largest protest in Iraq
against the U.S. occupation.


In Baghdad, dozens of Shiite organizers, many armed with AK-47 assault
rifles, monitored the Baghdad march, ensuring order. American snipers were
posted on rooftops along the route and infantrymen kept watch.

The Baghdad procession was organized largely by Shiite Muslim groups from
the sprawling al-Thawra suburb, formerly known as Saddam City. But in an
effort at inclusiveness, the demonstrators began their march outside a Sunni
mosque in the northern Azimiyah district, and some Sunnis took part.

The crowd crossed a bridge over the Tigris to the Kadhamiya quarter, home to
one of the holiest Shiite shrines in Iraq, that of Musa al-Kazim, a
9th-century saint, and marchers openly celebrated the birthday of the
prophet Mohammed, the first time in decades they had been free to do so.

Some carried portraits of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late
revolutionary and spiritual leader of Iran.

But while protesters called for Muslim unity, their chants and slogans were
primarily political, and the combination of the spiritual and the political
helped make this larger than the series of protests, many of them hundreds
strong, against the U.S. presence.


by Stephen Farrell in al-Shinafiyah
The Times, 20th May

A MASS grave believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of Kurds killed
after the chemical attack on Halabja has been found in a desert in southern

Villagers of al-Shinafiyah, 50 miles south of Najaf, led The Times to a site
where they claimed that Iraqi soldiers had shot men and women in July 1988
and buried them in a trench. One said he saw the massacre, another that he
had heard machinegun fire daily.

What the site at al-Shinafiyah holds may be the latest evidence of Saddam's
Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, when tens of thousands of people
disappeared as he sought to depopulate the Kurdish countryside and wreak
revenge for the Kurdish guerrillas' decision to side with Iranian forces
during the Iran-Iraq War.

Even as the Anfal genocide continued, Saddam's most infamous atrocity was
perpetrated in March 1988, when he dropped nerve gas on Halabja, killing
5,000 people. Four months later, al-Shinafiyah villagers say, buses arrived
in the area and the killings began.

Hadi Khadoum, a shepherd, said that he saw soldiers use a mechanical digger.
The next day he saw three cars and 25 green buses, their windows painted
out. "The buses were reversed to the trench and soldiers were pulling people
by the arm and throwing them as far as they could into the ditch, while the
soldiers around the trench started shooting. I just heard some women
screaming and that was all."

Tehran Times, 21st May

COPENHAGEN -- A former Iraqi Army chief who in March escaped house arrest in
Denmark where he was suspected of committing war crimes is in Iraq and is
politically active, his son told Danish daily Politiken on Tuesday.

Nizar al-Khazraji, a former head of the Iraqi Armed Forces, fled Denmark on
March 17, reportedly with the help of the CIA. He had been under house
arrest in Denmark since November 2002 on charges of taking part in chemical
weapon attacks on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.

"We have learned that he is in Iraq, that he is doing well, and that he is
involved in political work," his son Ahmed said as carried by AFP.

He said he had not spoken directly with his father, but that he had received
the information from people he trusted.

"When he wants to speak to us, he will contact us. Now we are happy to know
he is alive," Ahmed said, denying rumors that Khazraji was killed in Basra
at the end of the Iraq war.

The general was head of the Iraqi Armed Forces during the invasion of Kuwait
in 1990 but fled to Jordan in 1995. He received political asylum in Denmark
in 1999.

Danish newspaper BT said on March 22 that Khazraji, believed to be the
highest ranking officer to have defected from Iraq and touted by U.S. media
as a possible successor to ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, had
escaped with the help of the CIA.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said last week however that the
United States was not planning to give Khazraji a role in the new interim
administration in Baghdad.

Danish Justice Minister Lene Espersen, who came under fire from the
opposition for Khazraji's disappearance, has on two occasions written to
U.S. authorities asking for any information on his disappearance and

She has yet to receive a response.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Iraq Report Vol. 6, No. 22, 16 May 2003


U.S. forces reportedly stormed the headquarters of the Islamic Party of Iraq
in Al-Fallujah, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 May. The news agency said some 50
U.S. commandos removed all documents and computer equipment from the
building. The report noted that the United States suspects the party of
planning to establish an armed group. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Iraq Report Vol. 6, No. 22, 16 May 2003


The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) has issued a
memorandum to the members of the interim higher leadership team (see "RFE/RL
Iraq Report," 7 May 2003) recommending a mechanism for choosing members for
an interim national council, Bahrain based "Akhbar al-Khalij" reported on 11
May. The national council would be responsible for electing an interim
government and new Iraqi prime minister.

The memorandum recommends that the 65 members of the "Follow-up and
Coordination Committee," along with a group of nominees from inside Iraq,
"based on a numerical ceiling that takes into account the selection of one
delegate for every 100,000 citizens, based on the number of governorates,"
and minority delegates all participate in the council meeting.

In addition, the leadership board would appoint a committee for each of
Iraq's 18 governorates, and select delegates from the tribes and dignitaries
of each governorate based on the allotted number. The Chamber of Commerce
and the Federation of Industries, as well as judges and prominent
educational or professional figures, and senior religious figures would also
submit representatives.

The memorandum, which excludes senior members and branch members of the
Ba'ath Party from participating in the council, calls for a meeting of the
interim national council by the end of May, and states, "The most senior
member [of the leadership board] will chair the meeting." It also calls for
the establishment of parliamentary blocs based on member affiliations, in an
effort to "activate the political life."

The memorandum also recommends that the council choose a temporary interim
government and a sovereign council, stating, "The leadership board shall
present to the interim council the names of the temporary government
members. The council shall vote on each name separately." The council would
then choose a prime minister, who would nominate a cabinet, which the
interim national council would approve by a "vote of confidence." It also
calls for the number of former ministries to be maintained in order "to
avoid confusion." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


Saturday, May 17, 2003


‹The radical Sadrist Iraqi cleric Shaikh Muhammad al-Fartusi, prayer leader
of the al Hikmah Mosque in Shiite East Baghdad (congregation: 50,000) has
warned that Iraqi women who consort with American soldiers could be
legitimately killed by religious vigilantes. He also warned cinema owners
that if they show risqué films, they were at risk from being burned down.
The Sadr Movement maintains that even Christian women should be veiled. -
Alan Philps of the Daily Telegraph.


Monday, May 19, 2003

‹Shaikh Muhammad al-Fartousi, the Friday prayers leader of the al-Hikmah
Mosque in Shiite East Baghdad is one of many clergymen who have called for
demonstrations against the US occupation in Baghdad and in the Shiite holy
cities of Najaf and Karbala. Al Fartousi say he expects a turn-out of about
a million demonstrators.

This demonstration appears to come in response to the decision of ORHA head
Paul Bremer to have the US administer Iraq directly rather than turning many
day to day matters over to a leadership council. Bremer is now denying that
there has been any change in plan, but he calls the leadership council only
an "interim authority" and says it will have a purely consultative role. The
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the al-Da`wa Party both
have representatives on the council, initially appointed by Bremer's
predecessor, Jay Garner. The largest and by all accounts most important
Shiite movement, the Sadrists, who follow Muqtada al-Sadr (al-Fartousi
belongs to this group) have refused to have anything to do with the US

The Shiites complain that the US is planning a long-term occupation and
direct administration of their country, and that US officials have not
contacted the main Shiite religious leaders. Astonishingly, this last charge
appears actually to be true. US officials are lamely replying that they've
been busy restoring security and services, and so haven't had time to visit
the main clerics in Najaf and Karbala. (They haven't actually done a very
good job of restoring security and services, and few political tasks could
have been more important than reaching out to the main Shiite ayatollahs!)

Al-Fartousi is quoted as saying, "We will keep making our demands until we
achieve them and, if not, we will continue peaceful rebellion and expose
their glossy slogans. We don't need a foreign man to run our country."

Al-Fartousi and the other Sadrists really want Bremer gone on a short time
schedule, and probably the Supreme Council feels the same way, now that it
has again been sidelined. A spokesman for the Supreme Council, according to
AFP, referred to a campaign of "civil disobedience" if the US "breaks its
promises" about moving quickly to an Iraqi interim government. We'll know by
Monday evening EST how the demonstrations went. I am sure the US army won't
let itself be suckered into acting provocatively.

‹The scandalous rumors spread about US troops by Shiite cleric Kadhim
al-'Ibadah (Abade), prayer leader of the Imam al-Sadr Mosque of East Baghdad
(congregation: 30,000) are discussed in a smart article by Warren Richie of
the Christian Science Monitor. Al 'Ibadah said that US soldiers were using
night vision goggles to see through Iraqi women's clothing and were passing
out candy to children with pornographic wrappers. The sermon, full of these
ridiculous falsehoods, surprised the US troops, who have been trying to
build a positive relationship with the Shiite leadership in Sadr City. When
they complained, they were told that the sermon had not been approved by the
religious establishment in Najaf, and that henceforth sermons should be
submitted for approval first.

But what is almost certainly the case is that al-`Ibadah is a Sadrist, and
is not obedient to Ali Sistani, the head of the Najaf establishment. He is
not going to submit his sermons for approval. Sistani hasn't appointed the
East Baghdad prayer leaders. The young firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr has. The US
should probably back Sistani in an attempt to get his men in control of
those mosques, but this could lead to a confrontation with the militant and
well armed Sadrists. Apparently the US army is being fed the polite fiction
that the prayer leaders are somehow under Sistani's authority. This is only
theoretically true. Scholastics often speak as though the theory was the
reality; here, it is not.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

‹About 10,000 Shiites turned out for peaceful demonstrations in Baghdad
Monday against continued US occupation of Iraq, and against the American
slighting of the Shiite leadership. One organizer had predicted a million
man march, so this result fell substantially short of his expectations. The
US army did not interfere with the demonstrations,which was wise on its
part. It appears to be the case that Iraqi Shiites are just not that upset
with the US at the moment, and that the various religious parties do not
have so much sway that they can mount a really impressive demonstration.
Monday's rallies would be important only if they are a harbinger of much
bigger and more confrontational demonstrations down the road.

‹Many Sunni Iraqis living in the Shiite South of the country have, according
to Az-Zaman newspaper today, complained to the Shiite religious leadership
in Najaf and Karbala about Shiite political organizations taking over Sunni
mosques there. These moves come despite the fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah
Ali Sistani forbidding such usurpation of Sunni mosques by Shiites. (The
office speaking in the name of "al-Sayyid al-Sadr" has given the same
instructions.) Saddam made a point of building many new Sunni mosques in
Shiite areas and letting them sermonize, whereas he forbade Shiite clergy
from preaching sermons. Shiites are understandably resentful of the ways in
which Sunnis remain on top economically and politically, in some case
because Saddam threw key economic resources to them.

Several Sunni mosques have been usurped in an-Nasiriya and al-Samawah. The
new Shiite leadership of a couple of the stolen mosques say they will return
them to the Sunnis because they follow Sistani and will respect his fatwa.
But other new mosque leaderships are refusing to relinquish the former Sunni
mosques, saying that they belong to the al-Da`wa Party and do not consider
themselves bound by Sistani's rulings. In a way, this latter sentiment has
even more potentially dire consequences for the Shiite south than does the
usurpation of a few mosques.

‹Lebanese Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Husain Fadlullah denounced guerrilla
operations that kill innocent civilians. This pronouncement comes in the
wake of the horrible suicide bombings in Israel over the weekend. Fadlullah
says such operations are contrary to Islam.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003


‹Grand Ayatollahs Ali Sistani and Muhammad Sa`id al-Hakim gave two-hour
audiences in their offices in Najaf yesterday to hundreds of visitors to the
city seeking advice on what their attitudes should be to various groups and
political parties. This according to az Zaman. The two had been in hiding
since mobs of Sadrists surrounded their houses in early April and demanded
they leave the city within 48 hours. They were surrounded by special armed
guards during their appearances Tuesday, but that they came in public at all
seems to be a sign of increased confidence in the security of Najaf. It also
seems to me likely that they feel that the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr are
now less likely to be able to move against them violently. The Sadrists see
Sistani and Sa`id al-Hakim as having capitulated to Saddam by keeping quiet
politically in the past few years, and they deeply resent that these two
survived while their hero, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was killed in 1999 by the



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Iraq Report Vol. 6, No. 22, 16 May 2003


More than 3,000 bodies have been uncovered at the site of a mass grave in
the area of Al Mahawil (near Al-Hillah) approximately 90 kilometers south of
Baghdad, international media reported on 14 May. The bodies, half of which
have already been identified, appear to be victims killed by President
Saddam Hussein's regime following a Shi'ite uprising at the end of the 1991
Gulf War, Human Rights Watch spokesman Peter Bouckaert told CNN.

Local residents told "The New York Times" that they witnessed the regime
busing Shi'ites to a marsh area in Al-Mahawil in February and March 1991,
sometimes twice a day, where the victims were shot and buried by bulldozers,
according to a 14 May report on the daily's website. The site extends over
several acres, and excavations are expected to yield several thousand more

Meanwhile, U.S. Marines were criticized for refusing to seal off the site so
that a methodical investigation could be conducted. Such an investigation
could uncover evidence that might later be used in prosecuting war crimes of
the Hussein regime. In a statement posted on the organization's website,
Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the U.S. for failing to protect the
site. "The U.S. government has known since 3 May about the existence of a
mass grave in Al-Hillah (Al-Mahawil) but has not taken action to protect the
site," the organization charged.

According to HRW: "On 3 May, the mayor of Al-Hillah requested assistance
from U.S. Marines to guard the site. On 5 May, investigators for the
Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid (ORHA) reported to
authorities in Washington that the grave had been inadequately protected,
and recommended the creation of mobile forensic teams that could visit the
site. On 7 May, ORHA reported to Washington that the mass grave might
contain several thousand bodies." The failure of U.S. forces to protect the
site has resulted in "desperate families trying to dig up the site
themselves -- disturbing the evidence for forensic experts who could
professionally establish the identities of the victims," Peter Bouckaert,
HRW's senior emergencies researcher, said. The organization also reported
the discovery of a "secret burial ground containing the numbered graves of
more than 1,000 prisoners executed by the Iraqi government." The site is
located approximately 40 kilometers north of Baghdad in the village of
Muhammad Sakran, HRW reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

by Charles A. Radin
Boston Globe, 16th May

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi families know the best place for seriously ill children is
Saddam Pediatric Hospital. When they dream of travel, they think of Saddam
International Airport. When they're hungry, they cannot buy so much as a
kebab without looking at a picture of the ousted President Saddam Hussein.

Hussein even coined a new word, ''Saddamia,'' to describe towns and
neighborhoods he created, and he had his name baked into the bricks of the
projects he ordered, from his monumental presidential palaces to the
restored gates of ancient Babylon.

Hussein may be gone now, although many here doubt that. Even if he is never
heard from again, it will take years, possibly decades, before the gigantic
personal imprint he stamped on this society can be effaced.

''The whole of Iraq is called Saddam,'' said Tharwat Muttar, 26, a surgical
nurse who waited for a taxi at the gates of the pediatric hospital. ''I live
in Hai Saddam. In every place, there is something called Saddam.''

The day the dictator's statue was pulled down in Firdous Square, the staff
ripped down the Saddam Pediatric Hospital sign and began calling the
facility al-Iskan Hospital, after the section of Baghdad in which it is
located. But the patients who bring children here from all over Iraq ''don't
know this,'' she said. ''They call it Saddam.''

Millions of the Hussein pictures that the regime inserted into every nook
and cranny of life here already have been defaced, literally, but his mark
is deeply engraved.

The huge wads of 250 dinar notes that Iraqis carry bear his image. The bills
sometimes are called ''saddams'' when Iraqis deal with Chechen pilgrims,
Russian traders, and other foreigners who have difficulty coping with the
devalued currency and find it easier to value goods at, say, 20 saddams
rather than 5,000 dinars.

The fact that no one knows where Hussein is makes some Iraqis reluctant to
go too far or too fast with de-Saddamization. Many people believe he will
attempt a comeback. Those who remember him fondly and preserve his image may
not be a majority, but they also are not hard to find.

''Why did you do this to Saddam?'' Nurman Mohammed Nawar, 37, owner of
Zarzoor Famous Kebab Restaurant in the upscale Mansur neighborhood of
western Baghdad, said to an American visitor. ''I love this man. I like his
manliness, I like his courage.''

He admired Hussein's iron fist, saying, ''It wasn't Saddam, it was those
dogs who worked for him who executed innocent people.''

Many Iraqis say otherwise, and they have trashed pictures and symbols of
Hussein in public places around the neighborhood. But in Nawar's popular
kebaberie, a vase decorated with a full-color image of a grinning Hussein
remains next to the owner's chair at the cash register. Sometimes, Nawar
gives it a kiss.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when Hussein lived in Souk Hammada, the neighborhood
was a crowded, poverty-stricken slum. In 1991, after the foundations of its
tumbledown old houses were damaged in what residents call ''the war of Bush
the father,'' Hussein had it evacuated and completely rebuilt.

Now the area is known as Saddamia al-Kerkh, an attractive lower middle-class
neighborhood of broad, straight streets and modern homes in a prime location
on the banks of the Tigris River in central Baghdad. Unlike most other
communities, where the mandatory tiled portrait of Hussein at the entrance
has been hacked to bits or shot and hammered beyond repair, here it has been
covered with a single neat coat of gray paint that could be quickly and
easily removed if, as residents hope, there is a Saddam Hussein again in
their future.

''The majority in this neighborhood loves Saddam Hussein,'' said Abbas
Ibrahim, 21, a student of Hebrew at Baghdad University. ''They wish he would
come back. He didn't commit any injustice.''

A group of 30 residents of all ages who gathered to listen to Ibrahim
enthusiastically agreed.

The Kurds of northern Iraq and the Shi'ite Muslims of the south, who were
persecuted relentlessly by Hussein, would strongly oppose any attempt to
bring back his regime or one like it. But in central areas of the country
and in the capital, feelings are much more mixed.

''With Iraq gone, there will never be Arab unity,'' Ibrahim said. ''The only
one who hit Israel was Saddam Hussein, and that made us love him more.''

But great social forces are working against the remnants of Hussein's
supporters and monuments. The Kurds and the Shi'ites are more influential in
the capital than ever, and the determination of many citizens to wipe out
Hussein's power seems convincing.

One such citizen is Hadia Mohammed Kidaier, 50, headmistress of al-Wihda
al-Arabia, a primary school for girls in the Karada neighborhood of southern

Few institutions were more saturated with Hussein's personality cult than
Iraq's schools were. Students stood to sing choruses of ''Long live the
leader Saddam Hussein'' when their teachers entered the classroom, then sang
''Long live the Ba'ath Party'' when they sat down. The president and his
party were part of every morning's assembly. Photos of Hussein hung in every
hall and classroom.

Kidaier went to her school on the day Baghdad fell to coalition forces and
took the framed portrait of Hussein from the wall behind her desk. She had
her 18 teachers do the same. Without giving orders, she encouraged everyne
to say ''Salaam aleikum'' -- Arabic for ''may peace be upon you'' -- instead
of the references to president and party when the teachers entered class.

Most profoundly, perhaps, she asked the students to rip out the photos of
Hussein in every textbook. ''The teachers couldn't go through all the books;
it would take too much time,'' she said. ''But we don't need all these

Morning assembly now is devoted to reassuring the students that everything
will be all right. Kidaier says she tells her charges -- 350 girls on
Wednesday, an enrollment that is increasing daily toward the full enrollment
of 479 -- that ''we have been through a war, a war that was necessary to
change this bad regime that destroyed our country for 35 years.''

She is not unconcerned about the possibility Hussein might try to come back,
because she sees in the continuing gunfire and lawlessness on city streets
an effort by ''followers of the ex-regime . . . to spread terror and
disorder so they can say, `Look, it would have been better with Saddam.' ''

Feelings about Hussein, among children and adults, are complex. Standing in
front of Kidaier's desk, her 4-year-old grandson, Mohammed, suggests to a
visitor, ''Let's tear the picture of Father Saddam.'' Why does he want to
tear the photo of the man he calls father? ''Because,'' Mohammed says
immediately, ''we don't love him.''

ABC News, from The Associated Press, 17th May

BAGHDAD, Iraq: A former top official of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard
and No. 10 on the coalition's most-wanted list surrendered to coalition
forces in Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military said.

Gen. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti who is also a cousin of Saddam
gave himself up Saturday morning, U.S. Central Command said in a statement
issued from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Mustafa spent almost his entire career in the Republican Guard. His brother
is married to Saddam's youngest daughter, Hala.

"The number 10 on the blacklist has been captured," Maj. Gen. William
Webster, a top U.S. military official in Iraq, said at a news conference

Sultan was the second official on the coalition's Top 55 wanted list to be
taken into custody in recent days. On Thursday, Adilabdillah Mahdi al-Duri
al-Tikriti was taken into custody early Thursday in ad-Dawr, the military
said in a statement.

Al-Duri, No. 52 on the most-wanted list, was Baath Party regional command
chairman for the Dhi Qar district near Tikrit, the statement said.

To ensure loyalty, Saddam surrounded himself with fellow members of his
al-Tikriti clan, all from his hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq.


by Ed Vulliamy in Nasiriya
The Observer, 18th May

His eyes are like stone, but his smile is a ready one, his handshake is
firm. This is the face and greeting of the man who arrested and interrogated
The Observer' s correspondent Farzad Bazoft, so starting a process that
would send the journalist to the gallows in March 1990. His name is Kadem
Askar. Back then he was a colonel in Saddam Hussein's intelligence service.

Now, tracked down 13 years after Bazoft's barbaric execution, Askar admits
that he knew the 31-year-old reporter was innocent of the charge of
espionage for which he was hanged - and claims Bazoft was murdered on the
orders of Saddam Hussein himself.

Askar was himself welcomed into Saddam's presence at least three times
during his career in Iraq's intelligence agency. But he says he tried -
half-heartedly - to defy the Iraqi dictator over the murder of Bazoft.

This is what Askar said at his home in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriyah
last week: 'Bazoft was not a spy. He was obviously innocent. He was not a
spy, and from my interrogation I could tell he was not, that he was simply
chasing a story. And I submitted my report saying that.

'But,' said Askar, grinding a row of prayer beads in his fist as he sat by
the light of a paraffin lamp in his front room, 'the order came down from
Saddam Hussein himself: that Bazoft was a spy for the Israelis and British.
Once Saddam took that position, there was nothing I could do to help this
young man. Yes, it went all the way to the top, to Saddam himself. Bazoft
was a foreigner - both English and Iranian - and that made this an important
case for Saddam.'

The Observer 's road to Askar this time around - in a cruel echo of Bazoft's
steps - was a curious one. The family of Askar's first wife, in Baghdad, was
located. She was a former actress and television presenter on Basra TV, who
removed herself from the public glare when word came that Uday Hussein,
Saddam's sadistically lecherous son, had noticed and desired her.

Once an address for her estranged husband was discovered, The Observer
offered a lift to Askar's son, Ali, by way of reuniting him with his father
after the disruption of war.

Ali accepted and, a few days later, was waiting with packed bag, complete
with the pictures of Britney Spears and Celine Dion he takes everywhere. The
road wound south, littered with its deadly debris, to his father's home in

This time The Observer entered Askar's presence not through the door of an
interrogation room at Abu Graib jail, on the outskirts of Baghdad, but
through the evening light and humid heat and into his home. Instead of the
harsh light, the interrogator's desk and plastic chair that would have
greeted Bazoft, there is the lamplight and hot, sweet tea.

Askar was not aware he was speaking to a reporter and photographer - let
alone from Bazoft's newspaper - although by the end of the conversation he
may have guessed his visitors were likely to be from the press.

Notes of his remarks were taken immediately after they were translated, and
confirmed at a gathering, including the Arabic translator, by all three of
Askar's guests after the visit.

First, there is an introduction to his daughter who, in fluent English,
discusses her studies of Beowulf, Chaucer and the Romantic poets, Coleridge
being a favourite.

We move on to Askar's relief that Saddam's regime has gone. Askar is a Shia
Muslim from this town in the heartland of Iraq's persecuted religious

He writes poetry, he says, 'about love and gentle things'. He is now without
work or income. Despite his studies at the Academy of Arts in Baghdad, his
father, he claims, forced him into military service in 1969. 'To be an
artist was to be a beggar under Saddam,' he says.

In 1975, Askar the soldier spotted 'an opportunity to rise' and transferred
to the intelligence service, reaching the rank of colonel by the time Bazoft
returned in September 1989 to the country he had previously visited several

Bazoft left London with a group of colleagues to join an Iraqi
government-organised convoy to cover Kurdish elections and rebuilding after
the Iran-Iraq war. But, on the day he departed, newspapers in Britain
reported a different story: an explosion at the Iraqi military facility of
al-Iksandria, in which 700 people were reported killed. The Iraqis said only
17 lives had been lost.

Bazoft called his editor and agreed to investigate the story. Along with a
team from ITN, he tried to give the Iraqi security forces the slip; the ITN
team was stopped, Bazoft got through.

He worked diligently and professionally - perhaps too much so. He took
photographs of the installation and collected soil samples to provide
evidence supporting his research.

At the Mansur Melia and other hotels in Baghdad, Bazoft would work the
casino to continue his questioning - sources now tell The Observer - asking
military personnel at the tables just what they knew. 'He was reported by
the hotel security,' says Askar. He sent his agents to arrest Bazoft, who
was charged with being a spy for the Israeli Mossad and British

Now Askar takes up the story, of how Bazoft was brought before him at the
infamous Abu Graib jail, which has been the end of the line for thousands of
Saddam's victims. 'Bazoft's hotel room was searched for some things I'd
expect to find, but we did not find them,' says Askar.

'However, he had done some stupid things. There were 34 pictures on a film
of 36, all of military installations - a dangerous thing to do. But I could
see clearly from examining the film he had shot that Bazoft was not a spy.
No spy would take such pictures - it was obvious he was just trying to get a
story. The things he shot were of no use to anyone; nowhere near as much use
as what could have been got from any satellite picture.

'I interrogated Bazoft for a day,' recalls Askar. 'He was not tortured, but
yes, he was beaten. Even though it made no difference to the outcome, it
would have helped some people to get a confession; it would have helped
their careers to have a piece of paper to give to Saddam to prove his point.

'But we could not get such a confession. Bazoft said nothing in answer to
our questions. He had shouted a bit when he was arrested, saying he was
nothing to do with any intelligence service, but he did not appear afraid.
In answer to our questions, he said only "I am not a spy", and nothing
more'. [Bazoft did later make a televised 'confession', by which time Askar
was off the case.]

Askar wrote his report, he claims, affirming Bazoft was not guilty of
espionage. The report has not been recovered. Askar entered into a Faustian
bargain with his superiors, to escape his moral dilemma about his future as
a member of the elite.

He explains: 'They were strange times in our intelligence service. These had
been the years of the Iran-Iraq war and our service was in close contact
with Mossad and the CIA. That is something I cannot talk about. But I can
say that, as a Shia Muslim, and because of what I had been doing, I was not
in favour with the intelligence command.

'Bazoft was of course not the only one accused of spying,' says Askar.
'There were thousands of them. If the intelligence saw anything strange or
wanted people out of the way, they called them a spy. Agents were paid by
the number of people they arrested, maybe two million dinars ($1,250) for a

'And this,' he continues, 'was especially the case for Iranians living in
Iraq. They and the Iraqi Shias were easy picking. Since I am from the Shia,
they were always watching what I was doing.

'But this was my job, to interrogate people whom I knew were innocent. I
said so often in my reports. This was why I was out of favour and they were
willing for me to leave the intelligence service - because I had written
reports on many Iranians and Iraqi Shias saying I knew they were innocent. I
had tried to help them, but there was nothing I could do, and I wanted to
get out.'

He secured his exit, because of the Bazoft case. Soon after the
interrogation, he says: 'I knew Saddam Hussein was taking a direct and
personal interest in the case. There was nothing I could have done to help

'I had very good contacts in the military, and they were my protection. I
was told by these same friends that, if I did not make objections in the
Bazoft case, then I could get out of the intelligence service and back to
the military.

'I was also told that if I did press on Bazoft's innocence, they would not
be able to protect me any further. So I submitted my report and left it at
that. I joined the military soon after, and even then I was watched,
everywhere I went.' The Bazoft case was handed over to members of Saddam's
'kinsfolk', says Askar, meaning the inner sanctum of clansmen from Tikrit,
Saddam's bastion home town.

The rest of the story is well documented - how, despite international
pressure, Bazoft was taken to the gallows on 15 March, 1990, and hanged
after being sentenced to death for spying by a 'revolutionary court' the
previous weekend.

Bazoft was last seen during a half-hour visit by Robin Kealy, consul general
at the British Embassy. Bazoft thought Kealy had come to tell him he was to
be released. Instead Kealy was obliged to tell him he had come to say his
last farewell. He reported the condemned man to be 'hollow-eyed and subdued'
as he passed on a written message and verbal farewells to his family,
friends and colleagues, before being delivered to the hangman.

Askar now lives in the ruins of his career, amid the ruins of his home town.
He left the military in 1996 to take a mid-ranking job in the oil-for-food
programme. That, too, collapsed along with the Saddam regime.

Nasiriyah has exchanged the terror of tyranny for another tribulation. It
was among the communities pummelled most thoroughly by the Americans as they
surged north, with some 800 of its citizens being killed. The site of the
heart of the ancient kingdom of Sumer, six millennia ago, Nasiriyah is now a
desert shanty of disease and poverty, where children beg for water.

'Is the life of Farzad Bazoft on your consience, colonel?' The former
interrogator drops his prayer beads on the floor beside the armchair. 'I'm
an old man now and a poor man. I don't want to be in a bad situation over
this case. But I have bad feelings about it now, yes. These things hurt me,
as a human being, with children. I wanted to leave the intelligence; it is
very hard to leave the intelligence. But I knew this man was innocent, and I
feel bad there was nothing I could do to help him.'

by Charlotte Edwardes
Gulf News, from Daily Telegraph, 18th May

A senior British army officer has admitted he is "80 per cent certain" that
General Ali Hassan Al Majid, known as Chemical Ali, survived last month's
dawn raid in Basra despite repeated assertions by coalition forces that he
had been killed.

The army has claimed Al Majid, who oversaw the gas attacks on Kurds in
Halabjah, as a vital scalp. As one of Saddam Hussain's most brutal henchmen,
he had a stranglehold over Basra, Iraq's second biggest city.

Last week, however, as scepticism grew that the claims were part of a
propaganda battle, an army spokesman admitted: "There is no hard evidence
that he is dead; there is no body. I am 80 per cent sure that Chemical Ali
survived the attack and is still alive.

"At the time, we had intelligence that he was in the house. Since then, we
have had strong reports of sightings, two of them from former members of the
Iraqi army."

Another military official also described the intelligence that prompted the
coalition attack as "ropey".

The army's U-turn on Al Majid's fate is to be reflected upon in the official
history of the Iraq conflict. Major Peter Caddick-Adams, who was the
official Nato historian in Bosnia from 1996 to 1997, said: "I won't be
saying that he was killed because I have to be absolutely accurate in my

His investigations, based on interviews with senior army and intelligence
officers, led him to believe that Al Majid either escaped the raid on April
5, or was not in the house when six missiles razed it to the ground, killing
23 civilians in neighbouring homes.

Major Caddick-Adams argued that the announcement of Al Majid's death -
however premature - was vital in helping bring about the fall of Basra, a
key military objective. He said: "It would have been easier if he was killed
but the fact that local people thought he was dead, even if only for a few
hours, was enough to undermine his psychological grip on the city and allow
the army to move in.

"It was the turning point in the campaign for Basra. It served the military
in the long term because the important point was how you subdue a community.
Politicians might be concerned by the detail of whether he was killed or not
but the military aim was to ensure his credibility was undermined.

"In that respect it doesn't matter how you make Chemical Ali irrelevant - if
you kill, injure or just undermine him. We set out to kill him and ended up
making him irrelevant."

The senior military official said: "Whether or not Chemical Ali was killed,
it showed the ability and willingness on behalf of coalition forces to
remove the head of the Baath Party in this area without having to commit

"Fighting when the regime still had control would have been a very different
thing. The bombing broke the grip he had over the city and in the long term
facilitated the British taking the city."

Al Majid's former neighbours in Basra said last week they had always been
sceptical of the British army's claims to be "99 per cent sure" of his
death. Dr Akram Hamoodi, 47, a senior surgeon at the city's Taalimi
hospital, lost 10 members of his family in the strikes, which were called
seven hours after the army received intelligence that Al Majid was in the

Dr Hamoodi, whose three brothers have British citizenship and live in
Manchester, said that he was sure the house next door was not occupied. "We
knew Al Majid was not there," he said.

"Everyone in this country knows who Chemical Ali is. He is a man with the
blood of our countrymen on his hands. If we had seen anything suspicious we
would have left our house immediately.

"The army hasn't even been to check the rubble for Chemical Ali's body, they
just came to take a few photographs and left. No bodies have been removed.
The house was empty. We had been so excited to hear that the coalition
troops were coming. We have never been involved with the Baath Party. We
stayed away from politics and we hated the regime.

"But what has the British army achieved? They say Chemical Ali is in Baghdad
and we are the ones who are suffering."

Major Caddick-Adams said that he hoped Iraqis would be brave enough to come
forward with information about Al Majid. "Hopefully, in six months' time, or
whenever he is finally caught, it will be because people are confident
enough to come forward if they see traces of his presence.

"It might not be the people protecting him now or his relatives, but perhaps
the neighbours or someone along the chain will alert the authorities of his

Gulf Daily News (The Voice of Bahrain), 19th May

BAGHDAD: A famous Iraqi singer who used to glorify deposed president Saddam
Hussein was assassinated by armed men in his Baghdad home, neighbours said

"I saw three people driving in a pickup truck around the neighbourhood on
Saturday. One of them later came to the gate of the garden where Daoud Al
Qaissi was standing and started talking to him," Samir Doush said.

"He was joined by an accomplice who fired at Al Qaissi's head. The bullet
pierced through the glass of the house," he said, adding that the three then
sped away.

Al Qaissi, who was in his fifties, headed the union of Iraqi artists, and
had mobilised singers, poets, actors and painters during the US-led war on
Iraq to sing the praises of the Baath regime and the army.

After the war, "we advised him to leave the house, but he refused, saying he
would die some day anyway, whether here or somewhere else," Doush said.

In another incident demonstrating the lawlessness into which Baghdad has
descended, the deputy dean of the science faculty at Baghdad's Mustansiriyah
University was recently shot dead by students, a Kurdish official said.

"Falah Dulaimi was shot dead because he harassed female students," said Adel
Murad of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

A US official confirmed the murder but gave no details about its

by Scott Wilson
Washington Post, 20th May

BAGHDAD, May 19 -- Iraqis have begun tracking down and killing former
members of the ruling Baath Party, doubtful that the United States intends
to adequately punish the mid level government functionaries who they say
tormented them for three decades.

The assassinations appear to have picked up since the United States issued a
decree last Friday that prohibits senior Baath Party officials from holding
positions in Iraq's postwar government. A senior U.S. official said the
order was intended to "drive a stake through [the Baath Party's] heart," but
many Iraqis who continue to see party officials walking free believe it did
not go far enough.

The number of former Baath Party officials killed since the war ended is
difficult to pin down in a city of 5 million people with only two
functioning police stations, no recordkeeping and a destroyed government.
Drawing on anecdotal evidence, however, former exile groups and Iraqis
familiar with some of the killings say it could reach several hundred in
Baghdad alone.

Many of the killings have been carried out in the slum formerly known as
Saddam City, a neighborhood on the eastern edge of the capital largely
inhabited by Shiite Muslims, they say. Revenge killings on a smaller scale
have been reported in the cities of Najaf, Karbala and Basra in the
Shiite-dominated center and south of the country, where a bloody rebellion
was put down in 1991 by the Sunni-controlled Baath government.

At least three former Baathists have been killed over the past two days in
just three of the former Saddam City's 80 sectors, residents said. Residents
of the neighborhood, since renamed Sadr City for a Shiite cleric
assassinated by the government in 1999, said the killings have increased in
recent days partly out of a sense of discouragement that the United States
is not doing more to punish members of the old order under then-President
Saddam Hussein.

The killers appear to be working from lists looted from Iraq's bombed-out
security service buildings, which kept records on informants and victims
alike. But others are simply killing Baathist icons or irksome party
officials identified with the Hussein government. The singer Daoud Qais,
known for his odes to Hussein, was shot dead on Saturday. So was the
president of the Iraqi Artists Union.

"We want the Americans to kill them, but we don't think they are going to,"
said Muntathar Mohammed, a 40-year-old unemployed Sadr City resident. "Why
can Americans kill anyone they want? Why can't we? I will kill Baathists
myself. This is my right."


The Mohsin Mosque is the focal point for Sadr City's Jamila district, and
the Shiite cleric Sayd Hasan Naji is one of its most influential leaders.
Closed by Hussein, the mosque opened its doors for the first time in four
years the day U.S. troops arrived. During a midday prayer today, Naji
implored several dozen worshipers and the community beyond through minaret
loudspeakers to "stop these hostilities."

"I'm going to give you these lectures every day," said Naji, who wears the
black turban signifying that he is a descendant of the prophet Muhammad. "If
you do not follow the law of Islam, you are not a Muslim."

The message at the mosque, however, was different last Friday when a
visiting cleric from Najaf told worshipers that they should allow Baath
Party members only a certain a period of time to leave office voluntarily.
"If not, then we should kill them," Ali Nasir, 30, who sells aluminum on
Sadr City's street, remembered of Sheik Kadhum Ubadi's sermon.

A Baath Party official was gunned down two days ago near the traffic circle
where Nasir spoke, as part of what Nasir said was an effort by "some people
to pursue these Baathists until they are dead." The same day, a party
official was shot dead outside a gas station several blocks from the traffic
circle, according to residents, and the next day the principal of nearby
Tenmya Elementary School was killed outside his home, also in daylight.

"We don't know what the Americans will do with them," Nasir said of the
Baathists. "The Americans don't show us the ones they have captured on TV,
so we don't really know anything. This worries us."

Residents here say the people doing the killing are working from Baath Party
membership lists and security documents that include information about
neighborhood informants. Much of this material has been filtering out of the
abandoned ministries and security buildings in the weeks after the war,
coming into the hands of a prisoners' rights group, political parties and
U.S. officials.

Others have been among the Baath Party's legion of small tyrants, which is
how students and teachers described Falah Dulaimi. He was the assistant dean
of the Mustansirya University's college of sciences. Students shot him as he
walked to his campus office on the morning of May 10.

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