Documents allege U.S. Army kidnapped wives of enemy fighters

Saturday, January 28, 2006

United States military documents indicate that the U.S. Army has taken and incarcerated wives of suspected enemy fighters for "leveraging" purposes against their husbands; but Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. command spokesman, said only Iraqi women who pose an "imperative threat" are being held.

A U.S. intelligence officer claimed that, in one instance, the young mother of a nursing baby was locked up and in another case, one American colonel suggested to another colonel that they lure the husband of a kidnapped wife by putting a note on the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

Female detentions by coalition forces have become more of an issue since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll and demanded that all Iraqi women detainees be freed.

Thursday the U.S. military did free five women. All of the released women had been accused of "aiding terrorists or planting explosives," but an Iraqi government commission found there was insufficient evidence to continue holding them.

Hind al-Salehi, an Iraqi human rights activist, claims that U.S. units sometimes detained wives to pressure men into turning themselves in.

Busho Ibrahim Ali, Iraq's deputy justice minister, denied Ali's claims and said hostage-holding was a tactic used under the regime of Saddam Hussein and that "we are not Saddam."

However, newly released Pentagon documents said; "During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," wrote a 14-year veteran intelligence officer. The intelligence officer said he objected, but that when they raided the house a senior sergeant, who was the team leader, seized her anyway.

"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer wrote.

In the released documents most names and signatures are blacked out.

In a second e-mail, a staff officer asked another officer, "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband — have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?"

The deputy commander of the brigade advised his higher command two days later, "As each day goes by, I get more input that these gals have some info and/or will result in getting the husband. These ladies fought back extremely hard during the original detention. They have shown indications of deceit and misinformation."

The reply was, "CG wants the husband."(CG meaning commanding general).

Johnson said this indicated justification for the detention of the woman, "It is clear the unit believed the females detained had substantial knowledge of insurgent activity and warranted being held."