Two stories were told about a "mass grave" that was uncovered in Diyala.
General Abdulhussein al Shammeri, police chief of Diyala province told AFP, "We found 153 bodies of men, women and children. Of the men, some were in civilian clothing; others in army or police uniforms. We were able to uncover this mass grave as a result of confessions made by a suspect we detained some two weeks ago".
To al Mashriq newspaper he added, "Most of them were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs – the hallmark of Qaida assassinations. We believe they were victims of al Qaida.
The area in which the "mass grave" was found was a well known Qaida hot bed, especially during 2006 and 2007. It lies 35 miles to the northeast of Baghdad, 12 miles to the south of Baquba, Diyala's provincial capital.
This was the story that major Iraqi press adopted – And why not? A named source – a general no less, gave the information.
But another story was told by Reuters:
One hundred and fifty three individual graves had been unearthed yesterday and today….. A tribal leader in the area had told Reuters that the site was well known as "the cemetery of mujahideen" – a reference to the al Qaida fighters who battled U.S. and Iraqi forces.
This great big discrepancy – Why?? Could it be two different sites, a mass grave and a cemetary - or what?? - I couldn't help myself – I had to check.
I called our Diyala stringer and this is what I got:
"I was there. I saw them myself. It was incredible – the way they were each buried - individually, according to the word of Islamic tradition: their faces towards the Kaaba (Mekka), the libna (mud brick) under the head, the white shroud – complete to the smallest detail.
"Since when did al Qaida burry its victims observing such details?? No – These were Qaida fighters for sure".
SO – I ask: What benefit would security forces gain by distorting this story? Is it to sow more hatred for al Qaida? And if this story – this unashamed statement by a General, is a lie – Then what else is a lie? And to what end?
Is this how the Iraqi security forces hope to gain the trust of the Iraqi people? And if we can't believe a General - a chief of police of a province ….???