U.S general says death squad members picked up in past month

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 20 September 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_The U.S. general helping train Iraq's police forces on
Wednesday said none of the death squad members detained in the past month
during a security operation in Baghdad had ties to the Ministry of Interior
or other government agencies.

Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Peterson, Commander of Civilian Police Assistance
Training Team, said one death squad cell with 31 members had been detained
in the past week.

"They have come from militias not tied to ministries. They were working
independently and we thought they wanted to foment sectarian war. None were
members of the Ministry of Interior," he said. About 200 bodies of men
tortured and shot, hallmarks of death squads, have turned up around Baghdad
in the past week.

Both Sunni Arab and Shiite death squads roam the streets of Baghdad, but the
Shiite groups are thought to outnumber the Sunni ones.

Sunni Arabs have in the past said the Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry was
somehow connected to death squads _ many of whose members are thought to be
recruited from Shiite militias.

"From a general allegation that the Ministry of Interior is sponsoring death
squads, it has not been borne out by those we have captured and detained to
date," Petersen said.

When asked about which militia groups death squad members seemed to have
been recruited from, Petersen did not elaborate but said that "Jaish
al-Mahdi is certainly one of them."

He was referring to the Mahdi Army, which is loyal to radical anti-U.S.
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. There have been reports, however, that the militia
has splintered recently _ with some groups breaking away from al-Sadr.