While this week marks the one-year anniversary since the US formally ended military operations in Iraq, a diplomatic cable exposed by WikiLeaks unearths a gruesome incident in which Americans handcuffed and executed children during a 2006 raid.
An uncensored diplomatic cable released through WikIleaks last week shows that not only did US troops brutally execute 11 Iraqis during an incident in March of 2006, but they then ordered in an airstrike to destroy the evidence of their wrongdoing.
Up until now, officials have either downplayed or denied the event, but the latest release courtesy of Julian Assange’s whistleblower site confirms what Iraqis have accused Americans of all along.
According to the newly released cable, American troops approached a house in Ishaqi, around 80 miles outside of Baghdad, and were met with gunfire. Once the firestorm subsided, however, the soldiers entered the home and handcuffed all of the residents, including several women and children. Once bound, the US troops then shot the civilians in the head and called in an air raid.
Allegations that the incident occurred have existed ever since the event, which was dated to have happened on March 15, 2006. The recent file released in a document dump from WikiLeaks finally confirms it by way of a United Nations investigator, who questioned the incident days later.
The newly-released cable documents correspondence between Phillip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and American officials only 12 days after the raid occurred. According to the cable, Alston reached out to US officials after Iraqi civilians cried foul play and asked for a formal investigation into the matter. At the time, US officials denied they had done anything. McClatchy Newspapers reports that US military officials in Iraq dismissed allegation from the townspeople at the time, saying that their supposed eye-witness accounts were highly likely to be false and that an investigation was not necessary.
In Alston’s letter, however, the UN official states that American forces entered the house after firing at it — with support from an armed helicopter — and then executed 11 people in all. Three vehicles and the family’s animals were also destroyed.
Alston’s correspondence with US officials and analyses of the autopsy remained unpublished until WikiLeaks exposed the information last week.
Though the incident occurred over five years ago, the US has remained mostly mum on the issue. Speaking to McClatchy today, Alston says, “The tragedy is that this elaborate system of communications is in place but the (UN) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up when states ignore issues raised with them."
The cable shows that the UN official was able to receive information from the autopsy of those killed, which revealed that each person in the house during the raid was handcuffed and shot in the head, including five children under the age of 5 years old and four women, one in her 70s.
Early on in the investigation, spokespeople for the US military said that an al-Qaeda-linked insurgent was located in the house and that American troops seized him from a first-floor room after a gun battle. The cables exposed by WikiLeaks, however, suggests that troops entered the house after 25 minutes of a shootout, handcuffing and shooting the residents once the coast was clear.
The cable was signed off by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center, and cites autopsies performed at the morgue of the Tikrit Hospital. The Join Coordination Center was based in Tikrit, hometown of Saddam Hussein, and served as a security center that was founded by US military personnel and staffed by Iraqi police officers that were trained by Americans.