London gay exiles provide details of execution-style murders in Iraq
A 14-year-old boy has been murdered by Iraqi police for having sex with men and thus “corrupting the community,” according to eyewitness accounts of the killing collected by a London-based group of gay Iraqi exiles, who have also provided details of a second such execution.
The police murder of the boy—Ahmed Khalil, 14, from Baghdad’s al-Dura district—is the latest in the highly-organized campaign of “sexual cleansing” that has seen a wave of beatings, kidnappings, and murders of Iraqi gays, following a death-to-gays fatwa issued last October by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the 77-year-old Iranian who is supreme spiritual leader of all Shia Muslims in Iraq.
(This reporter’s first story on the fallout out from the ayatollah’s fatwa, “Shia Death Squads Target Iraqi Gays,” published March 23 of this year, is available at gaycitynews.com/gcn_511/iraq.html).
Sistani’s anti-gay fatwa—available on his official Web site—says that “people involved” in homosexuality “should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”
“According to one neighbor, who witnessed Ahmed’s execution from his bedroom window, four uniformed police officers arrived at Ahmed’s house in a four-wheel-drive pick-up truck. This neighbor saw the police drag Ahmed out of the house and shoot him at point-blank range, pumping two bullets into his head and several more bullets into the rest of his body,“ said Ali Hili, a 33-year-old gay Iraqi exile who is coordinator of the Iraqi LGBT-U.K. Group (formerly known as the Abu Nawas Group). The group was founded five months ago by Hili and 30 other gay Iraqi exiles to support persecuted gay Iraqis and document the Shia murder campaign against them.
“The police who killed young Ahmed were masked to conceal their identities, so it was impossible to tell whether or not they were members of the Badr Corps,” Hili told Gay City News by telephone from London, but added, “According to our contacts in Baghdad, the Iraqi police have been heavily infiltrated by the Badr Corps, which is using its members in the police to impose a fundamentalist morality in Iraq.”
The Badr Corps is the military arm of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the powerful group that is the largest political formation in Iraq’s Shia community, and has taken the lead in the anti-gay murder campaign of sexual cleansing that has engulfed Iraqi gay men. SCIRI was headquartered in exile in Tehran until Saddam Hussein’s fall. The group venerates Sistani as its spiritual guide.
The Badr Corps members wear the uniforms of the Iraqi police under the control of the Interior Ministry.
The anti-gay reign of terror in Iraq represents the importation of the lethal anti-gay pogrom being carried out in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been extensively reported in Gay City News since the execution of two gay teenagers in Mashad last July.
Sistani was born and trained in Iran. Moreover, the salaries of the Badr Corps are paid by Iran—a fact confirmed by a counselor of Sistani‘s, Ali Debbagh, a member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, in a February 17 interview with Le Monde.
“It is unclear whether Ahmed was gay or not,” said Hili, adding that the boy’s murder took place in early April. “He had sex with men, often in exchange for small amounts of money and food in order to help his family financially. Ahmed was a victim of poverty as well as of anti-gay hatred and religious fundamentalism. Sometimes Ahmed and his family were so desperate, the boy had sex for a few potatoes or some bread.”
Hili said that, according to reports gathered by his group’s friends and contacts in Baghdad, “Ahmed Khalil was a likeable, playful 14-year-old, born in the southern Iraqi town of al-Ammara. The eldest child, Ahmed—who is survived by a brother and sister—came from an uneducated family who lived in great poverty. With no income or welfare support in al-Ammara, Ahmed’s family moved to Baghdad a couple of years ago, after the fall of Saddam Hussein.”
“Ahmed’s father worked as a night watchman on a building site for the pitiful wage of $10 a month,” Hili said, “plus permission for him and his family to live on the construction site. They lived a life of desolation and destitution in the shell of the unfinished buildings. Ahmed’s gay reputation spread all over his neighborhood, causing great scandal. His sexual behavior was reported to the police by informants in the community. Badr Corps maintains a network of such informants who report on what they consider immoral behavior.”
Hili said that several other neighbors confirmed the accounts of the police murder of Ahmed.
“These other neighbors said that, although they did not see the actual shooting, they heard gunshots and saw the police leaving the scene, then found Ahmed’s body lying on the ground outside his house. Because Ahmed’s family is so poor, they could not afford a funeral for their son. The day after Ahmed was murdered, his family moved out of the area, fearing police retribution and denunciation within the local community.”
“Only days ago, we received reports of the murder of another boy, about the same age as Ahmed, who was also murdered execution-style because he had sex with men,” Hili told Gay City News this past weekend. “The boy was found blind-folded, with his hands tied behind his back and shot through the back of his head.
“We are in the process of assembling further documentation, photographs, etc., in this new case. Ahmed was only one of many hundreds of Iraqi boys and girls who sell their bodies to survive and to support their impoverished families. Our gay contacts in Baghdad are endeavoring to help rescue teenagers pressured into prostitution, often by criminal gangs.
“Iraqi LGBT Group in London and Baghdad has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross, and the Red Crescent, as well as international aid agencies, to take action to aid poor Iraqi families so that children no longer feel obliged to resort to sex-for-money in order to survive.”
Hili also said that he and the Iraqi LGBT-U.K. Group have been under heavy pressure from representatives of Sistani, in Najaf, Iraq, and elsewhere, to retract their denunciations of his anti-gay fatwa and apologize for attacking the ayatollah. Hili himself has received numerous threats from Sistani’s supporters in the U.K.
“But we and our gay comrades in Iraq will not back down,” Hili said.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at
HOW TO HELP GAY IRAQIS
The all-volunteer London-based Iraqi LGBT-U.K. Group desperately needs money to buy the LGBT activists in Iraq a computer, Webcam, and scanner, plus Internet and phone access, in order to assist their efforts to document the wave of homophobic murders in Iraq and communicate them to the outside world.
Iraqi LGBT-U.K. does not yet have its own bank account. They are working closely with the LGBT human rights group OutRage! in London. Donations to help Iraqi LGBT in the U.K. and in Iraq should be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, U.K.