Thursday, October 28, 2010
As a consequence of the WikiLeaks document release, US support for Iraqi death squads is finally being exposed to the light of day.
A visit from the unit to any neighbourhood was sure to bring trouble – as it it did for Omar Salem Shehab on 25 June that year.
We were at home that night, Shehab recalled this week. We were three brothers sleeping above my ice-cream shop. We were woken by soldiers entering our house by force. They came with Americans. They said we were wanted and produced a document. The Americans took our pictures, then the soldiers we now knew were the Wolf Brigade took us to the Seventh Division camp [of the Iraqi army].
Shehab and his brothers lived in Dora, in Baghdad's south, a lethal enclave of the city that was rapidly deteriorating into chaos. Like most of Dora's residents, they are Sunni Muslims.
The trio were at the army camp for a day, then transferred to Baghdad's main prison, known as Tsferrat.
We were tortured all the time, he said. We were never investigated, just tortured. The commander of the Wolf Brigade, Abu al-Walid was one of the torturers. My brother had a kidney problem and they continued to torture him without giving him medicine.
He died after a month and the doctor wrote 'kidney failure' as a cause of death, despite his body being covered with torture marks. When he died, they let me and my other brother out. I later learned that another man we had met in prison, Khalid Hussein, had also died.
Torture and death seemed synonymous with the almost exclusively Shia unit, which was tasked with rooting out Sunni insurgents from post-Saddam Iraq. As security unravelled across the country, they were often seen alongside US forces, particularly in Baghdad and Mosul.