Cultural Revolutions

Sunni Arab Prisoners Freed

American soldiers stumble upon a secret dungeon and discover dozens of emaciated prisoners—173 of them, to be precise—who had simply vanished from the face of the Earth over the previous weeks and months.  Horrified GIs walk wide-eyed through the stinking chamber of horrors whose inmates grasp with difficulty that their ordeal is over.  Most of the latter bear obvious marks of torture as they are led into sunlight for the first time since their incarceration.

No, this is not Germany 1945, or Korea 1950, or Mogadishu 1993.  The date was November 13, 2005.  The jail in question was in a disused air-raid shelter of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior; the prisoners were mostly Sunni Arabs; and their torturers were members of the Badr Organization, a pro-Iranian Shiite militia that has been given a free hand by Bayan Jabr, the minister himself, who is also a member of the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.  The Supreme Council was at the head of the political ticket condoned by Grand Ayatollah Sistani that emerged as Iraq’s strongest political force at national elections in January 2005 and now effectively controls much of the government.

Since then, members of the Badr have spread out of their strongholds in the south and killed dozens of men in a sustained campaign of intimidation in Sunni neighborhoods.  Last June, media reports documented several instances...

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