Friday, March 12, 2010

Peter Moore, the League of Righteous, etc.

The survivor of Britain's longest hostage crisis in 20 years revealed yesterday how he endured months of torture during his ordeal in Iraq.
Peter Moore told The Times that he was hung by his arms from a door as a punishment and doused in water by his captors. Speaking in detail for the first time since his release, he also told of a series of mock executions.
At one point, guards put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, simultaneously firing a real round from another weapon. "I remember thinking: I'm dead. It's not that bad. It's not that painful. And then, reality check, hold on I'm handcuffed and still blindfolded. I can hear people laughing."

The above is from Deborah Haynes' "Torture, terror and table tennis: Iraq hostage Peter Moore tells of ordeal" (Times of London). May 29, 2007, in Baghdad, Peter Moore and four other British citizens were kidnapped by the League of Righteous. Of the other four, three corpses were turned over: Jason Crewswell, Jason Swindelhurst and Alec Maclachlan. The whereabouts and status of Alan McMenemy are unknown. The British government has stated their belief that he is dead while the family continues to hold out hope. The kidnapping is mentioned in the State Dept's just released "2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices:"

Five British men (a computer expert and four bodyguards) were kidnapped in 2007. Peter Moore, the computer expert, was released unharmed on December 30, while the bodies of three of the four bodyguards were returned on June 19 and September 3 to the United Kingdom. The whereabouts of the fifth man remained unknown at year's end. Fifteen Americans, four South Africans, four Russian diplomats, and one Japanese citizen who were abducted since 2003 remained missing. There was no further information on the 2007 kidnapping of the Ministry of Science and Technology acting undersecretary, Samir Salim al-Attar.

The report is so modest, leaving out how the US secured the release of Peter Moore. Let's go to the June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

Allison Martin (Daily Mirror) notes, "Mr Moore said the Iraqi police were involved in his kidnapping and revealed he encountered another hostage but did not see his face." That's based on the interview he gave to Andy Davies at Channel 4 News. Moore's spoken to Davies and Haynes thus far. In his interview with Davies, Peter Moore rejects the British government's claim that the families had to avoid the press as part of a demand by the kidnappers. (As we've noted here before, that was to save face for the British government. It was not about the victims or their families and it's really sad that the Iraq Inquiry has grazed that topic but never confronted it directly.) Davies report (link has text and video) also includes info about the League of Righteous:

In a separate interview, Iraq MP and hostage negotiator Sami al-Askari suggests British officials met with Qais al-Khazaali, whose Asaib al-Haq group is believed to have seized the five Britons at the interior ministry in May 2007.

Al-Askari tells Channel 4 News that it became clear the hostage takers were from the Qais al-Khazaali's League of Righteous (Asaib al-Haq) when he asked to meet them in October 2008.

"There was a group. The American and British. A British army general and a representative of the American ambassador."

He goes on: "We usually have a meeting regarding the reconciliation – with all the groups, not just the Shia groups. And I have regular meeting with them.

"In one of those meetings they said, 'Yesterday we were with Qais al-Khazaali in the Cropper camp. And he asked to see you. I asked him why. He said, 'He got something to tell you, to tell the prime minister.'

"I said, 'OK, I have to check with the prime minister.' So I went to the Prime Minister al-Maliki. I told him Qais al-Khazaali asked to see me. 'What you say?' He said, 'OK. Go see him and see what he got.'

"So we all went. I mean, the General Hughes and the American diplomat. And there was Qais al-Khazaali and his brother, Laith."

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:


We'll note World Can't Wait's "U.S. Troops Out of Iraq and Afghanistan NOW!:"

World Can’t Wait leaflet for March 20 protests: PDF version here
The U.S is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has more combat troops – 166,000, with 30,000 more on the way – than during the Bush years. President Obama is using drones (pilotless aircraft) on raids into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of civilians. All of these attacks are against international law, because none of these countries attacked the U.S.
IRAQ: As U.S. troops switch from “combat” to “permanent occupation,” one million Iraqis are dead, 4 million are refugees. George Bush invaded Iraq seven years ago on the basis of outrageous lies: that Iraq was responsible for 9-11, and had “weapons of mass destruction.” There was never any evidence of either, but over a million people died as Iraqi civil society, schools, sewers, water, and electricity were destroyed by occupation. President Obama still has 98,000 US troops there, though most people voted for him because they thought he would end the war.
AFGHANISTAN: the world’s most powerful military is destroying one of its poorest countries, a horror for civilians. Afghanistan is not any more just than the Iraq war. It’s a war of terror on the people, now being expanded by Obama. During the current and largest US offensive of the war, which is going to spread over the next year, innocent civilians are being killed by U.S./NATO bombs, driven from their homes, and innocent Afghans have been imprisoned and tortured in secret US detention centers.
Is the U.S. there to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda? The Afghan people say they want the U.S. to leave because its actions – such as killing innocents – drive more people to join the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban, and because the U.S. allies with the bullying Northern Alliance warlords.
Is the U.S. there to “save the women” from the Taliban? The Karzai government of Afghanistan, only in power because of U.S. guns, passed a law last year governing the Shi’a population (10-15% of the total) giving men the right to starve their wives if they refuse their husband’s demands for sex. Maternal death rates (from childbirth) are nearly the highest in the world, eight years after the U.S. took over.
VISIBLE PROTEST – marching to stop the crimes of our government – makes a difference because we show what we won’t accept, and we learn what we’re up against. These wars are not legitimate. People around the world must see that we don’t support them, and know that to us, American lives are not more important than their own.
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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends