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Friday | August 01, 2003

Iraqi family executes informer

By Steve Gilliard

This story is amazing on so many levels, you should read it before commenting.

For an Iraqi Family, 'No Other Choice'
Father and Brother Are Forced by Villagers to Execute Suspected U.S. Informant
By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, August 1, 2003; Page A01

THULUYA, Iraq -- Two hours before the dawn call to prayer, in a village still shrouded in silence, Sabah Kerbul's executioners arrived. His father carried an AK-47 assault rifle, as did his brother. And with barely a word spoken, they led the man accused by the village of working as an informer for the Americans behind a house girded with fig trees, vineyards and orange groves.

His father raised his rifle and aimed it at his oldest son.

"Sabah didn't try to escape," said Abdullah Ali, a village resident. "He knew he was facing his fate."

These folks were facing a series of grim choices,

We sent a message to his family," said Ali, a retired colonel whose brother was among those killed during the operation. "You have to kill your son. If you don't kill him, we will act against your family."

His father appealed, Ali recalled, saying he needed permission from U.S. forces.

"We told him we're not responsible for this," Ali said. "We told him you must kill your son."

This was returbution for a raid which killed several people the townsfolk believed to be innocent.

This was one of the 4th Division's early big raids, and there were reports of an informer who pointed people out. The people from the next village said, at the time, that they would demand retribution. Which they did.

They made it clear, either kill their informer son, or the whole family would die to prevent a full-out tribal feud. The informer came from a Shia village and pointed out people from a Sunni town. Everyone knew him and the family. And instead of flipping out, they gave the family a choice.

US units leave their snitiches exposed and the locals, regardless of how they feel about Saddam, will not have it. They've threatened some, killed others and passed around lists of collaborators. The locals were perfectly willing to demand and accept local accountability from their neighbors.

It also sends a harsh message to anyone working with the Americans. Their neighbors will punish entire families for cooperation and it cuts across tribal and ethnic lines.

As the war heats up, more informers and collaborators will die. Not because they love Saddam, but because of popular consensus about working with the Americans. Needless to say, in this environment, it is little mystery that the CPA has such little support. People hard enough to demand a father execute his son are not going to be won over easy.

Posted August 01, 2003 05:53 AM


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