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‘Strange Fruit’ in Iraq; Journalist Who Probed Torture and Executions is Murdered


by Lizz Brown


Yasser Salihee is dead.

He was on his way to drive his family to a swimming pool in western Baghdad when he was struck by a single bullet to head – he died instantly.


Some say he was an unintentional casualty of war. Some whisper “the wolves got him.”

You see, since May, Dr. Salihee, had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that has been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi “insurgency.” Our government calls it Operation Lightening.


To be clear, there is no shame in the game of the US military – they make no secret that the Wolf Brigade is modeled after the death squads in El Salvador. In fact, up until April 2005, the main advisor to the Wolf Brigade was a man named James Steele.

According to New York Times Magazine, Jim Steele was in charge of a team of 55 Special Forces advisers in El Salvador who “trained front-line battalions that were accused of significant human rights abuses.” In fact while Jim Steele was in charge, “whole villages were targeted by the armed forces and their inhabitants massacred.''

When battered and methodically beaten dead bodies started showing up in Iraq, Dr Salihee started reporting. Dr Salihee wrote about bodies in the morgue with their hands tied or handcuffed behind their backs. Bodies with their eyes blindfolded appearing to have been tortured, whipped with cords and subjected to electric shocks. Bodies beaten with blunt objects and shot to death, often with a single bullet. Bodies found in mass graves and bodies floating in rivers.


Dr Salihee also reported that many of the members of the Wolf Brigade came from Saddam Hussein’s Special Forces and Republican Guards. Indeed, these men were decorated veterans of homicide, genocide and torture.


On June 28th 2005, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran Dr Salihee’s last article. The very first sentence read: “Days after Iraq's new Shiite-led government was announced on April 28, the director of Baghdad's central morgue began noticing that the bodies of Sunni Muslim men were turning up after the men had been detained by people wearing Iraqi police uniforms.”


Dr Salihee, along with reporter Tom Lasseter, went on to state: “further evidence that a police force created, trained and funded by the United States has been abusing human rights …would complicate the Bush administration’s efforts to muster greater domestic support for its Iraq policy.”


The most chilling words however, were the words from the mouth of a young man who was abducted by men in police uniforms. "The commandos told me to keep the body outside of the refrigerator so that the dogs could eat it because he's a terrorist and he deserves it."


Yasser Salihee, translator, physician, special correspondent, husband, father to two-year-old Danya, was killed 4 days before his story ran.


The Wolf Brigade says that they are patriots. They utilize television to depict the insurgency’s humiliation. In fact, “Terrorist in the Grip of Justice” is the most watched TV program in the country. They wear snappy red berets and ride around in white $55,000 vehicles. When children get too out of hand their parents threaten them with “calling the wolves.” One young man was quoted as saying “when I see them I feel safe. I feel we have a country with a government.”


It appears Operation Lightning has quite a fan base.


I remember a time in the United States when bodies with their hands tied behind their backs were found floating in rivers. Bodies never identified by loved ones. Bodies buried in mass graves.


The organization that put them there has quite a fan base too.

A few weeks ago, during the trial of the Klansman that helped kill and then bury the bodies of three young men, former Mayor Harlan Majure, testified that Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was a good man and the Klan “did a lot of good up here”.


Three young men, civil rights workers, were shot and killed forty years ago because “the law” in the land of Mississippi branded them trouble makers.


In 1892, Fredrick Douglas said “Crime has a power to reproduce itself and create conditions favorable to its own existence.”


Yasser Salihee is dead.



Lizz Brown is host of the Morning Wake Up Call, WGNU Radio, St. Louis. She can be reached through her website:

This article originally posted by

© 2002-2005, All Rights Reserved   Reprinted with permission.


Posted  August 01, 2005

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