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Monday, July 19, 2004

Thug Life

The Allawi story from the Sydney paper this weekend is breaking wider. The Christian Science Monitor runs a profile of the new strongman, touching on his past involvement with both Saddam and the Baath Party, as well as the CIA. The mention in this piece, along with the drive-by in Newsweek opens the door a little wider still. This is a story that will undoubtedly be spreading in the days and weeks to come. To spend hundreds of billions of dollars, to sacrifice almost a thousand of America's soldiers, to kill thousands of Iraqi civilians, to depose one brutal thug regime and replace it with another is, though par for the course, despicable nonetheless.

To his friends, Allawi is just the man to back up his tough talk. But his first few weeks in power have also seen the former Baathist dodging controversy. His foreign-intelligence ties have made him an easy target from domestic opponents.

He has also been accused of murder. Over the weekend, Australia's The Age newspaper cited two anonymous sources as saying they witnessed Allawi murder six alleged insurgents with a pistol at an Interior Ministry compound in mid- to late June. The report drew vigorous denials from Allawi and his aides.

But the story was widely believed because of Allawi's past. And that's not necessarily a draw-back. The most popular things he's done so far have been to reinstate the death penalty and to order mass arrests of alleged criminal gang members, with police delivering public beatings to many of the suspects.

And let's not forget what Allawi himself had to say about the reports of him assassinating insurgents with his own two hands.

Asked by NEWSWEEK if he had killed anyone since taking office, Allawi chuckled and said, "This is a big lie, this is not true, I deny it categorically, No. 1. No. 2, we will spare no effort to secure our people.""

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