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Hammurabi Watch Denials Raise Questions

From terrorist enabling Reuters:

The hands of mysterious Mashhadani.

Iraq rights group on Haditha denies rebel links

Fri Jun 23, 2006

By Michael Georgy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The head of an Iraqi group that has accused U.S. Marines of killing civilians in Haditha dismissed suggestions on Friday that his human rights organization lacks credibility and has links to insurgents.

"We are a small group working under difficult conditions to show what is happening in Iraq," said Abdul Rahman al-Mashhadani of Hammurabi Human Rights and Democracy Monitoring.

"None of us have any ties to insurgents."

Lawyers for Marines will question the authenticity of a videotape at the heart of the case and the credibility of Hammurabi, which provided it, sources close to the Marines say.

The videotape, given to Time Magazine in January by Hammurabi, shows a number of corpses and purports to show the aftermath of a massacre. It prompted military probes into the November 19 incident in which as many as 24 people died.

Mashhadani said it was some weeks before he handed the tape to Time after failing to interest Iraqi newspapers and Arab television stations in the story. Journalists at satellite channels Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera said they never saw the tape.

Time, in its first report in March which brought the case to public attention, said the tape was made by a journalism student the day after the incident and said Hammurabi was working with Human Rights Watch. It later issued a correction saying the New York-based group had no ties with Hammurabi.

The Marine sources also said defense lawyers would say the man described by Time as the journalism student, 43-year-old Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi, was a founder of Hammurabi and one of only two employees. Mashhadani said Hadithi was taking courses in journalism and was not one of the group’s two founders.

Hadithi, based in his native Haditha in Anbar province, was one of six board members, Mashhadani said, adding that the group had 10 other administrative staff in 14 local offices.

VOLUNTEERS

Countering a remark by a lawyer for one of the Marines that Hammurabi lacked credibility and only had two employees, he added: "We have volunteers across Iraq."

In the sectarian atmosphere of Iraq, the religious affiliations of the group’s representatives are under scrutiny.

Mashhadani, an economics professor in Baghdad, is a Sunni Arab from Balad, north of the capital, and his group has focused its activities over the past year on restive Sunni areas north and west of the city, including Anbar province in the west.

It has Shi’ites and others among some 500 people who work on a voluntary basis for the group, however, Mashhadani said. It is expanding into Shi’ite southern Iraq, he added.

Some 9,000 people monitored last December’s election for Hammurabi, which is named after a Babylonian king renowned for establishing one of the world’s first legal codes in Iraq.

Mashhadani said he first thought of forming a human rights group when, during a visit to Jordan, he heard reports of fraud in Iraq’s first postwar elections in January 2005: "I wanted to investigate these allegations and go all over the country.

"An associate and I were in Amman and a human rights activist encouraged us to set it up."

He never thought the Haditha tape would trigger such a major U.S. investigation into the allegations of misconduct by troops because "many cases are never investigated".

But all the attention makes him nervous. Mashhadani moves around from house to house, fearful of being targeted.

"You never know who will want to kill you in Iraq," he said.

Responding to suggestions he and Hadithi have relatives in jail for insurgent activity, Mashhadani said: "Absolutely not."

"I live in a hot spot where the Americans always look for insurgents. They searched my house 16 times," said Mashhadani. "I tried to stop them but they threatened to stamp on my head."

Well, then. I guess that settles it. Except for all of the questions they didn’t address and the new discrepancies that have now been introduced.

Mashhadani said Hadithi was taking courses in journalism and was not one of the group’s two founders.

If this is so it sure makes Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi out to be a liar, as he has clearly told reporters he was the original founder of Hammurabi, as was reported in many articles.

Hadithi, based in his native Haditha in Anbar province, was one of six board members, Mashhadani said, adding that the group had 10 other administrative staff in 14 local offices.

We have been told that Hadithi now lives in Baghdad and was only visiting Haditha for a religious holiday at the time of the incident.

And who is paying for all of this, or do visiting lecturers on economics make a lot of money?

"I live in a hot spot where the Americans always look for insurgents. They searched my house 16 times," said Mashhadani. "I tried to stop them but they threatened to stamp on my head."

So does Mashhadani live in Haditha? It has been usually reported he lives in Baghdad. And doesn’t this remark betray a possible ulterior motive? An anti-US bias seemingly shared by the doctor, the lawyer and many of the other witnesses to the alleged massacre?

Mashhadani said he first thought of forming a human rights group when, during a visit to Jordan

Which increases the chance that he is the same Mashhadani who also taught at the Philadelphia University in Jordan. And who had been an administrator for the Al Rasheed Bank in Baghdad, which is a state run bank, up until Saddam was overthrown.

And who made the video again? Mashhadani never got around to actually answering that, even though that is a pivotal question.

But he does seem to imply that we are back to it being the work of our "budding journalism student," the "young local" Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi — or just "Hadithi" as he is being called here.

Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi, Secretary-General of the Hammurabi Organization for Human Rights and Democracy Monitoring.

Of course Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi is on record saying that he made the tape. However, Time magazine is on the record saying both that he did and he didn’t.

But no matter who made it, why did Hammurabi sit on this all important documentation from November until February — as Time now claims ?

Even Reuters seems to question Mashhadani’s latest version of the tale of the tape:

Mashhadani said it was some weeks before he handed the tape to Time after failing to interest Iraqi newspapers and Arab television stations in the story. Journalists at satellite channels Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera said they never saw the tape.

Why would Al Jazeera which had reported on the story the day after the incident not be interested in the video? And why didn’t Hammurabi take it to Time, who says they had worked with the group before?

And, lastly, why didn’t Mashhadani mention the Haditha massacre when he was talking to the media in December ? Why didn’t any of their board members or thousands of volunteers mention it to anyone?

Was reporting the voter turnout more important to this "human rights" group than documenting a massacre?

And while we are at it, maybe somebody should ask Chairman Mashhadani how he came to select the name for his "Human Rights Watch" group.

After all, Hammurabi was the ancient Babylonian king most famous for his "code." And his code is most famous for its very stern justice.

Indeed Hammurabi’s Code is the origin of the all too middle eastern phrase: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

Which suggests its members might have an agenda apart from "human rights."

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 23rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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