Allawi Shooting Insurgents?
Via e-mail I find that Eschaton has found several reports in Australian sources that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi personally shot some accused insurgents.
Sydney Morning Herald – Allawi shot prisoners in cold blood: witnesses
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners – handcuffed and blindfolded – were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city’s south-western suburbs. They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they “deserved worse than death”.
The Prime Minister’s office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun. But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister’s personal security team watched in stunned silence.
A similar report:
Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) – Iraqi PM shot inmates, says witnesses
Two unnamed people, who are alleged to have witnessed the shootings, told Australian journalist Paul McGeough that Iyad Allawi allegedly shot the insurgents in a courtyard adjacent to a maximum security cell in Baghdad. Dr Allawi’s office has denied the claims. A written statement to Mr McGeough says that Dr Allawi has not visited the prison and does not carry a gun. But Mr McGeough stands by his claims.
While I disagree with the characterization at Eschaton and Rooftop Report that this incident–if actually true– makes Allawi tantamount to “another Saddam,” it’s certainly disturbing. Saddam tortured and killed innocent people; these people are mass murderers who are causing misery for average Iraqis. I have no problem with the execution of the insurgents; goodness knows they deserve it. But it’s customary to hold trials first once they’re in custody.
So far, this appears to be one reporter’s version of events based on alleged eyewitness accounts. Allawi, who hasn’t been shy about going after the insurgents and even imposing a form of martial law, denies the account. Certainly, in Arab culture, shooting mass murderers wouldn’t exactly hurt his standing.
McGeough offers some background assessment of Allawi in a separate piece, which has a rather sneering, op-ed tone. I don’t know anything about the man’s credentials as a journalist but I’m a bit suspicious of his motivations.
ABC Lateline – Iraqi PM executed six insurgents: witnesses
MAXINE McKEW: Paul McGeough, thanks for joining us. Paul, as you’ve also made clear in your article, Prime Minister Allawi has flatly denied this story. Why then is the Herald so confident about publishing it?
PAUL McGEOUGH, ‘SYDNEY MORNING HERALD’ AND ‘AGE’ FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well it’s a very contentious issue. What you have is two very solid eyewitness accounts of what happened at a police security complex in a south-west Baghdad suburb. They are very detailed. They were done separately.
Each witness is not aware that the other spoke. They were contacted through personal channels rather than through the many political, religious or military organisations working in Baghdad that might be trying to spin a tale.
The American press, sort of, has caught on to the story: UPI/Washington Times – Report: Allawi shot Iraqi suspects
Other bloggers covering this:
Takes vary, with most wanting to wait and see. Not surprisingly, those who support the war are more skeptical of the report than those who oppose it.
Update: As of 5:00 Eastern, the story hasn’t made GoogleNews or the front of the NYT or WaPo websites. They have updated with the Martha Stewart sentencing and the latest Tour de France news, however.
Update: Joe Katzman agrees that having people think he personally shoots insurgents is not necessarily a bad thing for Iraqi domestic consumption. It would obviously be much more problematic externally.