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Return of secret informants scares Sunnis in Iraq

During Nouri Al-Maliki's presidency, thousands of Iraqis were sent to prisons based on false information provided by secret informants
Image of armed soldier when the Iraqi Army and Hashd Al-Shaabi militias arrive at Saleh Village near Qayyarah on October 20 2016 [Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency]
Image of an armed Iraqi soldier [Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency]

The reactivation of a programme of secret informants in the predominantly Sunni Arab Iraqi province of Diyala has frightened residents who fear this would lead thousands of them to prisons by vengeful and deceitful informers, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported yesterday.

During the reign of former prime minister and current Vice President Nouri Al-Maliki, thousands of Iraqis were sent to prisons based on false information provided by secret informants. After an agreement with Sunni political groups and tribes, current Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi agreed to stop the use of these informants.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed cited a member of Diyala’s ministerial council as saying that the Shia militias in cooperation with the governorate’s administration “had reactivated and organised the work of secret informants.”

“The informants get funds and protection from the [Shia] militias in return for information they provide to the judiciary under what is described as support and cooperation with the security services.”

The unnamed source in Diyala added: “The [Shia] militias agreed with Diyala’s governor, Muthana Al-Tamimi, who is a leader in the militias, in order to release funds and provide protection for the informants, [using the excuse] that they would provide information about people cooperating with Daesh.”

The official said that the informants had already provided information about 150 people accused of “dealing with Daesh,” noting that the security services had already started inspection and arrest campaigns.

The use of informants has been likened to “witch hunts” whereby people with grudges inform on those with whom they have personal or business problems with, accusing them of being Daesh members or sympathisers.

Based upon such information, the Iraqi authorities then arrest these individuals, largely from the Sunni Arab community, and incarcerate them or even put them to death.

In light of this, the Tribal Council of Diyala warned against the reactivation of secret informants, saying that it would return the issue of “revenge” to the fore of Sunni Arab disenfranchisement which led to Daesh being able to find recruits who felt they had an opportunity to avenge themselves against what they deemed to be a sectarian government in Baghdad.

Sheikh Manaf Al-Majma’e told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Diyala needed to “revive the spirit of peaceful coexistence among its people,” expressing his sadness over measures taken by the officials in the province which are “completely against our needs.”

He reiterated that the Iraqi judiciary recognised that most of those arrested over information provided by secret informants in the past were innocent, yet this has not stopped the Iraqi government from utilising them in coordination with Iran-backed Shia militias who operate similar to organised crime outfits.

IraqMiddle EastNews
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