Doug Ireland writes of death squads, working under the religious edict of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, that find and execute Iraqi civilians for the crime of … being gay. Iraqi exile Ali Hili has alleged personal knowledge of the Badr Corps’ activities:
â€œBadr Corps agents have a network of informers who, among other things, target alleged immoral behavior,â€ Hili continued. â€œThey kill gays, unveiled women, prostitutes, people who sell or drink alcohol, and those who listen to Western music and wear Western fashions.â€
â€œBadr militants are entrapping gay men via Internet chat rooms,â€ Hili said. â€œThey arrange a date, and then beat and kill the victim. Males who are unmarried by the age of 30 or 35 are placed under surveillance on suspicion of being gay, as are effeminate men. They will be investigated and warned to get married.
â€œBadr will typically give them a month to change their ways. If they donâ€™t change their behavior, or if they fail to show evidence that they plan to get married, they will be arrested, disappear, and eventually be found dead. The bodies are usually discovered with their hands bound behind their back, blindfolds over their eyes, and bullet wounds to the back of the head.â€
A gay man by the pseudonym of Tahseen who is still living in Iraq tells Ireland:
Just last week, four gay people we know of were found dead. I am afraid to leave my room and go out in the street because I will be killed. We all live in fear…. Within one hour after they meet a gay person in an Internet chat room, that person will disappear and be found dead…. Since Sistaniâ€™s fatwa, the life of a gay person is worth nothing here, and the violence and killings have gotten much, much worse…. Right now, I have five gay men hiding in my room in fear of their lives, because they cannot go outside without risking being killed. They are all listening to me as I speak with you.
Perhaps the most serious allegation made by Tahseen is that:
When we go to the Americans, they laugh at us and donâ€™t do anything. The Americans are the problem…. These assaults and murders have been reported to the Green Zone, but the Americans donâ€™t want to upset the religious authorities, and so they do nothing or treat gay Iraqis with contempt or as an object of humor.
It is important to note that the Badr corps is alleged to work under the edict of, and not the organizational control of, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Sistani issued a fatwa late last year that calls for homosexuality to be punishable by death.
It is also important to note that both Hili and Ireland are gay rights activists and not dispassionate journalists on the subject.
… so because all this information (excluding the religious fatwa of Sistani) comes through the one person Ali Hili or his direct contacts, I am inclined to take this report with a grain of salt. This is NOT to say that I don’t believe the story, but just to say that before I jump whole-hog on the outrage bandwagon I’d like to see a second independent source on this. If you know of one, please share it.
That said, because this allegation is so serious and alleges the enabling of such killings, it is critical that American forces respond to it in an active and public manner. Do American military forces know of these killings? If so, what have they done to stop them, when, where, and how? Are gay Iraqis being sacrificed on the altar of realpolitik? We need to know. We need to hear something in detail from the Pentagon on this.
If these reports are accurate, we have great reason to fear that a “free” Iraq will be anything but, tearing to bitter pieces the last justification for an unnecessary, thoroughly regrettable war.