Iraq: 13 Insurgents Hanged

Iraq hanged 13 insurgents Thursday, marking the first time militants have been executed in the country since the U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein nearly three years ago, the government said.

The Cabinet announcement listed the name of only one of those hanged, Shukair Farid, a former policeman in the northern city of Mosul, who allegedly confessed that he had worked with Syrian foreign fighters to enlist fellow Iraqis to carry out assassinations against police and civilians.

"The competent authorities have today carried out the death sentences of 13 terrorists," the Cabinet statement said.

It said Farid had "confessed that foreigners recruited him to spread the fear through killings and abductions."

In September, Iraq hanged three convicted murderers, the first executions since the 2003 ouster of Saddam. They were convicted of killing three police officers, kidnapping and rape.

Iraqi authorities reinstated the death penalty after the end of the U.S.-led occupation in June 2004 so they would have the option of executing Saddam if he is convicted of crimes committed by his regime.

In other recent developments:

  • The American military said Thursday its new lockup near Baghdad airport to house security prisoners now held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison should be ready within three months. Once the U.S. moves prisoners to the new prison at Camp Cropper, a process that will take months, Abu Ghraib will be returned to Iraqi prison authorities, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

  • Also Thursday, a woman accountant was gunned down as she left her west Baghdad home for work, said police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun, who claimed she was attacked because she worked in the capital's American-controlled Green Zone said.

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday urged quick passage of a $91 billion spending bill that includes money to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Appearing with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld before the Senate Approporiations Committee, Rice said most Iraqis are convinced that their aims will succeed despite the persistent insurgency.

  • A day after Iraq's Shiite Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi co-signed a presidential decree to call parliament into session for the first time since the Dec. 15 elections, senior political leaders among the various parties and factions met for intense negotiations. Abdul-Mahdi's change of heart signaled a dangerous and growing internal dispute among the country's majority Shiite political factions over the nomination of al-Jaafari.

  • Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the war in Iraq on Wednesday, urging a troop drawdown as the U.S. enters its fourth year of conflict in Iraq. "It was a completely unnecessary war. It was an unjust war," said Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

  • The U.S. military reported the death of another Marine, killed Wednesday in insurgency-ridden Anbar province.

  • A "climate of extreme violence" exists in Iraq, according to the U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights abuses. The report found an increase in killings by members of the American-backed government and security forces dominated by sectarian militias. The government's ability to control the situation "handicapped by insurgency and terrorism," the report said.
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