Friday, October 15, 2004

What do we do about this? It would be easy to go along, since we are worried about Iran interfering in Iraq. If we ignore any questions about evidence and due process and the Brigadier General, it will make it much harder to ask them later when he does something we don't like - or that moves constitutional democracy further away.

Neo-Baath v. the Shiites

Brig. Gen. Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, the head of the Iraqi secret police, has charged 27 employees in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad with espionage and sabotage. He blames them for the assassination of over a dozen members of the Iraqi secret police in the past month. He claims to have seized from "safehouses" Persian documents that show that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its militia, the Badr Corps, served as Iranian agents in helping with the assassinations.

SCIRI is represented in the caretaker government by Adil Abdul Mahdi, the Defense Minister, and the party has been an ally of convenience of the US against the Sadr Movement. The party was formed in Tehran by Iraqi exiles in 1982 and was close to Iranian hardliners. SCIRI officials vigorously denied Shahwani's charges on Thursday. They said that the neo-Baath network in the Allawi government is seeking to discredit Iraqis who fought against Saddam from Iran in the 1980s.


The two ex-Baath officials had reportedly ordered the secret police to raid "the office of Hizb Allah Movement in Baghdad and arrested some members, including the movement's general-secretary Hassan Al Sari, without any arrest warrant." [Thanks to Nicholas Blanford for information about HMI].

Complaints began surfacing about Shahwani in August. Iraqi Shiite leaders visiting London this summer contacted the Deccan Herald, a south Indian newspaper, among others, to express concern about the secret police chief:

' Despite earlier promises that no one in Iraq would be arrested without due process, Shahwani’s critics say he is using ex-criminals to round up suspects and hold them without charge in secret prisons.

“On the day the National Assembly was appointed three members were arrested, along with another 57 others, all this on the orders of Shahwani,” one prominent Iraqi visitor told Deccan Herald on condition he was not quoted by name.

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