The secret Iraq Files

WikiLeaks

http://wikileaks.org/

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports ('The Iraq War Logs'), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a 'SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivalent population size.

 

WikiLeaks releases secret Iraq file
Al Jazeera accesses 400,000 secret US military documents, which reveal the inside story of the Iraq war.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 20:46 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/2010102217631317837.html

In the biggest leak of military secrets in history, WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, has released 400,000 secret US files detailing every aspect of the war in Iraq, copies of which have been obtained by Al Jazeera.

The sheer magnitude of data contained in the secret files reveals a graphic narrative of the war that goes far beyond any information about the conflict ever released into the public domain.

Reading the Documents

Using thousands of classified US military reports, Al Jazeera is now able to tell the inside story of a war which left thousands dead and a country fractured along sectarian lines.

Working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London for the past 10 weeks, Al Jazeera has analysed tens of thousands of documents, finding facts the US has kept hidden from public scrutiny.

What has been uncovered often contradicts the official narrative of the conflict. For example, the leaked data shows that the US has been keeping records of Iraqi deaths and injuries throughout the war, despite public statements to the contrary.

The latest cache of files pertains to a period of six years – from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2009 – and shows that 109,000 people died during this time. Of those, a staggering 66,081 – two-thirds of the total – were civilians.

The figures are much higher than previously estimated and they will inevitably lead to an upward revision of the overall death toll of the conflict.

As a result of the information contained in the war logs, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) – an organisation that kept records of the number of people killed – is about to raise its death toll estimates by 15,000: to 122,000 from 107,000.

The new material throws light on the day-to-day horrors of the war. The military calls them SIGACTs – significant action reports – ground-level summaries of the events that punctuated the conflict: raids, searches, roadside bombings, arrests, and more. All of them are classified “secret”.

The reports reveal how torture was rampant and how ordinary civilians bore the brunt of the conflict.

The files record horrifying tales: of pregnant women being shot dead at checkpoints, of priests kidnapped and murdered, of Iraqi prison guards using electric drills to force their prisoners to confess.

Equally disturbing is the response of the military to the civilian deaths caused by its troops. Excessive use of force was routinely not investigated and the guilty were rarely brought to book.

We understand that lives could be put at risk with the publication of such sensitive data, so you'll notice we've redacted almost all the names that appear in these cables – the exception being very well-known figures, people like Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Our media partners have done the same.

But working alongside the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the UK's Channel 4 TV, Al Jazeera is clear that releasing the Iraq files – despite their secret nature – is vital to the public interest.

 

 

The Secret Iraq Files: The War
US turned blind eye to torture
Leaked documents on Iraq war contain thousands of allegations of abuse, but a Pentagon order told troops to ignore them.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 23:16 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/20101022161828428516.html

An alleged militant identified only as "DAT 326" was detained by the Iraqi army on July 7, 2006 at a checkpoint in the town of Tarmiya, north of Baghdad. When US forces interrogated him later that night, he described hours of brutal abuse at the hands of the Iraqi soldiers, an allegation apparently backed by the findings of a medical exam.

DAT 326 states he was told to lay down on his stomach with his hands behind his back, which is when the Iraqi soldiers allegedly stepped, jumped, urinated and spit on him.

[…] DAT 326 was evaluated and treated for his injuries at Cobra Clinic. Injuries include blurred vision, diminished hearing in left ear, bleeding in ears, bruising on forehead, neck, chest, back, shoulders, arms, hands, and thighs, cuts over the left eye and on the upper and lower lips, hemorrhaging eyes, blood in nasal cavities, and swollen hands/wrists.

Since the alleged torture was committed by Iraqi forces, the US quickly dropped the case: "Due to no allegation or evidence of US involvement, a US investigation is not being initiated," the report said.

A review of the leaked documents reveals more than 1,000 allegations of abuse committed by Iraqi security forces. Not all of them are credible, as some detainees showed no physical evidence of abuse, while others changed their stories during multiple interrogations.

But hundreds of them – like "DAT 326" – are supported by medical evidence and other corroboration. Those reports demonstrate a clear pattern of abuse and torture in Iraqi jails, one that a high-level Pentagon directive barred US forces from investigating.

"Only an initial report will be made"

The instruction not to investigate was handed down in fragmentary order (FRAGO) 242, first mentioned in a report filed on May 16, 2005.

Provided the initial report confirms US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted unless directed by HHQ.

The order is mentioned again in a report on June 19, which says that "only an initial report will be made for apparent [laws of armed combat] violations... not involving US forces." That initial report was often enough to establish that torture had taken place, and the results of interviews and medical examinations were reported in gruesome detail, like the July 2006 report about a detainee in Baghdad suspected of being a foreign fighter.

Any further investigation, however, required sanction from superiors and such approval was rarely given. Thus the US did little to address abuses by Iraqi soldiers and police. Hundreds of abuse reports conclude with the phrase, "the allegation is being forwarded to the [Iraqi army] commander for investigation".

The US state department, indeed, has repeatedly noted that the Iraqi government ignores reports of torture and abuse. "There was little indication that disciplinary action was taken against security forces accused of human rights abuses," the department wrote in its 2007 human rights report on Iraq.

That has slowly begun to change – in 2009, Iraq's interior ministry opened 55 investigations into human rights abuses – but the US state department's reporting shows that abuses reported to the Iraqi interior ministry were ignored for years.

Violating its obligations

International law did not require the US to investigate these allegations of Iraqi-on-Iraqi detainee abuse, because all of them were reported after June 30, 2004 – when Iraq once again became a “sovereign country”, according to the United Nations resolution 1546. The United States no longer directly controlled Iraq's security services, and thus, it was no longer legally obligated to police them.

One could argue, of course, that the decision to look the other way represents a clear moral failing – and a conscious decision to undermine US’ own stated goal of nation-building. The US has spent tens of millions of dollars to develop prisons, courts, and the “rule of law” in Iraq. But the leaked documents show that Iraq's security forces routinely violated the most basic rights of detainees in their custody, assaulting them, threatening their families, occasionally even raping or murdering them.

More importantly, many of the detainee abuse reports suggest that the US knowingly violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The convention – which the United States ratified in 1994 – forbids signatories from transferring a detainee to other countries "where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture".

The thousand-plus allegations of torture in Iraqi jails, many of them substantiated by medical evidence, clearly seem to constitute "substantial grounds" to believe that prisoners transferred to Iraqi custody could be tortured. Yet the US has transferred thousands of prisoners to Iraqi custody in recent years, including nearly 2,000 who were handed over to the Iraqis in July, 2010.

"Evidence of unchecked torture"

The abuses reported by detainees were often nearly identical to those used by the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein. Some detainees were whipped across the feet with heavy cables, an excruciatingly painful form of torture but one that leaves few marks on its victims. Others reported being hung from hooks attached to the ceiling, or receiving electrical shocks across their bodies.

1x detainee claims that he was seized from his house by IA in the Khalis area of the Diyala province. He was then held underground in bunkers for approximately 2 months around August 2005 and subjected to torture by members of the 2/5 IA. This alleged tortured [sic] included, among other things, the strappado stress position, whereby his hands were bound/shacked [sic] and he was suspended from the ceiling; the use of blunt objects (i.e. pipes) to beat him on the back and legs; and the use of electric drills to bore holes in his legs.

Sexual assault, or the threat there of, was a common tactic for interrogators. One detainee said he was sodomised with a water bottle; another, with a hose.

A number of reports describe apparent "torture rooms" in police stations and army installations across the country.

Evidence of unchecked torture was noted in the Iraqi police station in Husaybah, IZ. Large amounts of blood on the cell floor, a wire used for electric shock and a rubber hose were located in the holding cell.

US forces did occasionally act to stop abuses by Iraqi security forces: In August 2005, for example, an American army patrol stopped a group of Iraqi soldiers from punching a detainee in their custody.

Such intervention was more an exception rather than the rule. An August 2006 report describes Sergeant Andrew Spade, from the 300th Military Police company, who witnesses Iraqi police whipping and kicking detainees. But the army does nothing to remove them from the abusive officers: "Both [detainees] are still at Al Huryia police station," the report notes. [[173:060]] US forces too indulged in abuses. The most notorious of course was the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad.

However, the leaked Iraq reports document a number of smaller-scale abuses. In October 2006, for example, members of a Stryker battalion talked about detainee abuses committed by their unit, a report that was forwarded to a higher-level commander.

They said when persons were detained, the driver of the Stryker would call back to warn the soldiers that he was about to stop abruptly. The soldiers would hold on and watch as the detainee was propelled forward. PFC Palmer and unidentified SPC also explained how soldiers in the bank [sic] of the Stryker would take turns punching the detainees... on one occasion a Sunni detainee was extremely upset after the Stryker knowingly dropped the detainee off outside of a Shia mosque.

There are numerous other claims, of US troops allegedly beating detainees or threatening to kill their families.

Still, the vast majority of the allegations deal with abuse committed by Iraqi security forces – abuse that human rights groups allege continues to this day. Indeed, Amnesty International warned in September that detainees recently transferred to Iraqi custody – and others who could soon be handed over - "remain at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment".

 

US turned blind eye to torture
Leaked documents on Iraq war contain thousands of allegations of abuse, but a Pentagon order told troops to ignore them

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/20101022161828428516.html

 

An alleged militant identified only as "DAT 326" was detained by the Iraqi army on July 7, 2006 at a checkpoint in the town of Tarmiya, north of Baghdad. When US forces interrogated him later that night, he described hours of brutal abuse at the hands of the Iraqi soldiers, an allegation apparently backed by the findings of a medical exam.

DAT 326 states he was told to lay down on his stomach with his hands behind his back, which is when the Iraqi soldiers allegedly stepped, jumped, urinated and spit on him.

[…] DAT 326 was evaluated and treated for his injuries at Cobra Clinic. Injuries include blurred vision, diminished hearing in left ear, bleeding in ears, bruising on forehead, neck, chest, back, shoulders, arms, hands, and thighs, cuts over the left eye and on the upper and lower lips, hemorrhaging eyes, blood in nasal cavities, and swollen hands/wrists.

Since the alleged torture was committed by Iraqi forces, the US quickly dropped the case: "Due to no allegation or evidence of US involvement, a US investigation is not being initiated," the report said.

A review of the leaked documents reveals more than 1,000 allegations of abuse committed by Iraqi security forces. Not all of them are credible, as some detainees showed no physical evidence of abuse, while others changed their stories during multiple interrogations.

But hundreds of them – like "DAT 326" – are supported by medical evidence and other corroboration. Those reports demonstrate a clear pattern of abuse and torture in Iraqi jails, one that a high-level Pentagon directive barred US forces from investigating.

"Only an initial report will be made"

The instruction not to investigate was handed down in fragmentary order (FRAGO) 242, first mentioned in a report filed on May 16, 2005.

Provided the initial report confirms US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted unless directed by HHQ.

The order is mentioned again in a report on June 19, which says that "only an initial report will be made for apparent [laws of armed combat] violations... not involving US forces." That initial report was often enough to establish that torture had taken place, and the results of interviews and medical examinations were reported in gruesome detail, like the July 2006 report about a detainee in Baghdad suspected of being a foreign fighter.

Any further investigation, however, required sanction from superiors and such approval was rarely given. Thus the US did little to address abuses by Iraqi soldiers and police. Hundreds of abuse reports conclude with the phrase, "the allegation is being forwarded to the [Iraqi army] commander for investigation".

The US state department, indeed, has repeatedly noted that the Iraqi government ignores reports of torture and abuse. "There was little indication that disciplinary action was taken against security forces accused of human rights abuses," the department wrote in its 2007 human rights report on Iraq.

That has slowly begun to change – in 2009, Iraq's interior ministry opened 55 investigations into human rights abuses – but the US state department's reporting shows that abuses reported to the Iraqi interior ministry were ignored for years.

Violating its obligations

International law did not require the US to investigate these allegations of Iraqi-on-Iraqi detainee abuse, because all of them were reported after June 30, 2004 – when Iraq once again became a “sovereign country”, according to the United Nations resolution 1546. The United States no longer directly controlled Iraq's security services, and thus, it was no longer legally obligated to police them.

One could argue, of course, that the decision to look the other way represents a clear moral failing – and a conscious decision to undermine US’ own stated goal of nation-building. The US has spent tens of millions of dollars to develop prisons, courts, and the “rule of law” in Iraq. But the leaked documents show that Iraq's security forces routinely violated the most basic rights of detainees in their custody, assaulting them, threatening their families, occasionally even raping or murdering them.

More importantly, many of the detainee abuse reports suggest that the US knowingly violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The convention – which the United States ratified in 1994 – forbids signatories from transferring a detainee to other countries "where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture".

The thousand-plus allegations of torture in Iraqi jails, many of them substantiated by medical evidence, clearly seem to constitute "substantial grounds" to believe that prisoners transferred to Iraqi custody could be tortured. Yet the US has transferred thousands of prisoners to Iraqi custody in recent years, including nearly 2,000 who were handed over to the Iraqis in July, 2010.

"Evidence of unchecked torture"

The abuses reported by detainees were often nearly identical to those used by the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein. Some detainees were whipped across the feet with heavy cables, an excruciatingly painful form of torture but one that leaves few marks on its victims. Others reported being hung from hooks attached to the ceiling, or receiving electrical shocks across their bodies.

1x detainee claims that he was seized from his house by IA in the Khalis area of the Diyala province. He was then held underground in bunkers for approximately 2 months around August 2005 and subjected to torture by members of the 2/5 IA. This alleged tortured [sic] included, among other things, the strappado stress position, whereby his hands were bound/shacked [sic] and he was suspended from the ceiling; the use of blunt objects (i.e. pipes) to beat him on the back and legs; and the use of electric drills to bore holes in his legs.

Sexual assault, or the threat there of, was a common tactic for interrogators. One detainee said he was sodomised with a water bottle; another, with a hose.

A number of reports describe apparent "torture rooms" in police stations and army installations across the country.

Evidence of unchecked torture was noted in the Iraqi police station in Husaybah, IZ. Large amounts of blood on the cell floor, a wire used for electric shock and a rubber hose were located in the holding cell.

US forces did occasionally act to stop abuses by Iraqi security forces: In August 2005, for example, an American army patrol stopped a group of Iraqi soldiers from punching a detainee in their custody.

Such intervention was more an exception rather than the rule. An August 2006 report describes Sergeant Andrew Spade, from the 300th Military Police company, who witnesses Iraqi police whipping and kicking detainees. But the army does nothing to remove them from the abusive officers: "Both [detainees] are still at Al Huryia police station," the report notes. [[173:060]] US forces too indulged in abuses. The most notorious of course was the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad.

However, the leaked Iraq reports document a number of smaller-scale abuses. In October 2006, for example, members of a Stryker battalion talked about detainee abuses committed by their unit, a report that was forwarded to a higher-level commander.

They said when persons were detained, the driver of the Stryker would call back to warn the soldiers that he was about to stop abruptly. The soldiers would hold on and watch as the detainee was propelled forward. PFC Palmer and unidentified SPC also explained how soldiers in the bank [sic] of the Stryker would take turns punching the detainees... on one occasion a Sunni detainee was extremely upset after the Stryker knowingly dropped the detainee off outside of a Shia mosque.

There are numerous other claims, of US troops allegedly beating detainees or threatening to kill their families.

Still, the vast majority of the allegations deal with abuse committed by Iraqi security forces – abuse that human rights groups allege continues to this day. Indeed, Amnesty International warned in September that detainees recently transferred to Iraqi custody – and others who could soon be handed over - "remain at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment".

Civilians in the crossfire
680 civilians, including pregnant women and the mentally ill, killed for coming too close to checkpoints and patrols.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 21:46 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/2010102216241633174.html

In September 2007, an Iraqi in a car ventured too close to a US patrol in Baghdad. The soldiers honked their horns; when that didn't cause the car to turn away, one of the gunners fired a warning shot. The bullet - intended to harmlessly hit the pavement - instead hit a bystander.

Gunner fires one warning shot from his M4. The bullet ricochets and hits one local national (9 year old girl). Patrol stops traffic at the intersection.

Andrew Bacevich, a military historian and retired US army colonel, wrote in 2006 that "such mistakes have occurred routinely, with moral and political consequences that have been too long ignored." That assessment is borne out by the leaked reports, which describe almost 14,000 "escalation of force" incidents – the army's euphemism for often-violent altercations that occurred at checkpoints and near patrols.

About 680 civilians were killed in these incidents between 2004 and 2010, with more than 2,000 wounded.

"Mistakes were made"

The "escalation of force" concept is supposed to reduce violence, since it requires US troops to use an escalating series of non-lethal measures before applying deadly force.

In many cases, though, these "escalations" had unintended consequences. According to the reports, more than 300 civilians were injured by warning shots that ricocheted off the pavement or other surfaces. (It's impossible to know, of course, whether these incidents are reported honestly, or whether soldiers sometimes report a poorly-aimed warning shot as a "ricochet.")

In several incidents – none of them fatal – soldiers fired warning shots at deaf and nearly-blind men who could not see or hear their verbal warnings. Several mentally ill men were killed: In February 2005, for example, US soldiers shot a man in Mahmoudiya when he ran too close to an approaching convoy. They only later learned that he was mentally ill and often begged for food in the area near the convoy's route.

Other incidents ended with what the military itself called a disproportionate use of force. In September 2005, after going through an appropriate escalation, two soldiers from the 1-155th infantry opened fire on an approaching vehicle with M249 machine guns. Both poured 100 bullets into the car – five or six seconds of sustained fire from a gun capable of shooting 1,000 rounds per minute.

Relatives of those killed were later awarded $10,000 compensation from the US military, which found the soldiers violated their rules of engagement.

"Escalation of force"

The rules of engagement in Iraq require soldiers and marines to cycle through a range of escalating warnings for vehicles that behave erratically at checkpoints or venture too close to patrols.

  1. Verbal commands and hand signals to stop, plus other cues, like flashing lights and horns;

  2. Warning shots, generally fired in front of the vehicle;

  3. "Disabling shots," aimed first at the vehicle's engine block, and then at the driver.

At least a half-dozen incidents involved Iraqi men transporting their pregnant wives or family members to hospitals. A report narrates the incident in Ramadi in May 2005 that left two people wounded.

The engagement resulted in (1) male CWIA (urgent surgical, driver) and (1) female CWIA (front seat passenger). There was (1) pregnant female and her sister in the back seat of the vehicle with no injuries. The pregnant woman expressed that she was going into labour. At 0440D, the woman gave birth at the 1-503 in BAS at combat outpost. [[086:663]]

In another incident, in May 2006, a pregnant woman - Nahiba Jassim - was killed in a checkpoint shooting. She was being rushed to the maternity hospital in Samarra when the car was fired upon at a checkpoint; also killed was a cousin, Saliha Hassan.

One of the most striking things about the reports is the lack of followup: Only in rare cases do the units involved in the shootings update their reports with additional information about their targets.

Soldiers from the 2/12 Cavalry opened fire on a black BMW in Baghdad in July 2007 after the vehicle "failed to respond to hand and arm signals, green laser, paint ball gun, and warning shots".

The vehicle burst into flames after being shot with a .50 caliber machine gun. The report says that "ammunition [was] seen cooking off inside [the] vehicle," which would suggest that the car was carrying weapons (ordnance "cooks off" quickly when exposed to the heat of a fire).

But the passengers in the car were apparently a family – a man, a woman, and two children. No attempt is made to determine who the passengers were, or why their vehicle was seemingly loaded with ammunition: their remains are transported to a nearby hospital, and the file is closed.

Seven incidents per week

The number of reported incidents dropped sharply after 2007, from more than 3,500 to less than 1,600 in 2008. That was due, in part, to new rules intended to protect civilians – but also because Iraqi security forces, instead of Americans, had taken over an increasing number of checkpoints. "Escalation of force" incidents by Iraqi troops are not often reported by the US military.

Reading the Documents

 

Checkpoints were often the scene of deadly gun battles. One report, from August 2004, describes a shootout between Iraqi police and the Iraqi national guard at a checkpoint in Babil province.

At 1750D, an ING convoy coming from the Ad-Diwaniyah did not stop at an IPs CP at grid MA 455 958. The ING opened fire on the IPs. 3X IPs were WIA, though not seriously. The commander of the Al Hillah PS and 1BG commander went to the spot immediately. After a short negotiation the ING convoy left. Then the IPs fired a few bursts at the last vehicle of the convoy.

Dozens of other so-called "green-green" incidents – Iraqi forces attacking one another – are scattered throughout the reports. The altercations typically involve soldiers from different branches of Iraq's fragmented security services.

The reasons for the violence are often unclear. In February 2006, the Iraqi army stopped a vehicle carrying soldiers from the "public order brigades" (POB), a paramilitary force under the interior ministry. One of the POB soldiers was shot and killed; US forces investigating the shooting never did find out why.

Dozens of other reports document violent "escalations of force" between Iraqi security forces and the civilians they are supposed to protect. In July 2005, the Iraqi special police shot and killed an Iraqi pedestrian who did not stop at a checkpoint in Baghdad. They insisted that he was an attempted suicide bomber – until his family arrived and explained otherwise.

The LN family arrived and stated he is not AIF but mentally retarded. ISP [sic] still believed the IND was a suicide bomber. The family members moved forward to the LN and rolled him over exposing his abdomen. The LN had no suicide vest.

The US military started taking these incidents seriously in 2006, when General Peter Chiarelli - the then number-two military officer in Iraq - promised to investigate every one that resulted in casualties.

The reports also suggest that the US military understated the number of civilian casualties in "escalation of force" incidents. The US-based McClatchy newspaper group reported in July 2007 that the army said 429 Iraqi civilians were killed or wounded in the previous year. But the reports released by Wikileaks place that figure higher, at 567, a 32 per cent difference.

Similarly, in June 2006, Chiarelli claimed that checkpoint killings had been reduced to roughly one per week, down from seven per week a year prior.

The leaked reports, though, show that 73 civilians were killed in "escalation of force" incidents in the five months before Chiarelli made that claim. That means an average of 3.5 civilians were killed each week in those incidents - better than 2005's average, but more than three times worse than Chiarelli's claim.

And the incidents have continued, at a pace of at least one per week, through the end of 2009, when the documents released by Wikileaks terminate.

 

A snapshot of Al-Qaeda in Iraq

Kidnapping for ransom and the use of children as suicide bombers were common ploy of the group, leaked documents show.

Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 20:39 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/20101022164635810456.html

The leaked reports do not offer a complete picture of American intelligence on Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), since they do not include higher-level intelligence assessments or anything classified "top secret".

Still, they suggest that the army had a hit-or-miss understanding of the group, particularly in the early years of the conflict. Individual units received hundreds of reports of alleged AQI plots. Sometimes they were accurate: On August 12, 2006, for example, a source tells the US military that seven vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices will soon be used in Baghdad. Days later, a series of car bombings rocked the capital: a blast in Zafraniya neighbourhood killed 47 people on August 14 and 21 people were killed in three car bombings on August 16.

Other times, though, the quality of intelligence is quite suspect: Hundreds of threat reports describe often-outlandish plots to stage attacks against high-profile targets, both Iraqi and international.

A September 2005 report described a letter, allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a senior AQI leader, outlining a plot to storm the Abu Ghraib prison – "at an unspecified time on an unspecified day during Ramadan 2005" – and release prisoners.

50 to 100 rockets will be used to signal the beginning of the attack and the attack will continue with many rockets. The detainees held at Abu Ghurayb were to prepare for the attack (NFI)... attackers are prepared to sacrifice the lives of detainees in order for the attack to be a success as dying during Ramadan is seen as an honor.

The attack never happened, and a follow-up report from January 2006 has al-Zarqawi urging his followers to carry out the apparently-postponed operation "in the next few weeks".

Another September 2005 report has an "AQI affiliate" in the southern city of Basra plotting an attack against the British military, foreign oil companies, the international airport and the Iranian border. The attack never materialised. In October 2005, seven VBIEDs reportedly planned to target US military convoys in a synchronised attack outside Baghdad. The attack never took place. A 20-man AQI cell plotted to attack the Jordanian embassy in December 2005, it was reported. This never happened as well.

'Pipeline of fighters'

There are thousands of reports of "foreign fighters" detained by US troops, but it is often extremely difficult to determine their identities. Many were arrested carrying false passports, or no paperwork at all; US forces routinely guess their nationalities based on accent, dress and mannerisms. Thus, while a vast number of foreigners are detained by the US military, only a small fraction are positively identified as coming from one country or another.

A US creation, of sorts

"The question is, do we fight them over there, or do we fight them here? I choose to fight them over there." - General Tommy Franks, September 2, 2004

One of the stated rationales for the war was a desire to fight al-Qaeda "over there" – in Iraq – rather than "over here" – in the United States.

But the documents underscore a truth that has been known for years: AQI was not really "over there" until after the US invaded.

There are only a half-dozen references to al-Qaeda in 2004, most involving isolated arrests or intelligence tips in connection with Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish Sunni group with ties to al-Qaeda.

As for al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), it is not not mentioned as a distinct entity until July 2005. Its predecessors, notably Jama'at al-Tawhid w'al-Jihad (JTJ), began appearing roughly a year earlier – JTJ would later pledge allegiance to Osama bin Laden in an October 2004 letter.

A review of the documents – in which only the fighters with positive identification are counted – suggests, not surprisingly, that Syria and Saudi Arabia were the main sources of foreign fighters for the Sunni insurgency. In 2004, at least 20 Syrian fighters were either detained or killed in Iraq. That number jumps to 55 in 2005, and then begins to decrease: 43 in 2006, 34 in 2007 (including several "facilitators"), 12 in 2008, and five in 2009. (These numbers, again, are obviously an underestimate: The US National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper in 2006 that counted at least 66 Syrian foreign fighters in an eight-month period in 2005.)

Still, the pattern reflected in the documents mirrors statements from US military officers: They criticised Syria for years for allowing smugglers to operate a "pipeline" of foreign fighters into Iraq, but began praising Syria in early 2008 for better co-operation. Admiral Gregory Smith told reporters in early 2008 that the flow of foreign fighters from Syria had more than halved since early 2007.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq's neighbour to the south, was also the source of a significant number of foreign fighters – at least 58 of them were positively identified over the six-year period covered by the documents, plus seven high-level facilitators or financiers. More than 40 other fighters were also presumed to be Saudis, based on their accents or their names.

Fighters from Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and Algeria are also mentioned in the documents. And there are a handful of fighters from Western countries: several from the United Kingdom, at least two from Canada, and at least three Americans.

Recruiting children

But the "pipeline" began to dry up starting in mid-2007, as Iraq's neighbours tightened their border controls and AQI's ongoing brutality hurt its popularity in the Muslim world. As the flow of foreign fighters decreased, AQI became increasingly desperate in its recruiting. It first turned to women, as described in one May 2007 report.

AQIZ is using an unidentified female member to recruit other members to conduct suicide attacks on coalition forces and other unspecified targets. AQIZ is recruiting women because the perception of AQIZ is that women can pass coalition forces (CF) checkpoints with less scrutiny than men. Also, less background information exists on women for CF to investigate, so security interviews or screenings are less comprehensive.

The group's recruiting efforts were temporarily successful: Women staged eight suicide bombings in Iraq in 2007 and more than 15 in 2008, including one that killed 29 people at a football match in Diyala.

But the group apparently needed more recruits, and the leaked documents show the AQI regularly using children as suicide bombers – some as young as 11 years old – in late 2008 and 2009. AQI even allegedly set up dedicated cells of children and young men in their 20s, according to one report, which followed a May 2009 suicide bombing in Kirkuk carried out by a 14-year-old boy.

In recent weeks, there has also been increase [sic] reporting of an IN IRAQ'>AQI sub-group which called themselves the "Bird of Paradise." The most recent report stated that on or about 02MAY09, 15 SVEST bombers ranging from 14 to 25 years old were transported from Baghdad to Kirkuk to "increase Arab and Kurdish tensions."

AQI also took advantage of the mentally ill: In April 2008, the group used a "16-17-year-old male... who looked mentally retarded and had facial features of a person with Down syndrome" to carry out a suicide bombing at a funeral in Diyala.

Todays [sic] attack is a clear example of a known TTP seen in recent months. The use of a mentally handicapped individual to be a S-PBIED (suicide bomber) demonstrates the decline in AQIs ability to recruit members and, more specifically, people willing to be suicide bombers.

At least one other report describes a mentally ill person recruited by AQI.

Financial difficulties

Some of AQI's funding came from external sources, like Syria or wealthy donors in the Gulf. But it also raised a great deal of money inside Iraq.

Reading the Documents

 

Kidnapping for ransom was a common tactic. In February 2008, for example, AQI kidnapped Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, a Christian leader in Mosul. It was the second time he was abducted.

They will likely demand a large ransom for his release. Last time the Archbishop was kidnapped, the terrorists received $200,000 for a ransom. This time they will likely demand more. This shows that IN IRAQ'>AQI/ISI are running low on funds, and are resorting to drastic measures to get money. [[338:741]]

The group also relied on other forms of extortion. A September 2008 report from Mosul describes an army unit finding a half-burnt passenger bus. The owner of the bus said he had received phone calls from AQI, threatening he would "suffer the consequences" unless he paid the group $20,000. "It is assessed that the attack was intended to threaten and intimidate the driver into paying the money," the report concluded. [[371:088]]

Robbery, too, became an increasingly valuable source of revenue for the group, reports suggested. When an unknown group of gunmen stole $1.6m from the Iraqi oil office in Mosul in December 2008, the US military immediately pinned the blame on the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella group for several militant organisations.

Though there haven't been many reflections of financial difficulties recently, it is probable that this was ISI. The insurgency is always in need of money and despite reports of funding from UAE and Syria, the evidence from Homestead 22 indicates that Mosul provides money to ISI Iraq-wide.

That trend has continued to this day. Iraq has seen a number of mysterious robberies this year, many of them directed at gold markets or jewelers. The culprits are rarely caught.

The role of Awakening councils

Programme of Sunni militias was a key factor in Iraq's improved security, but also empowered dubious local strongmen.

Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 22:25 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/2010102216265823276.html

The Sons of Iraq (SoI) – a coalition of Sunni armed groups that sprang up to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in late 2005 and 2006 – was a key development for Iraq's security, and the leaked documents reflect their importance.

Dozens of reports describe SoI "engagements", when US units met with their leaders. These meetings sometimes yielded usable information: A June 2005 engagement, for example, led to a raid on an alleged improvised explosive device workshop in Tikrit.

The SoI went on to establish checkpoints and patrols in a number of cities and towns, a ground-level presence that many analysts credit with helping to improve security. Beginning in 2008, US forces began adding a new line of data to their reports - "nearest SoI checkpoint" - an indication of how widespread their presence was.

And an increasing number of reports in 2007 and 2008 describe AQI assassination attempts against SoI members - an indication of how threatening their presence was for the AQI.

Also known as Awakening Councils, the Sons of Iraq won extensive praise in the United States, where some officials and many commentators now speak favourably of trying to "export" the Awakening strategy to Afghanistan.

But while the leaked documents demonstrate the important role the Sons of Iraq played in improving Iraqi security, they also reveal the unpredictable results that come when the US meddles with complicated local power structures.

Exaggerating their own influence

The "Awakening programme" often empowered people of questionable character, to say the least.

Playing both sides

"Salim was a low level SoI leader who used his SoI affiliation to conceal insurgent activities. Salim is widely known to have been involved in numerous kidnappings, murders, and attacks against ISF and CF."

Read more »

In the documents, militia leaders are routinely accused of exploiting their positions for personal gain, taking advantage of their quasi-official status to stockpile weapons, extort money and have their rivals arrested. At least one of them, a Sons of Iraq leader from near Tikrit in Salah al-Din province, was accused of using his position as a shield against charges of sexual assault.

[REDACTED] has had multiple reports starting from when Bulldog first arrived into the AO. He is said to be responsible for the murder of innocent civilians, conducting insurgent activities under the guise of a SoI leader, extortion, and rape.

In April 2008, a Sons of Iraq leader reportedly placed an IED on a main road in Salah al-Din province; the bomb exploded, causing minor damage to a US army MRAP. US intelligence officials concluded that the Awakening leader probably planted the bomb, and several others, because he was denied a contract to secure the road.

Not all of the renegade Awakening leaders were motivated by money: A "low level" SoI leader captured in May 2009 was accused of "using his SoI affiliation to conceal insurgent activities", including kidnappings and murders.

Other groups simply tried to exaggerate their own importance in a bid to continue receiving funds and prestige from the government. In May 2008, for example, a Sons of Iraq group in Baghdad turned in a small cache of mortars. A US intelligence assessment concluded that the militia planted the cache itself.

This UXO is most likely an event created by the SoI to make the CF believe that they still [sic] active in the area. Due to the decrease of the enemy activity within OE Warrior the SoI will continue with their activities that consist of emplacing caches and UXO IOT look like they are essential for the stability and security of the muhallas. We can expect more caches turned in by the SoI in the near future.

A similar report came in early June, when an Awakening leader reported a magnetic IED hidden underneath his car, one of several such incidents in Baghdad in the summer of 2008. "Usually these are emplaced by SoI members intending to display their own importance to CF," the US army concluded.

"Disillusionment amongst the SoI"

Many of the more recent reports, those from late 2008 and 2009, also showcase the ongoing tension between the Iraqi government and the remnants of the Awakening groups.

Reading the Documents

 

The Iraqi government periodically arrested leaders of Awakening militias; the arrest of Adil al-Mashhadani, the former head of the militia in Fadhil (and currently awaiting execution in an Iraqi jail), is perhaps the best-known.

The leaked documents reveal that the Iraqi government detained at least six Awakening leaders on what seem to be very thin charges, like the top two officials in Buhritz, near Baquba.

The detainment of [REDACTED] will have detrimental effects on the transition of SoI to GOI control. The detainment of Abu Ali last month, which was the number 2 SoI in Buhritz, caused major disruptions as the SoI began to lose faith in their CF partners. Now that those relationships have been rebuilt, this arrest of the number 1 SoI in Buhritz will likely cause disillusionment amongst the SoI with more individuals losing faith that they will have a fair opportunity to transition and participate in upcoming elections.

This uneasy relationship continues to this day: The Washington Post reported last month that hundreds of police officers – formerly members of an Awakening militia – would be stripped of their ranks, a plan (since scrapped) that prompted allegations of sectarianism from Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening movement.

A similar decision in Diyala in June – the defence ministry refused to renew weapons permits for thousands of Awakening fighters – caused the militia to threaten an end to co-operation with the government.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has also attempted to exploit the tenuous financial position of many SoI members, according to the reports. The Iraqi government was supposed to find government jobs for all of the roughly 90,000 members of the Awakening militias. Exact numbers are hard to find. But the most recent estimates suggest that 52,000 fighters are still waiting for employment.

AQI has sought to exploit the continued unemployment of many SoI members, as mentioned in one April 2009 report: US forces received a report of men in black ski masks "handing out literature stating that the SOI and IP need to disband immediately or else."

With SoI in a partially bewildered state, due to their insufficient support by the GOI, AQI views this as a chance to exploit the financial straits of SoI members, giving them a chance for financial stability by joining AQI in their ongoing fight with CF.

Again, the report presages a present-day problem: The New York Times reported last week that a small number of Awakening members, frustrated with the government's inaction, seem to have rejoined AQI.

 

Syria's 'complicity'
Leaked files show foreign fighters crossed over into Iraq from Syria, sometimes with the help of Syrian border guards.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 20:38 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/20101022163951875931.html

An Iraqi border patrol unit in Anbar province came across a group of smugglers – what they were smuggling is unclear – near the Syrian border in May 2009. When they gave pursuit, the Iraqi soldiers found themselves drawn into a gun battle with their western neighbours.

5th division border guards chased some smugglers and exchanged gunfire. The smugglers returned back to Syrian territory and the Syrian forces supported them by using med and light weapons against the 5th division border guards.

In his recently-published memoirs, Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, claimed the Bush administration was close to invading Syria - in part because of its alleged support for the Iraqi militants. The leaked documents contain hundreds of references to Syria's role in Iraq, most of them suggesting a deep involvement with the armed groups.

Reading the Documents

 

As with the reports about Iran, an important caveat is in order: these reports only tell one side of the story, and a limited one at that; they lack higher-level analysis, and many of them are based on interviews with informants of often-questionable credibility.

Still, some of the reports are hard to contest, particularly those based on the first-hand observations of US and Iraqi army units. They show Syrian border guards were complicit in the smuggling of weapons and people across the border – and that they at times directly engaged the US and Iraqi forces.

Smuggling operations

Throughout much of the Iraq war, the Bush administration's chief complaint about Syria was that the authorities in Damascus failed to police its borders. That was at the top of the agenda when William Burns, the then-assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, travelled to Syria in September 2004 for a lengthy meeting with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. "This visit was driven by one thing and one thing only: Iraq," Imad Moustapha, Syria's ambassador to the United States, said at the time.

Indeed, the WikiLeaks documents describe hundreds of "foreign fighters", including dozens of Syrian citizens, using the country's remote eastern desert as a transit point into Iraq. In June 2005, Iraqi border police engaged a group of men who crossed the border illegally to recover a disabled vehicle – which was "believed to be used in smuggling [operations]." The police came under fire – not from the men recovering the vehicle, but from Syrian border guards.

At 1900D, 3ACR reported SAF on the Syrian/Iraqi border at (38S GA104 336). 1x Syrian truck broke down on the Iraqi border, and Syrian individuals crossed the border to recover the disabled truck. Iraqi border police fired on individuals trying to recover the truck (vehicle was believed to be used in smuggling OPNs). Syrian military dismounts returned fire (SAX, 3x RPG's) at IPB. 1X BRDM was on site, but did not engage. The Syrians recovered the disabled vehicle back into Syria. MTF.

Three years later, in May 2008, a group of militants opened fire on an Iraqi border police unit, kidnapped two officers, and stole one of their vehicles. They later came under fire from Iraqi police while driving the vehicle across the border into Syria; "During the incident, Syrian border guards were also firing on the IBP and allowed the vehicle to enter Syria," a US army report noted.

Some of the reports, though, are hard to believe: A May 2005 cable claims that a Syrian "recruiter" for al-Qaeda in Iraq recently returned to Iraq with "50 Syrian suicide bombers/terrorists". Neither was the information sourced, nor was the report followed by a wave of suicide bombings.

"Rigging... suicide vests"

There are also more serious allegations in the leaked documents: that Syrian soldiers fired on their Iraqi counterparts to help smugglers cross the border, and that Syrian intelligence officers helped militants develop new bomb-making techniques. But these reports are often poorly-sourced, and their accuracy is hard to gauge.

In November 2006, for example, an intelligence report on a new wave of planned suicide bombings blamed the Syrian (and Iranian) government for helping to orchestrate them.

Syrian intelligence has been rigging surplus US military uniforms, to include winter coats, as suicide vest improvised explosive devices (SVIED). These uniforms are destined to be used in Iraq, no further information (NFI).

The source of the information is not identified, though. US forces also do not try to assess the validity of the information. Still, the use of suicide vests did become an increasingly popular tactic for al-Qaeda in Iraq in late 2006 and 2007; by early 2008, the US military was calling it the group's "favoured tactic".

A similar report describes Iraqi border patrol officers detaining a group of alleged insurgents:

After tactical questioning by the IBDF, the individuals claimed to be from various Syrian defence forces, ranging from Syrian army conscripts to Syrian border police. The 4X UIM were not in uniform and produced only CIV ID.

But, as the report notes, the men did not carry any Syrian military identification, and there is no follow-up reporting on the incident.

 

Iran's 'involvement'
US soldiers report Iranian intelligence officers manning checkpoints, building bombs and smuggling weapons.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2010 22:26 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/secretiraqfiles/2010/10/20101022163128812181.html

On October 2005, US troops warned that Adnan al-Dulaymi, an Iraqi Sunni politician, would be the target of an assassination attempt. The hit would reportedly be carried out by "an Iranian trained insurgent cell" - led by a member of Iran's intelligence services.

The cell will be led by an Iranian intelligence officer named Dhia ((LNU),NFI. Dhia will travel into Iraq (IZ) with an Iraqi passport with the notation that he is mute. (Source comment: the reason for this notation is that Dhia speaks broken Arabic and would easily be detected as an Iranian.)

Iran's role in Iraq, like Syria's, is the subject of hundreds of reports, many of which suggest Tehran was heavily involved in equipping and aiding Shia groups. These reports only tell one side of the story, of course, and a limited one at that; they lack higher-level analysis, and many of them are based on interviews with informants of often-questionable credibility.

Reading the Documents

 

That being said, the reports allege extensive links between Iran and the militant groups. The militants often targeted Sunni politicians, like al-Dulaymi, but other attacks were apparently intended to undermine confidence in the government.

A March 2007 report blames "Iranian intelligence agents" within Jaysh Al-Mahdi (JAM) and the Badr Corps of "influencing attacks on ministry officials in Iraq"; their next target was to be the minister of industry, who survived an earlier assassination attempt in Baghdad in 2006. "[This] is a media campaign designed by Iranian intelligence officers, to show the world, and especially the Arab world, that the Baghdad security plan has failed to bring security to Baghdad," the US military concluded.

What is striking about the Iranian reports – separating them from the reports about Syria – is the apparent degree of integration between Iran's security services and various militia groups operating in Iraq, particularly the Badr Corps and the JAM. In February 2007, a US army unit got word of a checkpoint manned jointly by JAM members and Iranian intelligence.

There are four UI JAM members with AK-47 assault rifles controlling the checkpoint. Along with the four JAM members, are two UI Iranian intelligence officers, members of Badr Corp. NFI. These two Badr Corp members are in charge of the checkpoint.

Two years later, a US cavalry unit received reports that an Iranian intelligence agent was taking more aggressive action – staging rocket attacks against the international zone in Baghdad, again acting as a member of the Badr Corps.

On the evening of 04MAY09, C/5-73 CAV received reports from 3 different informatns [sic] that [REDACTED] was an Iranian intelligence agent and was responsible for the three 107MM rocket attacks from the Palestine street into the IX in the last 11 days... during initial questioning the detainee admitted to being a member of Badr Corp.

One report recounted the arrest of Hajji Juwad, an alleged Shia militia leader, who targeted Sunni volunteers patrolling neighbourhoods as part of the "Concerned Local Citizens" (CLC) programme.

Hajji Juwad is a historic Shia extremist militia leader associated with multiple attacks on coalition forces, including two catastrophic attacks on COP Callahan. Reporting indicates that religious edicts are being issued by Shia extremists residing in Iran to continue to attempt to dismantle the CLC organisation.

An equally serious set of allegations deals with Iran's alleged role in funneling weapons to armed Shia groups in Iraq.

Soldiers of Heaven

Iran's role in transporting conventional weapons across the border is made to seem serious, as literally hundreds of reports describe JAM, the Badr Corps, and other groups receiving arms from Iranian agents. In October 2005, for example, US forces receive what they assess to be a "credible" report that "Iranian intelligence operatives" are distributing machine guns, rocket launchers and other arms to groups near the southern city of Basra.

The US has also long blamed Iran for some of the deadliest unconventional attacks in Iraq, particularly the growth in popularity of explosively formed penetrators (EFP), an especially lethal form of IED.

It is difficult to determine from these documents whether those allegations are true – though in a few cases, they offer reason to doubt the official US line. In February 2007, for example, the US claimed that a weapons cache uncovered in Hillah in Babil province showed evidence of Iranian involvement. "The new evidence includes infrared sensors, electronic triggering devices and information about plastic explosives used in bombs that the Americans say lead back in Iran."

But the actual report from that incident suggests a more complicated picture:

Warrior 42 reports they have found books, some of which are "Soldiers of Heaven" books who were individuals involved in Najaf.

[…] The first area identified contained 10x 107MM Iranian Haseb rockets and 10X J-1 PD rocket fuzes in a false compartment under the bed of a red Chevy 1988 pickup truck. The second area contained 1X fully assembled 3-array EFP; 1X PIR and telmetry device; 2X military style compases; 1X Garmin GPS; 1X sextant; and 1X 1-gallon oil jug filled with unknown explo [sic]

The rockets were indeed Iranian-made, but the "Soldiers of Heaven" literature was never publicly reported before. That was a Shia group which fought a number of pitched battles with US forces in 2006 and 2007; a staunchly nationalist group with no known ties to Iran.

On the other hand, a raid the next week in Diyala uncovered a sizable cache of Iranian-made weapons, including EFP-making materials.

Notably, though, there appear to be no reports of US forces detaining Iranians with a direct involvement in building EFPs. There is a great deal of guilt by association – caches of Iranian weapons often show up at "EFP-making sites" - but no reports of direct involvement.

 

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