Wednesday, April 06, 2005

More women taken hostage in Iraq


If you were to do a Google search for "women hostages in Iraq" there are thousands of entries. Chinese women taken; Italian women taken -- these by "insurgents," that catch-all name for various Iraqi nationalists, outraged Islamists, bandits, and general plug-uglies.

But today, "women hostages in Iraq" brings up a new category of hostage taking: a Reuters story by Michael Georgy titled "US Probes Whether Troops Hold Iraq Women 'Hostage'".

Arkan Mukhlif al-Batawi has accused U.S. troops of taking his mother and sister hostage after raiding the family home on Saturday. He claimed:

[T]he women had been arrested to try to pressure him and his brothers Muhammad and Saddam to surrender themselves to U.S. troops who suspect them of insurgent attacks.

A handwritten note in Arabic at the house read: "Be a man Muhammad Mukhlif and give yourself up and then we will release your sisters. Otherwise they will spend a long time in detention." It was signed "Bandit 6," apparently U.S. army code, possibly designating a company commander.…

When Reuters called a mobile phone number left on the note, an American who said he was a soldier appeared to be aware of Batawi's accusation but declined further comment.…

Neighbors interviewed around Batawi's villa in the capital's Sunni Arab suburb of Taji corroborated his account.

They said U.S. troops accompanied by Iraqi police had arrested Batawi's 65-year-old mother and a sister who is 35, and had told locals through an interpreter that the women would be freed only once the brothers surrendered themselves.

The US Army promises to "investigate thoroughly" as the title of the Reuters story indicates.

Eventually the Iraqis will throw the US out, whether by attrition or by popular insurrection. In the meantime, our impotent Army piles insult on outrage, flailing against enemies it cannot understand or defeat.

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