US troops use public shaming as disciplinary tactic

Suspected Iraqi thieves have been stripped and humiliated by US soldiers, Norwegian journalists claim

    Restoring law and order: US soldiers have
    not always been diplomatic in their efforts
    to win "hearts and minds"

    US soldiers stripped four suspected

    Iraqi thieves naked and burned their clothes before pushing them

    into the street, journalists from a Norwegian newspaper who

    witnessed the incident told AFP on Saturday.

    The soldiers also wrote "Ali Baba. Haram" in Arabic across the

    Iraqis' chests in a crude reference to the tale of "Ali Baba and the

    40 Thieves," said Line Fransson from the Oslo-based Dagbladet


    The phrase translates roughly as slang for "sinful thieves."

    "We suddenly saw four naked Iraqi guys with four American

    soldiers," said Fransson, on her way with a photographer in the

    early morning to do a story about the suffering of animals at

    Baghdad's zoo in Zawra park amid the war.

    "We thought they were going to the bathroom. They went into a

    building and a minute later (the soldiers) pushed them out into the

    main street," she said.

    "Then the naked guys ran as fast as they could" to a friend who

    was waiting in a nearby car, she said. Photographs taken by the

    newspaper and shown to AFP appear to confirm the incident.

    One of the Iraqis, who gave his name as Ziad and said he was 20,

    spoke to the reporters once he managed to find a pair of shorts. He

    claimed he and his friends were in the park to search for his

    missing younger brother.

    US soldiers in Baghdad have been using
    original methods to address the looting

    The commanding army officer at the scene, First Lieutenant Eric

    Canaday, confirmed his men had stripped the Iraqis. He said he had

    been having trouble with young Iraqi men trying to steal light

    weapons being stored in the park.

    He claimed he got the idea to strip them from people in the


    "They gave us the idea so we took their clothes and burned them

    and then we pushed them out with thief written on them," Canaday was

    quoted as telling the journalists. He confirmed their clothes had

    been set on fire with gasoline.

    "It has actually been pretty successful," he said, claiming that

    as many as 100 people had been trying to steal the weapons,

    including Kalashnikov rifles, which are being stored to eventually

    re-arm Iraq's security services.

    "It's not as bad as it seems," a laughing Canaday was quoted as

    saying, "we only do it to the people who are stealing weapons."

    "A little public shaming; no physical damage and everything will

    be fine tomorrow," he said. "Hopefully they will be embarrassed

    enough not to come back."

    Canaday said his soldiers, who wrote on the Iraqis with a black

    marker, had "done this one time before" but that time "we only did

    it with one person."

    He said he intended to continue the policy.

    Fransson said that when the US soldiers pushed the Iraqis into

    the street they were shouting after them: "Ali Baba, Ali Baba. "

    Ziad said he was so angry being humiliated by the soldiers that

    the only thing he wanted to do was find a grenade and throw it at

    the American soldiers and all the other ones in the city," she


    The chief of US army public affairs, Colonel Rick Thomas, said

    it "certainly does not sound like the type of incident we have seen

    during this operation," but declined further comment. He could not

    say if an investigation would be opened.


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