The Volcano Brigade is a commando unit under the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The ministry and especially the unit are alleged to have been heavily
infiltrated by a violent Shia militia, the Badr Organization. The Volcano Brigade has been implicated in numerous kidnappings for ransom, terrorizing
of the citizenry, and outright murders of members of the community. Volcano Brigadesmen move about the cities of Iraq in full battle gear in military
vehicles while even going so far as to wear ski-masks. The Interior Ministry has also recently been found to have been keeping secret prisons in
country where the old Shia foe, the Sunnis, have been horribley torture.
About 2 a.m. on Aug. 23, men in Volcano Brigade uniforms and trucks rolled into the streets of Dolay, a mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhood of western
Baghdad, residents say. "I got a call from my cousins" around the corner, said Ahmed Abu Yusuf, 33, an unemployed Sunni. "They told me to stay
hidden because the Volcano were in the streets, arresting Sunnis."
For three hours, the raiders burst into Sunni homes, handcuffed dozens of men and loaded them into vans. They ended the assault and drove out of the
neighborhood just before the dawn call to prayer, which would bring men into the streets, walking to the local mosques, Abu Yusuf said.
Two days later and 90 miles away, residents of the desert town of Badrah, near the Iranian border, found the bodies of 36 of the men in a gully, their
hands still bound and their skulls shattered by bullets. Two were the cousins who had phoned him the warning, Abu Yusuf said.[...]
The Volcano Brigade's commander, Bassem Gharawi, has denied his force committed the massacre[...]
In the past year, the U.S. military has helped build up the commandos under guidance from James Steele, a former Army Special Forces officer who led
U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador in the 1980s. Salvadoran army units trained by Steele's team were accused of a pattern of
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr denies his ministry condones such killings [...]Jabr is a leader of Iraq's most powerful Shia political party, the
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The party's longtime military wing, the Badr militia, was formed in Iran as an adjunct to
Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guards to help fight the 1980-88 war against Hussein's Baathists.
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I think that some of the worst aspects of this is that the american liason for these sorts of groups is the same guy who was the liason for the
infamous Salvadorian Death Squads. The fact that the Badr Organization is linked to fundamentalist Iran is also rather stunning. There are also
Sunni Death Squads roving the streets, with the machoistic names of the Lion Brigade and Scorpion Brigade, and others.
On the one hand, the very existance of these units shows what could happen if the US left Iraq in the next few years, with the Sadamite Regime simply
being replaced by an equally brutal and inhuman Badrite one, making the whole Enterprise entirely pointless.
On the other hand, these brigades are being trained by the US, and might not even exist on a systematic scale if the US wasn't there in the first
place. The El Salvadorian debacle of the past few decades clearly shows that these sorts of politics are incredibly dangerous and that they are a
real affront to the ideals of an American foreign policy and culture.
Everyone can agree that war is messy. This isn't war tho. This is enabling brutal monsters to let loose their wrath on their fellow citizens, all in
some idiotic hope that it will somehow result in a better geopolitical position for the US. Iraq has no cultural history of actual participatory
democracy, and setting up death squads within it and allowing its government ministries to be run by brutal tribalistic strong men certainly isn't
going to help that. If Iraqi Democracy and a Free Iraqi Republic are good things for the US, then these actions are certianly bad things for it.
This James Steele, at the very least, needs to be pulled out of there and put up on trial.
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[edit on 20-11-2005 by asala]