Moqtada of the Morgue

Is Moqtada al-Sadr manipulating the death count in Baghdad?

This blood dripping article from Newsweek on the mass death in Iraq reveals who is in charge of the Baghdad morgue body counts:

The morgue is at the heart of that debate, because whoever controls the morgue controls the numbers. That person is radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. One day last week, a NEWSWEEK reporter saw more than a dozen militiamen, dressed in the traditional black of Sadr’s army, patrolling the facilities, keeping an eye on the staff.

According to morgue employees, Sadr’s Mahdi militiamen aim to control the flow of information to give Sadr a leg up in the propaganda war. Ministry of Health officials release statistics from time to time. Last week, a ministry official told NEWSWEEK that the last few weeks have seen a 30 percent rise in victims, many of them found in the garbage or floating down the Tigris—but they rarely reveal details about the nature of the deaths, or the identities of the corpses.

Sadr’s political wing also controls the Health Ministry, and he has good reason to keep such details hidden: they could incriminate Shiite militias.

An earlier report at the Washington Post after the bombing of the Golden Dome Askariya shrine in February had more to say about the morgue.

It would be interesting to know if the anti-American Al Sadr still controls the morgue since the new Al Maliki government took over.

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