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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Michael Yon - Drilling for Justice

Baqubah

by Michael Yon

There is much work to do here, especially if the Iraqi Police continue to perform below expectations. The absence of strong local leadership is a large part of the reason AQI was able to move in and set up a shadow government in Baqubah, complete with its own court system, torture house and prison. These three pegs of the AQI justice system have been found here in the past week. The judges who administer Sharia law and issue fatwas are called Muftis. A Mufti is a “high value target” because he would have deep connections in AQI in order to have such a trusted position of power.

Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had tarnished its name here by publicly attacking and murdering children, videotaping beheadings, all while imposing harsh punishments on Iraqi civilians found guilty of violating morality laws prohibiting activities like smoking. The AQI installed Sharia court had sanctioned the amputation of the two “smoking fingers” for those who violated anti-smoking laws. In part because local sentiment was shifting against it, AQI synthesized with other groups and undertook an image makeover, christening itself “The Islamic State of Iraq.” But the new name was just lipstick on a pig here.

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