Did Iraq Just Elect a Mass-Murderer?
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In Scotland, the award-winning Sunday Herald ran its sister publication’s copy, as did the New Zealand Sunday Star Times , the Irish Examiner and Canada’s Toronto Post. The London Daily Mail and South Africa’s Sunday Mail (same ownership) ran a story with a similar lead, although the denial comes right up front:
IRAQ'S new Prime Minister was fighting to clear his name last night after he was accused of executing as many as six suspected insurgents.
Iyad Allawi is alleged to have shot the prisoners at a Baghdad police station days before power was handed to the interim Iraqi government last month…
The story broke only to a limited degree in the United States. Newsweek had a brief report on the allegation and it also appeared on the UPI wire. In its usually direct way, UPI led with: “Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi killed six suspected insurgents just days before he was handed power, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.”
But, according to a Lexis-Nexis search of the two-week period following the Herald’s bombshell, no major papers picked up the UPI story. The Los Angeles Times did run a piece under the headline: "Rumors circulate about Allawi's itchy trigger finger,” which was republished by the Kansas City Star, the Baltimore Sun and the San Francisco Chronicle. This is how those papers’ readers got the story:
There are many versions of the story on the street. In one, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is driving through downtown Baghdad and sees a frail old man being confronted by three armed men attempting to steal his vehicle.
Allawi leaps out of his car and shoots dead the would-be carjackers.
In another, Allawi is in a Baghdad jail where he interviews suspects, hears their confessions, declares “they deserve to die” and shoots them on the spot.
A third version sets the scene of his violent retribution in the Shiite city of Najaf, which has been racked by violence in recent months.
Is there any truth to these tales that Allawi has shot suspects? The stories have been denied by Allawi and dismissed by members of his government, the U.S. Embassy and a State Department spokesman.
On the last point, Scotland’s Sunday Herald reported: "Senior US officials have not made an outright dismissal of the allegations…."
The New York Sun , a conservative alternative paper, ran the only other U.S. story that came back from a Lexis-Nexis search. It reported the allegations were thought unlikely because of Allawi’s character. The Sun’s lead was: “Iraq's top human rights official said yesterday allegations that Prime Minister Allawi summarily executed six prisoners before taking power is a baseless smear spread to undermine the government.”
That was based on a Federal News Service interview with Iraq's Human Rights Minister Bakhtiya Amin, in which he said: “This is not the Iyad Allawi that I know. He's not a killer. And he's not the type of person who goes out killing people.”
It’s an odd line of defense in light of the fact that, as Douglas Valentine wrote in Counterpunch: “According to published reports, Allawi began his career in the killing business in the 1960s on behalf of Saddam Hussein; but in 1978, he switched to the CIA after Hussein tried to kill him. In 1991 Allawi co-founded an anti-Saddam, CIA-front organization, the Iraqi National Accord (INA), which the New York Times described as ‘a terrorist organization.’” When he assumed the office of interim Prime Minister, some European papers routinely refer to Allawi as a “former assassin,” or in similar terms.