Chief Judge of Najaf, Kidnapped, Executed; Baghdad Official Killed
The chief judge in the Shiite shrine city of Najaf was kidnapped Monday, taken to the desert, and executed gangland style with bullets through his head. Judge Muhan Jabr al-Shuwaili had been in charge of investigating former Baath Party members and government employees in the region. Najaf prosecutor-general Aref Aziz was kidnapped with al-Shuwaili and reported, “”One of the assailants said ‘Saddam has ordered your prosecution.’ Then they fired two shots into his head,” Aziz said. “As for me, they told me ‘this does not concern you’. They released me,” he added.”
Al-Shuwaili had backed a commission to investigate the crimes of former Baathists, which has already issued 160 warrants, resulting in 50 actual arrests.
Likewise, on Sunday assailants had sprayed machine gun fire from a car at the American-appointed head of Karkh II borough in Baghdad, the biggest of the capital’s neighborhoods, killing Mustafa Zaidan al-Khalifah, 47. On October 28, another US-appointed Baghdad municipal official, Faris Abd al-Razzaq, had been assassinated.
Other officials narrowly escaped a similar fate on Monday. The director of the Najaf city council (an official of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq) just managed to avoid being killed, though no details were forthcoming. Likewise, the governor of Diyala and his lieutenant governor just managed to escape gunfire directed at their automobile.
There had been reports last week that some US officers in Iraq believe that Saddam is personally directing some guerrilla operations in Iraq. I have for some time thought that Saddam may have personally been behind the assassination of his old enemy, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, on Aug. 29. If Aref’s report of the fate of al-Shuwaili is accurate, it supports this interpretation of events. It is also a pretty scary thought.
At this rate, it may be increasingly difficult for the US to find Iraqis willing to work with it as officials.