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IRAQ WARS
Iraq ups anti-Qaeda militia pay to appease demos
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Jan 29, 2013


Court hears Iraq abuse claims against British troops
London (AFP) Jan 29, 2013 - Claims that British troops committed systematic human rights violations in Iraq were taken Tuesday to London's High Court, where lawyers pushed for a public inquiry into the alleged abuses.

Allegations that British interrogators were guilty of unlawful killings and torture between 2003 and 2009 were put before judges in an 82-page document, with soldiers accused of "terrifying acts of brutality".

Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has set up a body, called the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), to investigate the claims.

But Public Interest Lawyers, the firm representing the 192 Iraqis, claims IHAT is not sufficiently independent and is using the three-day hearing to push for a public inquiry.

The MoD argues a public inquiry would be "premature and disproportionate".

Michael Fordham QC, representing the Iraqis, told the court: "Enough is enough. There must be a public inquiry in relation to the credible and prima facie cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the British military in Iraq from 2003-09."

He said the IHAT panel, which included members of the Royal Navy Police, failed to meet "the relevant standard of independence".

The lawyer said it was necessary for "somebody independent to grasp this nettle and pursue the truth of what happened, and its implications, compatibly with the rule of law".

The case is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, with lawyers saying another 800 other claims of violations will be made.

The MoD says it has already settled 227 claims with compensation payouts totalling 15.1 million (17.6 million euros, $23.7 million).

An MoD spokeswoman said: "The establishment now of a wide-ranging public inquiry to consider alleged systemic issues would be premature and disproportionate.

"It is also likely that any single public inquiry would take much longer than the investigations already being undertaken."

She said the MoD was awaiting the outcome of the IHAT investigations and would respond in due course, adding: "The MoD takes all allegations of abuse seriously which is precisely why we set up the Iraq Historic Allegations Team to ensure that all allegations are, or have been, investigated appropriately."

Iraqi officials said Tuesday they would up the salaries of Sunni militiamen who fought Al-Qaeda during the country's brutal sectarian war, the latest bid to appease mostly-Sunni anti-government rallies.

The immediate two-thirds increase in wages for the Sahwa, otherwise known as the Sons of Iraq or the Awakening, comes as officials have trumpeted a substantial prisoner release in the face of more than a month of demonstrations in the country's north and west.

Around 41,000 Sahwa fighters are to receive 500,000 Iraqi dinars ($415) a month, up from 300,000 dinars ($250), Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told a news conference on Tuesday.

The Sahwa is composed of bands of Sunni tribesmen who sided with the US military from late-2006 onwards against Al-Qaeda, a key factor helping turn the tide of Iraq's bloody insurgency.

Sunni militants still linked to Al-Qaeda regularly target Sahwa fighters in violent attacks because they regard them as traitors.

An increase in wages for the Sahwa, as well as their incorporation into the security forces and civil service, has long been a demand of Iraq's Sunni community, calls that have been amplified by the recent protests.

In addition to the salary increase, officials in Baghdad recently claimed to have released nearly 900 inmates from Iraqi prisons, but have not provided a breakdown on how many were being held without charge and how many were simply being released as their jail terms had ended.

Shahristani also publicly apologised in a news conference this month for holding detainees without charge.

The demonstrations come amid a political crisis in Iraq that has pitted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against many of his erstwhile government partners less than three months ahead of provincial elections.

Two Iraqis living in US sentenced in terrorism case
Washington (AFP) Jan 29, 2013 - A US judge Tuesday sentenced two Iraqi men living in Kentucky to federal prison for their role in a plot to ship weapons to Iraqi insurgents and raise money for the Al-Qaeda terror network.

Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 25, was sentenced to life in federal prison while his accomplice Waad Ramadan Alwan, 31, was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by supervised release, the US Justice Department said.

Both had pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges, but were not charged with plotting attacks within the United States.

The two Iraqis who were living in Bowling Green, in the southern state of Kentucky, "participated in terrorist activities overseas and attempted to continue providing material support to terrorists while they lived here in the United States," said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

"With today's sentences, both men are being held accountable," Monaco said.

Authorities arrested Hammadi and Alwan in an FBI sting involving an undercover agent posing as part of a group sending money and weapons to insurgents in Iraq.

Alwan, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded roadside bomb found in Iraq, pleaded guilty in December 2011 to all counts of a 23-count federal indictment that included conspiracy to kill US nationals abroad and export Stinger shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

In August 2012 Hammadi pleaded guilty to a 12-count indictment that included similar charges.

Alwan however received a reduced sentence because he cooperated with authorities, the Justice Department said.

An undercover FBI agent posing as an Al-Qaeda agent met with Alwan and recorded their meetings starting in August 2010.

"From September 2010 through May 2011, Alwan participated in ten separate operations to send weapons and money that he believed were destined for terrorists in Iraq," the Justice Department said.

In January 2011 Alwan recruited Hammadi, and until May 2011 the two helped ship money and weapons -- including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, and Stinger missiles -- that they believed were destined "for terrorists in Iraq."

All of the weapons had been rendered inert, the statement read.

Hammadi entered the United States in July 2009 and had initially lived in Las Vegas before settling in Kentucky, while his accomplice Alwan arrived three months earlier.

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