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Alaska soldiers rescue Iraqis from torture house, execution
Anchorage Daily News


March 06, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Fort Richardson paratroopers searching for an enemy munitions site in Karmah rescued two Iraqi men from an al Qaeda torture house last week, their commander said.

One of the two prisoners freed, an Iraqi police officer, had been shot in both ankles, Lt. Col. Valery Keaveny said Monday in a teleconference call from Iraq. The other, an Iraqi citizen, had been strung up and whipped with cable.




The two men said their captors, with al Qaeda in Iraq, told them they would be killed and offered them the option of being shot in the head or beheaded, Keaveny said. Their executions were postponed because a video camera wasn't working.

The captors said they would return the next day to execute the men, but the paratroopers showed up in the meantime, Keaveny said.

Soldiers with the 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Division were acting on a tip from an Iraqi citizen about the location of a munitions site when they found the torture room behind a locked door, he said. A similar tip last week led members of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment to a huge bomb factory.

This time, paratroopers found another big complex with stockpiles of chemicals and other materials - including 1.1 million pounds of aluminum sulfate, 28,800 liters of formaldehyde and 168 boxes of sugar, Keaveny said.

Soldiers also recovered large amounts of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, he said. Keaveny speculated that al Qaeda may be operating a black market in such goods to help finance its operations.

Keaveny said the two Iraqi captives apparently had been abducted the same day paratroopers discovered them. The men told soldiers they had been subjected to "an illegal, unauthorized court" proceeding. "They were to be executed, but the insurgents' camera failed," he said.

Coalition forces evacuated the injured men by air to medical facilities west of Baghdad.

Keaveny said his men have been operating in Karmah since late December. Karmah is a village about 18 miles west of Baghdad.

At the beginning, several hundred insurgents were in the area, but Keaveny said his forces have "removed well over 150."

Cooperation from Iraqi locals is an important and increasing factor in that equation, he said.

"The locals are sick and tired ... of the murder and intimidation campaign" being waged by insurgents, he said.



Anchorage Daily News reporter Don Hunter can be reached at
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