Video of Teen Tortured by Security Forces Shocks Iraq

Iraqi demonstrators burn tires to block the road during a protest over poor public services in the city of Najaf. (Reuters)
Iraqi demonstrators burn tires to block the road during a protest over poor public services in the city of Najaf. (Reuters)
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Video of Teen Tortured by Security Forces Shocks Iraq

Iraqi demonstrators burn tires to block the road during a protest over poor public services in the city of Najaf. (Reuters)
Iraqi demonstrators burn tires to block the road during a protest over poor public services in the city of Najaf. (Reuters)

Despite the violations, kidnappings and assassinations that have targeted activists throughout the years by Iraq’s security forces and unknown militias, the country was still shocked by a video that showed a teen being tortured by Interior Ministry forces.

The video, which emerged on Saturday and was recorded some three months ago, showed Hamed Saeed Abed, 16, being beaten and insulted by the Ministry’s Law Preservation Forces for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at them during a protest. Abed was stripped naked, while one of the security forces shaved his head. Others asked him about his mother’s skin color, insulted her and his family.

The shocking video and the ensuing uproar prompted Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to order an investigation into the assault.

His spokesman said: “The prime minister and supreme commander of the armed forces ordered an immediate probe into the unethical and unprofessional treatment of a citizen.”

He also ordered Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanmi to form an investigative panel to probe the members of the Law Preservation Forces who were seen in the video.

The force was formed by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last year to confront the wave of anti-government protests. It was rumored that its members were chosen by political parties in order to ensure their loyalty to the government and the political blocs.

The video prompted demands for the disbandment of the force and renewed the debate over the practices of the security forces against protesters and even regular citizens while they are being held in detention or being investigated.

Security members often drag out confessions by force or resort to seeking bribes from detainees.

Ghanmi had openly acknowledged such violations some two weeks ago.

A judicial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the majority of confessions by suspects detained by security forces are usually made under threat of violence.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the Iraq judicial system still believes that confessions are the best form of evidence even though they are often made under duress. Most judicial systems in the world, meanwhile, no longer consider confessions as damning evidence against a suspect.

Media relations director at the Interior Ministry revealed that some of the security forces members seen in the video have been arrested, while efforts are underway to arrest the rest.

They will be held to account, he vowed.

However, the Interior Ministry later issued a statement alleging that the Abed was arrested in May for his attempted robbery of a motorcycle.

Activists slammed the statement, saying the ministry was attempting justify the torture.

The ministry took one step further by later releasing a video of the boy confessing to the robbery.

The video was recorded some three months ago, but was leaked to the media on Saturday. The sides responsible for the leak are unknown and neither are their motives, but some analysts believe the move is aimed at embarrassing Kadhimi’s government.



Iraqi Militias Threaten Israel, Sudani’s Govt Braces for Response

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. (AFP)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. (AFP)
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Iraqi Militias Threaten Israel, Sudani’s Govt Braces for Response

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. (AFP)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. (AFP)

Key Iraqi militias announced plans to join Lebanon’s Hezbollah in fighting Israel, putting Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s government in a tough spot as it must consider how Israel might respond if these groups carry out attacks from Iraqi territory.

Five months ago, the government secured a truce between militias and US forces. However, the developments in Gaza and escalating conflict in southern Lebanon have changed the situation.

On Sunday, the Iraqi militia Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada announced it would join any war between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel.

Kazem Al-Fartousi, spokesman for Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, announced that Iraq is part of the ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon.

“The wars in Gaza and Lebanon are part of a single axis, and Iraq is part of this axis,” he declared.

“We, as Iraqi factions, are already part of this war. We don't need to join it; we are inherently involved,” he added.

Al-Fartousi also stated that Iraqi factions are targeting Israel almost daily.

On Saturday, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militias announced a joint military operation with the Iraqi “Islamic Resistance” targeting four ships in Israel’s Haifa port.

Al-Fartousi warned that if Israel’s government takes any aggressive actions against Hezbollah, it would result in a significant defeat for Israel.

“If the Zionist entity’s government acts recklessly with Hezbollah in Lebanon, there will be a large graveyard for this entity, and everyone will help bury it,” he vowed.

On Friday, Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada announced the death of one of its members in a strike on the Iraq-Syria border. While the group accused American forces of targeting the vehicle, the US-led coalition denied carrying out any strike.

Al-Fartousi’s inflammatory remarks on behalf of so-called “Islamic Resistance factions” raise questions about their representation of the broader spectrum of Iraqi armed groups.

The US State Department designated Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada and its leader as Specially Designated Global Terrorists late last year.

A politician close to Iraq’s pro-Iran Coordination Framework revealed that the truce between Iraqi militias and US forces, brokered by al-Sudani, enjoyed the backing of the Framework.

The politician, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that recent attacks on American-branded restaurants and threats from militias do not represent all factions and may not lead to action.

“These incidents don't speak for all groups involved,” he clarified.

“The government is committed to safeguard foreign interests in Iraq, including embassies, companies, and other commercial or political entities,” he emphasized.

The government also won’t allow Iraq “to become a battleground for settling scores at the expense of its sovereignty and bilateral relations, including with the US,” he added.

This underscores Iraq’s commitment to maintaining stability and protecting international relationships amidst regional tensions, he stressed.