Thursday, August 03, 2006

In Iraq, It’s Hard to Trust Anyone in Uniform - New York Times

In Iraq, It’s Hard to Trust Anyone in Uniform - New York Times: "“Whenever I see uniforms now, I figure they must be militias,” Mr. Hamid said in a recent interview. “I immediately try to avoid them. If I have my gun, I know I need to be ready to use it.”

Such is the attitude of Iraqis in this capital shellshocked and made fearful by violence that seems to be committed almost daily by men dressed as those who are supposed to protect and serve. The audacious kidnapping on Monday was just the latest case of men using the signals of law and safety — a uniform, a vehicle with blue lights, a patch on the sleeve — to attack and abduct.

Everywhere Iraqis in uniform go, from ice cream shops to checkpoints, people now flee. The mottled mix of green, blue and khaki camouflage, along with the blue shirts of the local police, have all blurred into a flag for alarm. “En eles,” Iraqis in Baghdad now say when a friend has been taken; in traditional Arabic it means chewed up, but in the streets it has come to mean taken by mysterious men without explanation.

American and Iraqi officials have been promising for weeks to address the problem. This week, the interior minister, Jawad Bolani, acknowledged that rogues were among his ranks. He told Parliament that new uniforms and identification cards would soon be supplied to hobble those “who carry out bad activities under the cover of this institution.”"


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