Sunday, September 19, 2004

An Iraqi Woman in Abu Ghraib

Huda Alazawi, a 39-year-old Iraqi woman held by the United States in Abu Ghraib for 157 days, tells her story in The Guardian. She maintains that she was falsely imprisoned after refusing to give in to blackmail efforts by an Iraqi informer. In Abu Ghraib, Alazawi claims ot have witnessed the murder of one of her brothers and the sexual humiliation of another. Describing the situation in the prison before the torture scandal broke, Alazawi said,

The guards used wild dogs. I saw one of the guards allow his dog to bite a 14-year-old boy on the leg. The boy's name was Adil. Other guards frequently beat the men. I could see the blood running from their noses. They would also take them for compulsory cold showers even though it was January and February. From the very beginning, it was mental and psychological war.

Whether Alazawi's story is true or not, two things are certain: first, what we do know from the Army's investigation makes stories like this one more credible and, second, many Muslims will believe the story because it conforms to what they have been hearing about the United States from their clerics and, in some cases, their governments.

It is almost impossible to overstate the damage done to America's image in the Muslim world by the Abu Ghraib scandal. If it seems that the story has died down, it's only because the American press--focused as it is on the presidential election--is no longer covering it with the same level of interest the press elsewhere in the world continues to show.