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Muslims around the world have been calling for the release of the Christian Peacemaker Team members ever since they were taken hostage in Iraq.  Even Muslims in Canadian detention centers have issued pleas for their release!  That's amazing.  Even more amazing, the captors are completely ignoring these appeals.  

I was holding out hope the kidnappers were merely criminal idiots who figured an American, a Briton and two Canadians were the local equivalent of a winning lottery ticket.  Unfortunately, a recent story in the Salt Lake Tribune points to something much darker......

The recent article was an interview with a former roommate of Tom Fox's who just returned from Iraq.   According to the article:

Christian Peacemaker members, including some of those who have been taken captive, had been investigating abuses at the hands of special police and military groups months before the Nov. 15 discovery of 173 detainees in the basement of an Interior Ministry building. American soldiers who liberated the prisoners said some appeared to have been tortured by their Iraqi government captors.

That's putting it mildly. The BBC report was particularly gruesome.

The "special police and military groups" they are referring to are really death squads.  I realize in Iraq everyone is a death squad.  But I'm talking good old-fashioned CIA trained "paramilitary" groups, straight out of the Casey playbook.   In the past year, the U.S. military has helped build up the commandos under guidance from James Steele, a former Army Special Forces officer who led U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador in the 1980s. Salvadoran paramilitary units trained by Steele's team were accused of a pattern of atrocities.

Apparently, now there is nothing "para" about these newly minted death squads. These are fully equipped commando units.  The most widely known is called the "Wolf Brigade," although there are others called "Lion",Scorpion", "Snake", etc.  Some Iraqis accuse the Wolf Brigade of targeting Palestinian refugees in Iraq, using torture to extract confessions from prisoners, and slaying at least six Sunni clerics.  

The more I look into this, the more convinced I am these guys are not being held by al Qaeda jihadists, or even plain criminals.  I think they are being held by people trying to cover up the death squad activities. That might explain the preposterous charge that Tom Fox(US), Norman Kember(UK), James Loney(CAN), or Harmeet Sooden (CAN)are spies. 

Unfortunately, that is exactly the same story that Yasser Salihee was working on before he was killed in June.   He was killed by an American sniper at a newly erected checkpoint near his home in Baghdad. His final story was published posthumously a couple of days later.  

The fact that people are openly talking about the "Salvador Option" as a way to handle an insurgency only increases the likelihood of this scenario.  Apparently, the current thinking in the administration is that approach "worked" in El Salvador... so it will probably work here.  I guess I shouldn't be shocked.  We all know what happened the last time the US military confronted an insurgency where Negroponte was in charge.   It was no coincidence that Honduras left the "coalition of the willing" the same day he set up shop in Baghdad.  

Speaking of the administration...they have been oddly silent.  Canada's Prime Minister has issued a public statement.  Britain's Foreign Secretary has repeatedly said they were ready to hear what the captors had to say.  Bush answered a question about it and said "we don't pay ransom" for hostages.  End of discussion.  You would think he might be making hay out of the fact that these are Christians being held by fanatical jihadists.  You might think Fox et al would be giving this a little bit of coverage if only to promote the "Attack on Christmas" merchandise they are hawking.   Talk about the dog that didn't bark.

Since this began, everyone's efforts have been focused on getting Muslims to plead for the release of the hostages because everyone assumed these were Islamic jihadists.  That might have been a head fake. If the kidnappers are related to death squads, then the folks in the Green Zone have more control over these guys than all the Sunni clerics in the world. If that's true, I think the more coverage this gets, the more likely the hostages will survive past Thursday.  If you think support for the war is low now... imagine how low it will go if it turned out that a US trained death squad slaughtered a bunch of Christian peacemakers.

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Note: I am reposting this for higher visibility at the request of most people who left comments earlier today. If you agree this is important, please recommend.

Originally posted to 8ackgr0und N015e on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:22 AM PST.

Poll

US/UK trained death squads are:

0%0 votes
3%2 votes
0%0 votes
19%10 votes
9%5 votes
61%32 votes
5%3 votes

| 52 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a topic we SHALL revisit (none)
    time and time again.  Because it is all too clear that these 'death squads' are roaming unfettered in Iraq, and probably Syria.  I believe, altho have read no support of it but I am suspicous of anything that helps Bush, that the killing of the Syria opposition leader that precipitated Syria pulling out of Lebanon to be the act of one of these squads.

    the killing of the clerics and other killings -- just seems to add choas to the situation.  Why?  In my mind, Bush would be better served with Iraq a dictatorship to keep warring factions apart, but who would give oil interests full access to their oil, and give the military full use of the permanent base there.  Then Israel would have the American military next door to assist them in, well, whatever.  Lots of reasons Bush wants an army right in the middle of this mess.  And a dictator responsive to Cheney et al would be great -- for them.

    Just thinking out loud I guess, but these killings are riling up the masses to be sure.  As is the torture.  

  •  Sign the petition; Prayer Vigil in Dallas tonight (none)
    From an e-mail I received from a Pax Christi member:

    "The four hostages are: Tom Fox, 54, Clearbrook, Virginia, Norman Kember, 74, London, James Loney, 41, Toronto, Canada, Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a Canadian. More information on them are found at the Christian Peacemaker Teams website: www.cpt.org.

    Instructions: Please Sign this petition <http://ga3.org/campaign/releasehostages/wgsk8bx205bjbbm?>

    Tell-A-Friend:
    Time is truly of the essence - please alert your friends and colleagues on this.  Thanks!
    Tell-a-Friend! <http://ga3.org/campaign/releasehostages/forward/wgsk8bx205bjbbm?> "

    There is an interdenomoinational prayer vigil tonight in Dallas: "A special Taize Prayer Service will be held for the hostages mentioned below At Midway Hills Christian Church on Wednesday, Dec. 7th, at 6:30-7:15 PM.  The address is 11001 Midway Road, just north of Royal Lane in North Dallas.

    Peace Menonite and Midway Hills ministers are preparing the service.  If you cannot attend, please add your prayers to theirs at the service time if you can.  Thanks."

    Stop the politicization of crime!

    by tom 47 on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:45:15 AM PST

  •  Sign the petition; Dallas prayer vigil tonight (none)
    From an e-mail I received from a Pax Christi member:

    "The four hostages are: Tom Fox, 54, Clearbrook, Virginia, Norman Kember, 74, London, James Loney, 41, Toronto, Canada, Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a Canadian. More information on them are found at the Christian Peacemaker Teams website: www.cpt.org.

    Instructions: Please Sign this petition <http://ga3.org/campaign/releasehostages/wgsk8bx205bjbbm?>

    Tell-A-Friend:
    Time is truly of the essence - please alert your friends and colleagues on this.  Thanks!
    Tell-a-Friend! <http://ga3.org/campaign/releasehostages/forward/wgsk8bx205bjbbm?> "

    There is an interdenomoinational prayer vigil tonight in Dallas: "A special Taize Prayer Service will be held for the hostages mentioned below At Midway Hills Christian Church on Wednesday, Dec. 7th, at 6:30-7:15 PM.  The address is 11001 Midway Road, just north of Royal Lane in North Dallas.

    Peace Menonite and Midway Hills ministers are preparing the service.  If you cannot attend, please add your prayers to theirs at the service time if you can.  Thanks."

    Stop the politicization of crime!

    by tom 47 on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:45:59 AM PST

  •  Goss and Negroponte play book (4.00)
    Porter Goss got rich running death squad training camps in Florida and Belize.  He still owns a fair chunk of real estate in both places, with convenient airstrips.

    Negroponte is famous for being an unindicted coconspirator in the Honduran death squads and Iran/Contra scandals.  Negroponte was also involved with death squads in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, if I recall correctly.

    These people are evil and they are powerful.  They trained a militia for Chalabi that was airlifted into Baghdad with Ahmad.  Guess what?  They started the looting of the capital and then started assassinating any local that complained, substantially contributing the rapid escalation of chaos in Baghdad at the start of the occupation.

    I agree that the Christians are almost certainly held by our guys or guys who were trained by our guys.  It was a classic psy-ops head-fake by Bushco to remind us that the bad guys don't play fair when they were under attack for the black sites.  Unfortunately, it's only going to make things worse for everyone.

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing - after they have exhausted all other possibilities." Winston Churchill

    by LondonYank on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:47:10 AM PST

  •  Recommended (4.00)
    Unnoticed in the hoohah about Bush's recent pr about his "strategy" is that the strategy was laid out early in the year:  Death Squads.  What on earth do you think Negroponte was up to?

    You can ignore it all you want, but the Rethugs have announced their strategy, chortled about getting away with it in El Salvador and Honduras, and are doing it in plain sight in Iraq.  It's a strategy they have been refining since the Pinochet coup.

    I'm guessing they'll be willing to target Americans in other countries, too - not just Iraq.  They had no qualms about cutting out the brains of those 4 Jesuits in El Salvador, or raping American nuns in Nicaragua.

    Freedom is still on the March!

  •  Did anyone remember Sgrena? (4.00)
    When we were talking about the use of WP in Fallujah, I remember hearing somebody mention that Guilliena Sgrena was kidnapped while investigating the use of a naplam-like weapon by American forces in the November battle, which would eventually turn out to be White Phosphorous.

    I believe she has said that, while in captivity, her captors had told her that they where keeping her to prevent her reporting on what happened in Fallujah. The question was then raised that if these where Sunni militants or Iraqi insurgents, wouldn't they want to let her know and tell people in Arab countries and the world about what the Americans were using in Fallujah and what it did to people?

    Amateurs talk strategery, professionals talk logistics

    by Young Freud on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 07:02:03 AM PST

  •  This mirrors closely the kind of stuff done (none)
    by Bush I/Reagan era CIA trained/supervised Guatemalen and Salvadoran  government secret forces and paramilitaries to US catholic nuns Diana Ortiz and others.

    Who benefits from

    1. kidnapping peace activists who have been in country since 2002, some of whom were just about to leave country (like Marla Ruzicka and Sgrena Guilliana) and return to the West to talk about what they have seen?  
    2. blaming the kidanpping  on "subhuman" Iraqi insurgents, the Legendary Zarqawi, and shadowy  'enemies of American Freedom' in Iraq?
    3. shutting down a source of unembedded independent information of the situation on the ground in Iraq?
    4.  the event occuring and being publicized at this specific time when Bush is being harshly challenged on his  motives and execution of the Iraq War/Occupation ?  
    •  I can't believe US involvement here... (none)
      Why would the Bushies want to turn Iraq into a terrorist-infested hellhole?  Wouldn't that scare off all his corporate buddies hoping to make big bucks there?

      Could these terrorists be sponsored by the Saudis (who want to prevent a stable, democratic Iraq), by the Chinese (who want to weaken the US by forcing it to prolong its expensive occupation of Iraq), or by Mossad (to keep Iraq on its knees so that it will never again have the capacity to threaten Israel)?

      Thoughts?

  •  El Salvador-Iraq comparisons are silly (none)
    Lots of people here hate what the United States did in Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, but, back then, the Soviet Union was clearly a serious military threat to the United States, and it was making every possible effort to present itself as such. The Soviet Union was trying to support jerks who espouses its political philosophy in the backyard of the United States. Some reasonable people in Central America supported what the United States was doing.

    Iraq, on the other hand, is not in the backyard of the United States, and, even if someone eventually proves that Hussein sometimes worked with Al Qaeda, Hussein does not seem to have made any systematic, Soviet Union-style effort to undermine the United States throughout the world. At worst, he just wanted the United States to stop meddling in the Middle East and listen better to the Palestinians.

    In Iraq, the United States has absolutely no clear-cut strategic objective of any kind. We're clearly not there to make any kind of sane effort to fight terrorism. It's not even clear that we're there to make a serious effort to steal Iraqi oil. We're just there because we went there on a whim and now aren't sure how to get out without provoking a full-blown civil war. Except that we've already provoked a full-blown civil war. (Of course, it could be that we're there because the space aliens who've taken over the Bush administration are using the war there to hide their spaceship refueling center, or something.)

    There are shades of gray involved with the question of how to get the United States out of Iraq in a way that will be as easy as possible on regular Iraqis. There may be shades of charcoal gray involved with questions about whether and how we should be stealing Iraqi oil. But, really, in general, there are no shades of gray when it comes to the stupidity of being there or the utter idiotic depravity of our interrogation operations there.

    Anyone involved with torturing Iraqis today or making serious efforts to keep the United States in Iraq any longer than necessary to minimize the risk of genocide involving ordinary Iraqis (including the Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, etc.) is at least 10 times more evil than comparable involved with the war against the Contras. They are far more comparable to the Nazis in, say, Holland. Or, at best, maybe the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

    •  Central America was a not about Soviet Union (none)
      Although it was sold as such by Reagan and Bush I to the American people.

      It was a struggle of the elite landowners and US fruit/sugar/coffee corporations to suppress/destroy grassroots "emminent domain" land redistribution efforts led by democratically supported socialist leaders. And much like in Iraq today, the CIA was a tool and servant to corporate and elite interests.

       

      •  But the Soviet openly promoted its (none)
        efforts to meddle in Central America.

        The Soviet Union to get in our face and provoke us to be cowboys.

        Should we have responded? Should we have tortured nuns? Clearly not. But at least, even according to your version of the story, Reagan was responding to some kind of charcoal gray interest. (Keeping commodity prices low.) And he was responding to a rebellion of what to him and the magnates appeared to be uppity people.

        In the Iraq, we're there because the dice fell on "invade." We don't even have a good, effective evil empire reason to be in Iraq.

  •  Anybody who talks about this will get a 4 from me (none)
    Posted a diary on Tuesday about how quiet we've all become about death squads that are trained by the CIA.  Given that this all got worse after Negroponte went to Iraq as "ambassador", it is El Salvador all over again.

    Mike Niman wrote a piece in ArtVoice on these death squads.  I asked him by email if he got any traction on this article.  He replied "not much....only in Buffalo".  We'll at least people in Buffalo are still thinking.

    I'll recommend any diary that keeps this issue front and center.  We waste 300+ comments chewing on Howard Dean's obvious conclusion that the war is unwinnable and then when confronted with evidence that we are culpable in executing people, there is silence.

    So BN, it is not all noise.  In Honduras, in Nicaragua, in Salvador, those who point out that we are contributing to death squads, have been executed.  Why should Iraq be any different?

    Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Joseph Welch, Army-McCarthy Hearings

    by captainlaser on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 05:50:57 PM PST

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