Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Torture victims of Saddam Hussein are warning the United States that their former tormentors are seeking new positions in Iraq by working with authorities in the U.S.-led occupation.

“Those are the enemies of the U.S. and of Iraq, the same people who burn the bodies of Americans,” said Salah Zinad, 38. “Don’t bring them back.”

Mr. Zinad and four other torture victims delivered their message at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) on Tuesday.

Basim Al Fadhly, a journalist at an Iraqi television station, said the problem is that Saddam’s henchmen are working with U.S. forces, in part because the American military doesn’t have adequate knowledge of their backgrounds and histories.

The torturers change their identifications and addresses to avoid detection, Mr. Al Fadhly said.

He said a former member of Saddam’s Ba’ath Party leads a workers’ group inside the Green Zone, the protected area in central Baghdad that houses the U.S. military and occupation forces.

Another Iraqi, Ala Suboh, said: “The tragic fact is that those criminals are still free in the streets. They threaten others from speaking out against the [Saddam] government.”

Qasim Kadhim, 47, an Iraqi businessman, encouraged other victims of Saddam’s regime to come forward to identify the torturers and bring them to justice.

The five speakers had their right arms amputated during the Saddam era at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

They came to the United States in April, first to Houston, to receive prosthetic hands.

They showed a 4-minute video clip of Fedayeen Saddam soldiers with their faces covered, cutting off the fingers, arms, tongues and heads of Iraqi men.

One clip shows doctors amputating an Iraqi man’s hand. The video was discovered by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Mr. Kadhim said he was disappointed that the U.S. media have not shown interest in displaying the full extent of Saddam’s crimes to the American public.

Michael Ledeen, a resident scholar at AEI, said the video illustrates “the norm of tyrannical regimes in the Middle East.”

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