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 HeraldAllawi 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 TimesReport: 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.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mister says:

    I find that Eschaton has found several reports in Australian sources

    Did you miss the fact that the Washington Times has the story as well? The point is not how this will make Allawi appear to his supporters. The point is how this makes the US look for having backed this guy. We picked Hussein because he was a strongman type too, remember?

  2. James Joyner says:

    They didn’t have it at 12:14, when I posted. And all they have is a report that the Aussies reported it. It’s all one man’s reporting that’s getting echo chambered so far.

  3. Mister says:

    Fair enough, but the one man is a pretty credible source.

  4. capt joe says:

    The iraqi bloggers have been reporting rumors of Allawi cutting off hands, Allawi doing a variety of things. While distasteful to most of us, the iraqi populace trading in these other rumors remain approving ofthe actions detailed. It is hard to know whether this is true or part of a popular mythos on their leader. I think we need to wait and see. Especially, the anti-war bloggers need to wait and see. Especially after having to wipe all that Wilson off their shoes. 😉

  5. James Brown says:

    Let’s not bury our heads in the sand…we are talking about a man Time Magazine has called “saddam without a mustache”. A man that was an ex-Muhkabarat agent (Saddam’s ruthless secret service), and who later turned to be a CIA agent (and the CIA has a very dirty history in places like Chile, Nicaragua, and other places). This is also the man that DID carry a gun with him when he was a medical student, and who intimidated fellow classmates, according to another medical student in his class. This contradicts the assertions made by others in his administration that Mr. Allawi is somehow “above” having a gun with him.

    Then, the guy takes power, makes all these pronouncements about crushing, annihilating, and destroying the resistance, talks about martial laws, gives himself special powers of detention and searches, re-institutes the death penalty, and we are supposed to just say, “well….let’s just wait and see, it might just be a popular myth”.

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a damned duck…and this is one duck that has done his fair share of quacking and walking like a duck in his past. How much more before we realize that the U.S. placed him in power as a “plan-b” of a having a pliant strongman (ala Pinochet in Chile, Somoza in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, Duvalier in Haiti, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, etc.) when they realized that their plan to institute a Western neo-colony with a facade of democratic processes (what political scientists call Polyarchy) wasn’t going to happen with a raging resistance. I mean, it’s not like there hasn’t been a precedent for this. This has been the American imperial “modus operandi” since it began to dab in imperialist foreign policies after the Mexican and Spanish-American Wars. Invade, conquer, place a strongman who is either a CIA man (Manuel Noriega of Panama, anyone?) or a trainee of the School of the Americas. Why suddenly is the same scenario in Iraq (of Allawi being a U.S.-friendly ruthless dictator) not credible or plausible?

    Face it people…WMD’s were never there and democracy in Iraq (at least as the U.S. wanted) is a dream….time for Plan-B, a ruthless Saddam without a mustache who will make sure our access to Iraq’s oil and territory for military bases in the region is uninterrupted.

    But, to each their own illusion (or delusion, as I would call it).

  6. Wes Ulm says:

    Nice post James, and I concur. I started getting a nasty vibe about Allawi as soon as his history with the Mukhabarat and his cracking-the-whip rhetoric emerged onto the scene. Some Allawi supporter might offer up the excuse that since Iraq is violent and bloody, that Allawi has no choice but to act the strongman to seize the reins of power and hold them. Just one big stinking flatulent problem with this defense: Isn’t that precisely what the Bush Administration condemned Saddam for, in arguing for the “regime change” to get rid of him?

    Saddam was roundly vilified as being a bloodthirsty, capriciously cruel dictator who browbeated and intimidated opponents into submission via summary executions and arbitrary accumulations of power. Some realpolitikers were saying that Saddam was merely acting as the Hobbesian political circumstances of Iraq demanded (since Iraq itself was created in 1920 by British imperial fools who wanted to keep the country divided and conquered– didn’t work). The Bush Administration rejected this line and said that Saddam’s actions were unjustifiable. Now, when Allawi appears to be acting much like Saddam (or trying to), with the crackdowns and curfews and muffled speech and whatnot, now, he’s defended as merely “doing what’s necessary” to impose law and order on a strife-torn country. Why this obvious double standard? Obviously Saddam’s brutality was reprehensible– so why is it suddenly acceptable when Allawi does it? Allawi appears more and more to be a mini-Saddam, a Saddam Lite who, like Somoza and Trujillo, will be a son-of-a-bitch tinpot despot but “our son of a bitch.”

    Hopefully free and transparent elections will indeed be held, but if Allawi seizes power (either directly or via a sham election), then it’ll become evident that the US, UK, and other Coalition allies will have expended copious quantities of blood and treasure to merely replace one murderous dictator with another murderous dictator who, as you indicate, is more compliant with a few plutocrats’ objectives to place permanent military bases in Iraq and control its oil. The temptation will be enormous in many quarters to withdraw from Iraq and treat Allawi’s corrupt ascendancy as “good enough.” I don’t even want to imagine the cynicism that would ensue from that.