The Independent has learnt that secret executions are being carried out in the prisons run by Nouri al-Maliki’s “democratic” government.
The hangings are carried out regularly – from a wooden gallows in a small, cramped cell – in Saddam Hussein’s old intelligence headquarters at Kazimiyah. There is no public record of these killings in what is now called Baghdad’s “high-security detention facility” but most of the victims – there have been hundreds since America introduced “democracy” to Iraq – are said to be insurgents, given the same summary justice they mete out to their own captives.
“There’s a cell with a bar below the ceiling with a rope over it and a bench on which the victim stands with his hands tied,” a former British official, told me last week. “I’ve been in the cell, though it was always empty. But not long before I visited, they’d taken this guy there to hang him. They made him stand on the bench, put the rope round his neck and pushed him off. But he jumped on to the floor. He could stand up. So they shortened the length of the rope and got him back on the bench and pushed him off again. It didn’t work. They started digging into the floor beneath the bench so that the guy would drop far enough to snap his neck,” the official said. “They dug up the tiles and the cement underneath. But that didn’t work. He could still stand up when they pushed him off the bench. So they just took him to a corner of the cell and shot him in the head.”
Paul Woodward:- “The programme – which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb – must remain secret for now or it would ‘get people killed,’ Woodward said Monday on CNN’s Larry King Live.
” ‘It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have,’ Woodward said.
“In The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008, Woodward disclosed the existence of secret operational capabilities [‘fusion cells’] developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al Qa’eda in Iraq and other insurgent leaders.”
The Washington Post reported: “Headquartered in an old concrete hangar on the Balad Air Base, which once housed Saddam Hussein’s fighter aircraft, about 45 miles north of Baghdad, the Joint Task Force in Iraq runs fusion cells in the north, west and south and in Baghdad, US officials said.
“The headquarters bustles like the New York Stock Exchange, with long-haired computer experts working alongside wizened intelligence agents and crisply clad military officers, say officials who have worked there or visited.
“Huge computer screens hang from the ceiling, displaying aerial surveillance images relayed from Predator, Schweizer and tiny Gnat spycraft. The Bush administration’s 2009 supplementary budget request included $1.3 billion to fund 28 unmanned aircraft, officials said, and all will go to the interagency teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, not the Air Force.
“For the Joint Task Force, the CIA provides intelligence analysts and spycraft with sensors and cameras that can track targets, vehicles or equipment for up to 14 hours. FBI forensic experts dissect data, from cellphone information to the ‘pocket litter’ found on extremists. Treasury officials track funds flowing among extremists and from governments. National Security Agency staffers intercept conversations or computer data, and members of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency use high-tech equipment to pinpoint where suspected extremists are using phones or computers.”
In a separate report on what appears to be the same secret programme, The Sunday Telegraph recently reported that hundreds of terrorist suspects in Iraq have been killed by British special forces.
“More than 3,500 insurgents have been ‘taken off the streets of Baghdad’ by the elite British force in a series of audacious ‘Black Ops’ over the past two years.
“It is understood that while the majority of the terrorists were captured, several hundred, who were mainly members of the organisation known as ‘al-Qa’eda in Iraq’ have been killed by the SAS.
“The SAS is part of a highly secretive unit called ‘Task Force Black’ which also includes Delta Force, the US equivalent of the SAS.”
One of the earliest references to the operation of fusion cells in Iraq says that they came into being during the first year of the war in Iraq.
In their book, Hope is Not a Plan, Thomas S Mowle and Larry Diamond said that the US Army’s chief intelligence officer in Iraq in 2003, Maj Gen Barbara Fast, established “an intelligence fusion cell manned by Americans, British, and Australians… The fusion cell dealt with targeting, counterterrorism, interrogation support, political-military matters, and the insurgency.”
Maj Gen Fast was the most senior military intelligence officer serving in Iraq at the time the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse occurred. Critics said she and other senior officials should have been held accountable for the abuse. In A Question of Torture, by Alfred W McCoy, she is quoted as having told the commanding officer of the Abu Ghraib prison, “We’re going to run interrogations the way we want them run.”