Monday, August 10, 2009

WWB: kidnapping

WHAT WAR BRINGS: kidnappings

This is a brief overview of who does the kidnapping, who is a victim of kidnapping, and what might be motivating this criminal activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, kidnapping is not a well documented event in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Sometimes we hear of the kidnapping, most of the time we don’t. Sometimes we hear of the outcome or possible motivations……..most of the time we don’t. Sometimes we know who did the kidnapping, most of the time we don’t. First, we have to establish that the US military, US contractors, the Iraqi government, al Qaeda, insurgents, common criminals and God-only-knows-who-else is involved in kidnapping. (I include civilians detained without charges or trials under the umbrella of “kidnapping victim”. The US military did a lot of that.)

In Iraq in the year 2006, kidnapping was widespread. Some are detained for a short period, some are never seen again.

Dozens abducted from Baghdad street

About 25 people have reportedly been released hours after being kidnapped off the street in a busy commercial district of Baghdad. Witnesses said police officers, shopkeepers and bystanders were among at least 30 people seized by armed men in military uniforms. Sunni and Shia Muslims were abducted, police said The kidnappers drove into the Sanak area of the capital in about 10 vehicles and began rounding up people from the shops and the street.

....... The Iraqi capital is plagued by daily kidnappings and in a similar case last month men in camouflage uniforms abducted dozens of staff and visitors from the higher education ministry.

The claim is made that it was easy to buy these uniforms, but I think it was also true that there were Iraqi police and Iraqi army actually doing some of these kidnappings. And it is not just in Iraq where men in military uniforms kidnap people. It happens in Afghanistan also.

Afghanistan's kidnapping industry

Six or seven men wearing military-style uniforms approached businessman Mohammed Easa and then pistol-whipped him. They dragged the money trader - who was by then barely conscious - into their vehicle and sped off. "When I woke up, I was tied up, and blindfolded," says Mr Easa, recalling his ordeal seven months ago. "They beat me and I thought any second I might die."

Mr Easa's kidnap is not an isolated incident - on average a businessman is kidnapped at least once a week in Afghanistan. According to the Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC), 173 businessmen have been kidnapped across the country in the last three years: a number of them have been killed.

In the stories below, there are allegations of foreign criminal collusion in the kidnappings. There are also allegations of Afghan government involvement, as in Iraq. At the very least, the Iraqi and Afghani government are unable to stop this growing epidemic.

Kidnap victims might be foreigners, such as this kidnapping of an American women in January 2008 in Kandahar.

And in Iraq, they might be foreigners who are long term residents of Iraq, such as Margaret Hassan.

She was kidnapped in the fall of 2004 and was shot dead in less than a month. This is one of the few cases where the kidnapper was arrested and tried in Baghdad’s Central Criminal Court. He was sentenced to life in prison. He claimed he was tortured into confessing to the crime. Another man was also convicted of this horrible crime.

Or just regular people:

Their mother, Nahida Jabbar, was kidnapped along with her sister a year and half ago during sectarian violence in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood while the two were visiting their own mother. Neither has been heard from since.

And kidnapping of young children is still going on in Iraq.

“On Sunday, Wassit police forces freed a three-year-old child from her kidnaper in Kut city,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

The operation has been carried out in light of intelligence tips, the source noted, adding that the kidnaper was a serviceman working in Basra city, who held the girl for ransom.

And here is another story of a child recently rescued in Iraq.

Khidir was just 6 years old when he was savagely ripped away from his family, kidnapped by al Qaeda operatives in Iraq. "They beat me with a shovel, they pulled my teeth out with pliers, they would go like this and pull it," said Khidir, now 8, demonstrating with his hands. "And they would make me work on the farm gathering carrots." What followed was even more horrific, an ordeal that would last for two years in captivity.

This child was rescued about six months ago, according to the CNN report. He was kidnapped because his father is a police officer in Iraq.

And kidnapping, and murdering the victims in Iraq, continues to this day.

MOSUL - Police found the body of a merchant with bullet wounds to the head and chest in western Mosul, police said, adding that the merchant was kidnapped a few days ago.

And here is a story of kidnapping and rape in Afghanistan, which is also quite common.

He pointed to two compounds of neighbors where pre-teen children had been abducted by police to be used for the local practice of "bachabazi," or sex with pre-pubescent boys.

"If the boys were out in the fields, the police would come and rape them," he said. "You can go to any police base and you will see these boys. They hold them until they are finished with them and then let the child go."

And who are the kidnappers? Well, they could be almost anyone, even the police. The majority are, undoubtedly, Iraqis and Afghan people. Over the last six years in Iraq, kidnapping was a profitable business. It was carried out by insurgents to get funding, and carried out by common criminals.

According to this report, it was very widespread in Iraq in 2006.

The photo caption for the above photo reads: An Iraqi woman holds a sign reading, "We demand Maliki's government to work hard in order to release our kidnapped children" during a protests in December 2006. Dozens of Baghdad residents are kidnapped almost daily, after leaving their houses, their offices or just finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. (AFP/File/Sabah Arar). I cannot imagine what these parents have gone through.

Kidnapping was done by American contractors also.

Xe Contractors Accused of Murder, Kidnapping

A just-amended lawsuit alleges six additional instances of unprovoked attacks on Iraqi civilians by Blackwater contractors.

Three people, including a 9-year-old boy, are said to have died.

Also added to the suit is a racketeering count accusing Blackwater founder Erik Prince of running an ongoing criminal enterprise involved in, among other things, kidnapping and child prostitution.

...... The companies are accused of carrying out three or more kidnappings using three airplanes, identified in the suit by their tail numbers. Susan Burke, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said Wednesday that the kidnappings appear to have been so-called "extraordinary renditions" in which suspects are taken to other countries for interrogation.

The US military is also involved in kidnapping, which is clearly evident in all the civilians who are detained with out charges or trial. Some are sent to Guantanamo, some kept in prisons in Iraq and some in prisons in Afghanistan.

This is just one story:

On January 17, 2002, Boumediene's hands and feet were placed in shackles, and he was put on a military plane en route to Guantanamo Bay. It was a time of high anxiety, and the Bush administration was taking no chances.

After 7 ½ long years, this man was released without charges or apologies. He was working for the Red Crescent at the time of his arrest. There was no evidence to hold him in the first place. And while Guantanamo prison may close, the prison in Afghanistan is growing.

And there have been numerous children who were kidnapped and detained by US troops.

The best kept secret of the Bush's war crimes is that thousands of children have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise denied rights under the Geneva Conventions and related international agreements. Yet both Congress and the media have strangely failed to identify the very existence of child prisoners as a war crime. In the Islamic world, however, there is no such silence.

And the Iraqi government itself was involved in kidnapping. The “MOHR” is the Ministry of Human Rights in this report from 2006:

With thousands of Iraqis kidnapped and arrested over the past three years, often in murky circumstances, the MOHR has become one more place Iraqis look for missing relatives. More than 34,000 Iraqis, according to MOHR figures, are held at one of the dozens of prisons across the country run by either the US military or the Iraqi Ministries of Interior, Defense, and Justice.

The system has become more organized in recent months, but prisoners are still "lost," says one Iraqi official.

There is, at this point in time, an effort by Iraqi government officials to search for the missing in at least one province:

A committee was formed on Tuesday in Ninewa under the governor’s second deputy to check for missing people in the province who went missing during the deteriorated security conditions in the past years, a media source said.

At least someone is making an effort.

And there is at least one group working to help the victims of kidnappings who have survived. Direct Aid Iraq is helping to resettle the family of Ali, a three year old who was kidnapped and tortured and then rescued after a ransom was paid. Please help Direct Aid Iraq if you can.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: kidnappings.

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