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Why Did Rights Group Sit On Haditha Story?

The man Time Magazine first described as a "budding journalism student" Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi is now portrayed as an "Iraq Investigator" by the DNC’s Associated Press.

But excerpts from the AP’s article raises some questions about him and his group’s only other member, Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani:

Secretary-General of the Hammurabi Organization for Human Rights and Democracy Monitoring, and also a Haditha resident who witnessed parts of the incident, Thaer al-Hadithi, gives a detailed account of the alleged massacre of 24 Iraqis by U.S. Marines last year, to an Associated Press reporter at the offices of the group in Baghdad, Iraq Tuesday, June 6, 2006.

Iraq Investigator Tells AP About Haditha

June 7, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A small group of U.S. Marines alleged to have killed up to two dozen Iraqi civilians conducted a house-to-house hunt that stretched over three hours, while other Marines in Haditha did not intervene, according to an Iraqi human rights investigator.

The Associated Press interview of the activist is the most detailed account yet of Iraqi accusations that Marines went on a rampage after a comrade was killed by a bomb. Two separate U.S. military investigations of the incident are under way.

Thaer al-Hadithi, a member and spokesman for the Hammurabi human rights association, a Sunni Muslim group, recounted with the help of a satellite map when and where Iraqi civilians cowered and sometimes died.

The case, which came to public attention two months ago because of a video released by the Hammurabi group, is threatening to further weaken popular support for the Iraq war in the United States and has tarnished the military’s image in Iraq and around the world…

Hammurabi chairman Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani told the AP on Tuesday that his group was investigating other violations of Iraqi civil rights by Western forces in the mainly Sunni Arab provinces of Anbar and Salaheddin to the west and north of Baghdad. He said the group also was looking into violations by Iraqi security forces, militias and tribal clans.

"We are also against terrorism," he said…

Al-Hadithi did not attend any of the meetings between victims’ families and the U.S. military, but he based his account of what the Marines officer said on briefings from Hammurabi’s Haditha representative and conversations with the families.

Al-Mashhadani, Hammurabi’s chairman, who lectures on economics at Baghdad’s al-Mustansiriyah University, said the organization was publicizing the Haditha incident to make sure it’s not repeated…

But back in March when this story first was reported by Time Magazine we were told by Time reporter Aparisim Ghosh (via Democracy Now! ) that Thaer Thabit (aka Thabet) al-Hadithi did not want his name known out of concern for his personal safety:

AMY GOODMAN: And then, this Haditha journalism student, who is this student?

APARISIM GHOSH: We’d rather not say, for his own protection, but he’s a young local man. It’s not uncommon in Iraq for young people to have video cameras and cameras, and there’s so much going on in their lives that they have plenty to shoot.

AMY GOODMAN: And you got a hold of this, or Hammurabi Human Rights got a hold of this.

APARISIM GHOSH: He brought the tape to Hammurabi Human Rights, which is a local human rights group, and they brought it to us once they found out that we were inquiring about this.

Why start a human rights group if you want to remain anonymous? And why did Time pretend their source was young? Why did they pretend he had no involvement with Hammurabi? (When in fact he is its founder.)

But that is just the start of the many questionable aspects of Thabit’s accounts.

Bear in mind that this "budding journalism student" waited until the next day to videotape this alleged atrocity, which supposedly happened on his very doorstep.

Note that this same "budding journalism student" and self-proclaimed human rights watcher did not bother to turn over his video to a media outlet or a real human rights group from November 2005 until March 2006. A four month delay.

That’s how eager they were to make sure such a crime is never again repeated.

Now look at Thabit’s partner at Hammurabi, Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani.

Al-Mashhadani is described in a December 15, 2005 article from the Institute For War And Peace as an election monitor. In fact, he expressed great satisfaction with the turnout in the Iraqi elections:

Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani, an election monitor in Baghdad with the non-governmental organisation Hamurabi, said no major violations occurred in Baghdad. He expected 90 per cent turnout in Sunni Arab areas.

(Which is quite ironic, given that only 150 people out of 90,000 dared to risk their lives to vote in the earlier October referendum in Haditha.)

But if Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani was talking to the media in December about the election turnout, why didn’t he tell them then about this alleged atrocity at Haditha that had just occurred three weeks before?

Wasn’t that the purpose in starting the Hammurabi group?

It just doesn’t make sense.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, June 7th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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