Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Escapes From Iraq’s Prisons

(Black Anthem)
On May 20, 2011 it was reported that five Mahdi Army commanders escaped from Taji Prison, Salahaddin. A number of prisoners were going to be transferred to Karkh Prison, Baghdad under the supervision of the Rapid Reaction Force, when three were reported missing. Another source claimed that none had fled, and all were in Baghdad. The next day the Justice Ministry denied any escapes, but then confirmed that five Mahdi Army commanders, one of which was a senior leader, had in fact, slipped their guards during the transfer process. The Ministry claimed that they had help from politicians, parties, the prison administration, and the guards. The leadership of the prison was immediately replaced. Back in January a leader from the League of the Righteous Special Group was able to get out of the same facility.

This was just the latest escape or attempt from one of Iraq’s prisons. Twelve days before, Al Qaeda in Iraq members staged a revolt at the Interior Ministry building in the capital to try to get away. In January, several senior Al Qaeda leaders were able to slip out of a prison at the Basra Presidential Palace. What all three events had in common, was that the detainees had inside help. That ranged from the guards all the way up to officials in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office in the case of the January escape. It’s obvious that the government has been penetrated at all levels by militants, be they Shiite or Sunni. Sympathizers, money or threats may all be at play, but whatever was the case, insurgents and militias were able to gain important intelligence and assistance from within the bureaucracy, and have been able to break out a number of their senior members as a result.


Alsumaria, “5 Mehdi Army chiefs escape from Taji prison,” 5/20/11
- “Iraq Justice Ministry: Prisoners escape is an organized scheme,” 5/21/11

Al-Shammari, Yazan, “Minister: There was no prison break,” AK News, 5/21/11

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