Indications, Tuesday, emerged of a reprisal sectarian slaughter of Sunnis in Iraq, at the same time as Iraqi ambassador to the United States warned of ‘a thousand’ Osama bin Ladens.
“What you have in Afghanistan, with one Bin Laden you will have a thousand of them,” Ambassador Lukman Faily said, emphasising that the geopolitical impact of a proliferation of such terrorists would be global – not just regional.
The comment was made by Mr Faily in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Police meanwhile reported pro-government Shiite militiamen killing nearly four dozen detainees after insurgents tried to storm a jail northeast of Baghdad.
A local morgue official said many of the detainees had bullet wounds to the head and chest, though the Iraqi military insisted the Sunni inmates were killed by mortar shells in the attack on the facility outside the city of Baqouba.
In Baghdad, meanwhile, the bullet-riddled bodies of four men in their late 20s or early 30s, presumably Sunnis, were found at different locations in the Shiite neighborhood of Benouk, according to police and morgue officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk with the media.
The discovery was a grim reminder of a dark chapter in Iraq’s history when nearly a decade ago the city woke up virtually every morning to find dozens of bodies dumped in the streets, trash heaps or in the Tigris river with torture marks or gunshot wounds.
The allegation of Shiite killings of Sunnis near Baqouba and in Baghdad were the first hints of the beginnings of a return to sectarian warfare that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007. Sunni militants also have been accused of atrocities – an apparent attempt to provoke Shiite militias into revenge attacks that would strengthen the hand of an al-Qaeda splinter group within Iraq’s Sunni community.
Disturbing video has also emerged showing heavily armed boys no older than 10 calmly watching Sunni rebel fighters blow away a prisoner with a bullet to the back of the head, the New York Post reports.
Reportedly filmed in Mosul, the grisly footage shows a masked man being heckled by a swarm of jihadi fighters — including children brandishing automatic weapons. The doomed man is then blasted in the head and killed as the rebels celebrate in the background.
A UN commission warned on Tuesday that “a regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer” as Sunni insurgents advance across Iraq to control areas bridging the Iraq-Syria frontier. It said Iraq’s turmoil will have “violent repercussions” in Syria, most dangerously the rise of sectarian violence as “a direct consequence of the dominance of extremist groups.”