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Iraqis Find Unity in Militia

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke | 18.03.2004 16:40 | Anti-militarism | World

WASHINGTON ( -- Iraqi Shias, Sunnis and even Kurds have reportedly allied to form an armed vigilante militia aimed at overcoming the shortcomings of Coalition forces and Iraqi police.

A Shia cleric and local policeman accompanied six members of the Black Flag militia to meet with a representative from the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in Baghdad. According to a report filed by IWPR journalist trainee Abd al-Karem al-Hashemy last Monday, the escalating bombings and continued crime throughout the country roused the men to action.

Al-Hashemy wrote that the Black Flag believes members' "street level intelligence" gives them an edge when searching for suspects, and that the militia provides an imperative security alternative to the beleaguered or corrupted Iraqi police and seemingly unresponsive Coalition troops.

"We keep an eye on the suspicious persons ­ Iraqis and foreigners who we think may be responsible for attacks, robberies and chaos," said a man the report identifies as H.A., allegedly the Black Flag's security head. H.A. told IWPR he has a list of 21 suspects garnered from the organization's own investigation and research. Those names will go to the police or to Coalition forces. Should the legal authority fail to act, suspects will be immediately killed or the Black Flag will "warn them, and if they do not stop, we will kill them," said H.A., who asserted that Black Flag would also target people assisting insurgents "in person or through satellite channels like al-Arabiya."

The Black Flag boasts 5,000 members throughout Iraq. "Although this claim is impossible to verify, IWPR has met members of the groups in three different locations across west Baghdad," noted al-Hashemy. "As well as al-Adhamiya, IWPR has seen Black Flag leaflets in al-Karkh, a west Baghdad neighbourhood that is a centre of Baathist activity, the outlying mixed Sunni-Shia neighbourhoods of al-Bayaa and al- Adel, and the central Bab al-Sharji market."

SOURCE: Iraqi Crisis Report No. 52 from the Institute of War and Press Reporting correspondent Lisa Ashkenaz Croke drafted this report.

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke
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  1. Horseshit !! Contrived imperialist propaganda. — not required