Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another Day, Another Sorrow

NOTE: I used initials to protect the identity of people quoted or mentioned in this post.

Two years ago, my friend and fellow Iraqi blogger Al-Baghdadi packed his bags and moved his family to Jordan. The least he knew at the time is that sadness will follow him to Jordan. Last June, thugs roaming streets of Baghdad kidnapped and later killed his younger brother. Yet, that wasn't the end of his sorrows.

Yesterday morning, I received an e-mail from Al-Baghdadi informing me of more bad news:

Dear Fayrouz

I really regret and sorry to tell with all the pain in the world squeezing my heart, that I had lost my older brother S., age 52, a week ago in Baghdad. He got 5 kids, the youngest is 3 yrs old.

The same old story of my youngest brother M. played again. He was kidnapped from outside his house, hit on the head by the gun handle (the gang uses Glock guns that are distributed by the U.S. to the Iraqi police forces), put him in his car and run away with him in front of all people at 9am at one of the most troublesome districts of Baghdad, called Al-Shaab where the Shiite are dominant.

A day after they contacted the family asking for a ransom, we tried our utmost to collect and pay whatever they may ask. But we failed. Three days later his body was found at the Baghdad morgue, savagely tortured and killed in a way out of any humanity.

Yes, I am sorry to tell you that. And among all this, his oldest son O., age 19, called me saying, "Uncle, don'’t dare come back to Baghdad. Those gangs are waiting for you and expecting you to come."

Do you believe that? My older brother is killed and I can not attend his funeral?

This is what we got in the new Iraq. Now I got two widowed sisters-in-law and 9 orphans. You tell me what to do?

It's been only two months since he managed to collect and pay back the ransom of his young brother then they got him. And God knows how poor and peaceful they both were. They can never hurt anyone. Now they rest in peace and thanks to the new Iraq we got.

People in Baghdad say that many Iranian militiamen have been operating in Baghdad under the name "revenge squads." They are responsible for killing Sunnis. An average of 30-40 Sunnis are being killed each day in Baghdad. It's a genocide. It's a massacre.

Sorry to tell you this story but I thought you may need to know it.


After I received his e-mail, I asked him to send me as much details as he got from his family in Baghdad. He sent me back this reply:

Dear Fayrouz

Referring to what happened, all I can add is that those killers keep torturing their victims in a brutal way that no one can ever imagine, no one can dare look at their dead bodies and that means nothing but ill monsters had targeted them.

Other thing, my brother's son told me that they were more than 8 gangsters in two cars one car is very famous now in Baghdad. It's a model of Toyota sedan called "batta" in Iraqi [duck in English]. It's more expensive compared to other similar types. And, if you ask about the reason, the answer is very shocking. It got a wider trunk, which can hold a kidnapped man in it. The car is mainly used for kidnapping by Mehdi army and others.

Other thing I may add, a "Glock" hand gun that's been distributed by the U.S. to Iraqi police was in the hands of kidnappers. It was was so obvious and clear.

One may wonder how could they get hold of that type of weapon unless they are from the police itself?

The other thing is that they choose only the well-known Sunnis who have some religious commitment and keep praying at mosques. Otherwise, they got nothing to do with them.

I had sent a very good Shia friend to search for my brother during those three days. He searched day and night for him at Badr and Mehdi militia but in vain. After three days of continuous searching, he saw S. in his dream telling him, "Haji R., please stop searching for me. I am at the Baghdad morgue." The man swears he had never met him; but he described him very well from that dream.

Haji R. told me later that the last place he was sure that he might get a result was Husainiya Al-Mustafa in Ur suburb. As he got a positive reply from them after he told them that this man is his uncle. They asked him about his full name. When he told them, they said, "Yes, we got him and his SUV car too." In fact its not a Husainiya. It'’s kind of jail and torture center.

Yesterday, he called me saying that Almighty had revenged from the killers of S. and many other innocents. The U.S. Army had invaded and killed about 20 in that Husainiya and all Iraqis who had lost family members there [Means killed at that place by the militia] are celebrating this and saying in MSM messages that God had revenged to their loss.

I can assure you that between 30-40 men are being killed daily in Baghdad this way and mainly in Shia-dominated Al-Shaab suburb.

The last one who was kidnapped and died the same way was Haji H., age 65. He used to read the Holy Quran at mosques and was famous of his nice voice in Al-Shaab area. Such a poor and old man. After these incidents, he moved from Al-Shaab to the other side of the city, the Police Tunnel (Nafak Alshorta), where there are more Sunnis. But they targeted him there too. Five days ago, He was kidnapped in front of his house. When one of his sons followed them, they stopped and kidnapped him too. Another son followed them by his car. He told others by cell phone that he is chasing them on a fast speed. Finally he lost them at Ur suburb near that Husainiya.

The dad's body was found after he was killed. The family is still negotiating the release of the other son. They asked for a ransom. But everyone is sure he will end up dead as his dad.

That is all I got that's related to the case.


Two weeks ago, I posed a question on this blog asking, "When is it called a civil war?"

Few days later, former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi answered indirectly:

It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.

I doubt he reads my blog. But, it was a nice coincidence.

Now, I'm asking when is it called a genocide?

Probably many of you, Iraqis and non-Iraqis, think I'm overreacting lately. For once in my life, I'd rather look at the half-empty glass than be disappointed in the future.

The pro-war folks refuse to hear there were any mistakes made in Iraq. They refuse to acknowledge the facts on the ground. The anti-war folks continue their empty protests and call for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. As if the troops withdrawed, all of a sudden Iraqis will become a big loving family with a sincere commitment to bring justice to everyone. I find myself standing nowhere near any of those two groups. Yes, there are places in the center where people like myself stand. I've yet to find those people.

All I know is that we need to stop another Darfur, Rwanda or Kosovo before it even starts. I hope someone listens to my call before it's too late.

UPDATE Apr. 21, 2006

Iraqi journalist Firas Al-Atraqchi wrote an excellent article about kidnapping in Iraq on Al-Ahram Weekly. You can read here.

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