Iraq to reopen probe of deadly 2006 raid

September 2, 2011

Iraq’s government will reopen an investigation into a 2006 raid in which U.S. forces killed at least 11 Iraqi civilians, including women and children, a spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday.

The new probe comes after a diplomatic cable surfaced in a WikiLeaks cache that raised fresh doubts about the Pentagon’s version of events, which cleared the U.S. military of any wrongdoing.

Iraqis in the town of Ishaqi have long claimed that U.S. military forces executed at least 11 people there — including women and children — and then hid the crime by directing an airstrike to the area, about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

A Pentagon spokesman dismissed the claims on Friday, saying that, from the U.S. military’s viewpoint, nothing had changed.

In the document released by WikiLeaks, Philip Alston, a human rights official for the United Nations, appears to support the Iraqi claims. He cabled the State Department about two weeks after the incident to describe how U.S. forces approached a house in the early hours of March 15, 2006, and found a family inside, then “handcuffed all the residents and executed all of them.”

Among the dead were a 28-year-old Iraqi man, Faiz Harrat al-Majmaee, and his extended family, including five children younger than 5, the U.N. report said. Autopsies done later in the hospital in Tikrit showed that “all the corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed,” Alston noted.

U.S. coalition spokesmen said at the time that there was no wrongdoing and that the commander “properly followed the rules of engagement as he necessarily escalated the use of force until the threat was eliminated.”

U.S. forces captured a Kuwaiti-born al-Qaeda cell leader — Ahmad Abdallah Muhammad Nais al-Utaybi — and killed an Iraqi bombmaker and recruiter during the coordinated raid.

According to the official military account given later, the troops took direct fire from the building upon their arrival. They responded first with small arms and then by calling in helicopters and, later, air support that destroyed the building.

They found the Iraqi bombmaker dead inside, along with 12 others, the account said.

In June of that year, a Pentagon investigation determined that U.S. commanders used appropriate force in taking down what they described as a safe house during the raid.

A Maliki adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, said Friday: “We want to make sure it wasn’t an armed confrontation. If it wasn’t, then we will ask for the realization of justice, whoever the other party is.”

Special correspondent Asaad Majeed contributed to this report.

Annie Gowen is The Post’s India bureau chief and has reported for the Post throughout South Asia and the Middle East.
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