Iraqi Government Colluding with Death Squads?

Factions within the Iraqi government may be supporting anti-gay death squads.

Some officials in Iraq’s government are colluding with death squads responsible for the “sexual cleansing” of GLBT Iraqis, activist Ali Hili told the Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights conference in London last month. “Iraqi LGBTs are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias,” said Hili, an Iraqi refugee and founder of the London-based group Iraqi LGBT.

“Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq. This is happening with the collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government. What is happening today in Iraq is one of the most organized and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of the world,” Hili said.

Last November, five members of Iraqi LGBT reportedly were abducted in Baghdad and, Hili believes, killed. “For the previous few months these activists had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, and relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London,” he said. “I have no doubt that they were targeted not just because they were gay, but also to stop them exposing to the outside world the antigay pogrom that is happening in Iraq today.”

On Jan. 18, a United Nations Assistance Mission report validated many of Hili’s assertions. “Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them,” the report said. “There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq. At least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from Shaab area in the first week of December [sic] by one of the main militias. The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared in the same area after a few days. [We were] also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be ‘tried,’ ‘sentenced’ to death and then executed,” the report said.


Michael Demmons alerted me to the story. I don’t know whether to take the fact that the only sources carrying this story are aimed at the LGBT audience as an indication that this is a very thin story being seized upon and flogged by a receptive audience or that nobody else considers this newsworthy.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.