Socialist Worker

Iraq investigator: troops should have shot, not crucified prisoner

Issue No. 2022

Awayed Wanas Jabbar paid a cruel price for his bid for freedom. The Iraqi, nicknamed Houdini, was captured by US marines in the town of Husaybah, western Iraq, in April 2004.

Two days later he was found hooded and “crucified” on an iron window frame at a US base. He died shortly afterwards.

No US soldier will be held accountable for his murder.

Jabbar’s story has come to light in military documents released to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jabbar, along with 60 other Iraqis, was rounded up during the uprising of April 2004.

Under torture Jabbar would only admit that he was a shepherd. Convinced they had netted a “foreign fighter”, he was set aside for further questioning.

Bound with plastic cuffs and hooded, Jabbar proved resourceful. He slipped out of his bindings several times and attempted to escape.

Recaptured, he was being interrogated again when the base came under attack.

The guards tied him to a ground floor window and used him as a human sandbag. He slipped out of his bindings again and attempted another escape.

According to the report Jabbar was recaptured after falling two feet out of a window.

He was examined by a medic who found a “small gash on his head”.

Soldiers then “crucified him” on the window using engineer tape. His hands and feet were tightly bound to the bars, while reels of tape were wrapped tightly around his midriff.

When the medic called several hours later he discovered Jabbar had “a broken nose, swollen eyebrows, and cuts on his face”.

After being cut down, Jabbar heaved two breaths and expired. His body was handed over to Iraqi troops and buried before any post-mortem could be carried out.

The documents then reveal a sickening justification for the murder of the young man. The investigator refers constantly to the fact that the base commander and five soldiers were killed in an ambush.

The swelling on his face could not be from a “pummelling by guards”, he concludes, because soldiers were ordered not to strike prisoners.

Furthermore the cause of death was not asphyxiation, but due to injuries he sustained falling out of the window.

Jabbar was then labelled a drug addict and “foreign fighter seeking martyrdom”.

Rather than tie Jabbar to the window, the military policeman concludes, the “guards would have been within their authority to shoot him”.

To view declassified documents on the “war on terror”, go to

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Sat 14 Oct 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2022
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