"Secret Prison" Uncovered in Baghdad

A "secret prison," possibly run by one of Iraq's powerful militias, has been discovered by the Iraqi government in Baghdad, according to a Slogger source.

IraqSlogger has learned from an informed source inside the Iraqi administration that some days ago an off-the-grid prison was discovered in the Baghdad district of Kadhimiya, holding approximately 415 prisoners in its underground facility.

The prisoners inside reportedly date back to the tenure of the previous minister of the Interior, Bayan Jabr Solagh, who held that post from 2005 to 2006.

The prison was reportedly discovered in Kadhimiya's fifth district within the last few days, and very few Iraqi officials even at high levels of government know any details about the installation.

According to Slogger's source, the facility is said to have contained over 600 people at one time, mostly Sunni Arabs, among them pilots, colonels, generals and other military officers who held positions of influence in the former regime, though many prisoners were also ordinary citizens.

Militia groups running the site reportedly execute prisoners periodically, leaving the population of the prison around 415 at the time of its discovery.

Such operations, Slogger's source says, are one of the "secrets" behind the bodies regularly discovered in Baghdad's streets, suggesting that some of the bodies found each day belong to individuals held for extended periods in secret militia-run prison facilities.

The prison is located in an underground level in the building, down what may be two flights of stairs to where the prisoners are kept. The source believes the site exhibited signs of being used by the Badr corps, but had no confirmation of that impression.

The Badr corps, more recently known as the Badr organization, is the militia attached to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council as it is now called.

Solagh, the former interior minister, was a longtime activist with the SCIRI/SIIS, and currently serves as Iraq's finance minister.

It is commonly alleged that during Solagh's tenure at the Interior ministry, militiamen from the Badr corps infiltrated Iraq's security forces, from which they especially targeted Iraq's Sunni population and anyone suspected of links to the old regime.

The prison was reportedly found by a person living in the street where the prison is located, who alerted a member of the Iraqi authorities who works in the field of human rights for the Maliki government.

According to Slogger's source, Iraqi and American personnel would have passed by the alleged prison's location in Kadhimiya, but no evidence of a prison is visible from the street. Not even a guard is posted at the door.

Little information could be gleaned about the condition of the prisoners themselves, although the source did learn that each day the approximately 415 prisoners are given around 15 to 20 bottles of water for the whole group, and the meals consist largely of food scraps.

Slogger's contact speculates that the prisoners may have been detained by interior ministry forces with militia ties in 2005 or 2006, and subsequently disappeared in the Iraqi prison system. If that is true, the prisoners may have been photographed and recorded on file by Coalition forces at the time of their initial detention in 2005 or 2006, as a routine part of the prisoner intake process.

Another possibility is that militia members abducted the prisoners directly, and that they have not passed through any formal prisoner registration procedure with the Iraqi government.

Kadhimiya, one of the few majority-Shi'a areas west of the Tigris River, is known as one of the relatively calmer districts in the capital - by Baghdad standards, that is. It is also known as a stronghold of Shi'a militias such as the Mahdi Army and the Badr corps, who control much of the district.

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