February 23, 2007

The Desperate Perversity of al-Qaeda

Hatched by Dafydd

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has a new tactic: they have begun recruiting suicide bombers to "avenge" the as-yet unsubstantiated charges that Iraqi security forces are raping Sunni women.

But are the accusers themselves part of the conspiracy, or are they telling the truth about their victimization? It's awfully peculiar that in a Moslem-Arab society like Iraq -- where rapes are rarely disclosed, even when the victim is utterly blameless, for fear of being ostracized -- that Sunni women would level the charge of rape on television:

Sunni insurgent groups including al-Qaida in Iraq have called for revenge attacks after second rape allegation against the Shiite-dominated security forces.

The second rape allegation to be made in a television interview -- an unusual development in Iraq, where the crime is rarely reported or spoken of -- is putting more pressure on the Iraqi government, its army and police in their desperate fight against the country's enduring Sunni insurgency and sectarian violence.

The al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, purportedly called on his followers Thursday to step up attacks on Iraqi security forces to avenge the alleged rapes in Baghdad and the northern town of Tal Afar near the Syrian border.

As usual, the elite media has seized upon the charges and shoehorned them into "the story" they've been telling since Day 0 of the invasion: That Iraq is a quagmire, that it's just like Vietnam, that we're destined to be defeated:

At least six groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq, have called for revenge.... The latest rape allegation, made by a 50-year-old woman from Tal Afar, is likely to further undermine.... Sunni Arab politicians opposed to the Shiite-led government have seized on the charges.... Harith al-Dhari, the head of the hardline Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told Iraq's Al-Sharqiya television that he knew of hundreds of rapes...

We can state several points with certainty:

  • On the one hand, with some 200,000+ members of the Iraqi Army and National Police, the odds that at least one has committed a rape at some point approach 100%. The same can be said about any American unit of similar size -- or a collection of a similar number of male teachers or bakers or rabbis;
  • But on the other hand, the old feminist mantra that "women never lie about rape" is demonstrably false; women file thousands of false rape allegations every year... the Tawana Brawley case was only the most visible. Women lie about rape to avoid taking blame for an affair, for ideological reasons, during divorces and custody battles, and of course for money;
  • On the third hand, if a woman really were raped by police, she would probably be reluctant to report the rape to the same police, even at a different precinct. In such a case, the unusual step of making the accusation publicly, via press conference or interview, might actually make sense as a form of self-defense;
  • On the fourth hand, we know that al-Qaeda and other Sunni and Shiite combatants in Iraq are prone to make wild and false accusations in order to stir up opposition to Coalition forces and the fledgling Iraqi government. Iraq has its own version of "Pallywood," and there are plenty of Iraqi stringers who will say anything for money, for fame, or for ideological reasons. "Jamil Hussein" springs to mind (whose name, in fact, is positively not Jamil Hussein), as does Bilal Hussein (now in American custody), the photographer who took those pictures of al-Qaeda murders on Haifa Street;
  • But on the fifth hand, some of the worst allegations against American soldiers appear to have some truth to them... such as the rape and murder of a teenaged girl in Haditha, for which several American soldiers have actually pled guilty and offered to testify against others. So just because a charge is extraordinary doesn't mean it's automatically false... but it does require extraordinary evidence.

All of which adds up to a great big "Maybe" about the specific rape charges in question. I have no trouble believing that some Iraqi soldiers might consider rape a privilege of conquest; but contrariwise, it certainly is convenient for al-Qaeda On the Ropes, which can use the horrific allegations to stir up more resentment and hatred against the government and recruit more fanatics to the cause.

(After all, as any Iraqi can tell you, it's a thousand times worse for a Sunni woman to be raped than for a Shiite woman to see all of her children blow up by a suicide car bomb... al-Qaeda's specialty in Iraq.)

[Ayyub Masri] also claimed in an audio tape that 300 followers have volunteered for suicide missions within hours of hearing news of the alleged rape in Baghdad, which the woman said took place in a police garrison.

Is this really true? Even if the rapes actually occurred, that doesn't mean that al-Qaeda's recruitment has really been this successful -- or that it has increased at all, for that matter. To paraphrase Charles Bronson in Breakheart Pass, if a man is a terrorist and mass murderer, he may also be a liar.

In fact, there is yet a third possibility regarding the rapes: whenever we raid an al-Qaeda not-so-safehouse, in addition to weapons, explosives, deadly chemicals, computers, and jihadist literature, we always seem to find an entire wardrobe of fake or stolen uniforms -- from the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi National Police, or our own Army or Marines. Even assuming the rapes actually occurred, do we really know the perpetrators were actually policemen? Could they not have been al-Qaeda themselves, disguised as Iraqi police?

If a Sunni terrorist is willing to murder scores of innocent people, including Sunnis, to slake the thirst of his death god, he may be even more willing to rape Sunni women for the same purpose. For that matter, members of the Mahdi Militia or the Badr Organization might also don police uniforms and go on a rape spree, just for the thrill of pure evil.

The problem is that Iraq is still a primitive country. In America today, when something terrible happens and people leap to a conclusion about who is guilty, we can usually still rely upon our deep trust in the jury system: When a popular person is convicted or an unpopular one acquitted, we very rarely see mass violence as a result.

But even now, it happens here occasionally: for example, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, sparked by the acquittal of four police officers in the Rodney King beating case, ended with 53 people killed and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from arson and looting.

In Iraq, such mini-uprisings are common. There are plenty of unemployed, young vaqueros just standing around, looking for any kind of excitement they can find (or make themselves). It seems inevitable that these accusations -- which I predict will accelerate massively over the next few weeks -- will lead to protests, riots, and mass murders.

The only thing we can do about it is to ride it out. Investigate cases, severely punish anyone found guilty, but heavily publicize any case where there is proof that a Sunni woman lied about a rape allegation (especially if we can prove she has an al-Qaeda connection)... and crush the riots as they spring up. Rioters and murderers must be prosecuted, and the defense of "rape rage" must specifically be banned. Eventually, information overload will set in, and people will simply stop reacting to such charges by going on a rampage.

President Jalal Talabani, breaking his silence on the political storm swirling around the rape allegations, has appealed for calm, saying the courts were the only place where such cases should be settled.

"Today, we need to trust one another and avoid whatever shakes that trust, stokes sensitivities or fill hearts with malice," Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, said in a statement issued by his office late Thursday.

The tactic, whether the original accusations are true or false, is another indication that our enemy is vicious, ruthless, and utterly perverse (as if we needed such). But as a country becomes civilized, interconnected with the rest of the world, and joins what Thomas P.M. Barnett calls "the Functioning Core," this is a cultural change is must eventually confront: that justice is best handled by a civil and criminal court system, not tribal warfare.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 23, 2007, at the time of 3:02 PM

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Tracked on February 24, 2007 10:15 PM


The following hissed in response by: West

I find a comparison with our country to raise some irony. As Iraq tries to approach a more stable civilization and the rule of law, particularly as regards rape, ours recedes from it's closer position to those ideals with extremist (by our standards) groups convicting alleged rape perpetrators without trials and perversion of the legal process which undermines our existing trust in the legal process.

Maybe we can someday wave to each other as our two cultural trains pass in opposite directions.

The above hissed in response by: West [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2007 3:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I heard or read somewhere that the rapists were supposedly Sunni as well. Sunni working with the government. I think the thing I find the most disgusting is that Saddam Hussein kept rapists on his payroll for years and yet no one seemed to mind. Except the victims and their families of course.

So how will they know? Will there be DNA or anything like that?

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 24, 2007 4:24 AM

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