Sunni insurgents in Iraq recently carried out a wave of bloody attacks in reprisal for a young woman's alleged rape by Shias. But the rape may never have taken placeby Nibras Kazimi / April 29, 2007 / Leave a comment
In March, the al-Furqan Institute for Media Productions issued footage of a group of blindfolded men, kneeling in a shallow ditch, being executed. They were said to be members of a group of 18 Iraqi soldiers and policemen who had been abducted two days earlier while on leave from their units in Diyala province. The group that claimed responsibility, the al Qaeda-led Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), had earlier issued an ultimatum to the Iraqi government: unless its demands were met, all the abductees would be killed within 24 hours. Four of the bodies that were later found had been decapitated.
The group’s key demand was the handover of the officers of a public order brigade accused of raping a 20-year-old Sunni woman called Sabreen al-Janabi. In mid-February, Janabi had appeared on Al-Jazeera to describe her ordeal, and the Sunni Arab world went ballistic.
The television interview had been arranged by the Islamic Party of Iraq, the largest Sunni party in parliament, the head of which, Tariq al-Hashemi, is Iraq’s vice-president. The story was pitched as an example of how the Shias had gone too far in molesting Sunni honour, as embodied by Janabi. A few days later, the chief of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, released a video of a speech in which he claimed that “honour has been ruptured, and religion has been desecrated.” After hearing about Janabi’s rape, he said, “300 native Iraqi fighters have asked to be enrolled in martyrdom operations… 50 of them are from the Janabi tribe, and 20 of those have asked to marry you if you are not already married.”
Not to be outdone, the emir of the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI), the second biggest Sunni insurgent group, put out a speech announcing that his group’s operations for the next month would be called “Sabreen’s vengeance.” Since these pronouncements, the ISI has launched several attacks under the banner of “Avenging Honour,” while the IAI has dubbed its campaign “Aiding Our Sisters.” Both groups claim to have inflicted hundreds of casualties on US and Iraqi forces.
…and the Shia floozy
But it turns out that there is no Sabreen al-Janabi, that the person claiming to be her is not a Sunni, and that it is very unlikely that she was assaulted. The Iraqi deputy interior minister for intelligence, a Kurd, has produced documents claiming to…