Saturday, February 25, 2006

BAGHDADIS LIVE IN FEAR of informants betraying them to the Iraqi police or the paramilitary death squads.

Fear of informants turning in neighbors to police or militia groups has deeply undermined community trust in many parts of Baghdad.

Ahmed Ali, a 34-year-old barber in the ethnically mixed and violent Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, walked away from his business last month because he worried that his chitchat with customers would lead neighbors to suspect that he was informing on them to police -- or militias, or whoever -- and that he'd be marked for a retaliatory killing.

That's been happening a lot in Dora.

A word to the police can result in uniformed security officers or even private soldiers in fake uniforms dragging residents from their homes in the middle of the night - without legitimate cause, the victims complain. Angry and confused, their families suspect that neighborhood informants are feeding lies to the security forces to settle personal scores. The raids also have sown doubts that government security forces can protect the people.

Neighbors and friends becoming potential enemies; living in the knowledge that you can't trust anyone; knowing that you could be picked up by the militia anytime and never be seen again.

Doesn't this sound an awful lot like life under Saddam Hussein?

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