Speaking with Sahwa Leaders in Taji - 07.21.2008

Lots of raids and firefights were happening in Taji in order to control the security situation. Until late 2007, if you will ask a cab driver to take you to Taji they would refuse because it’s too dangerous for them. If they were Shi’a they may reasonably be afraid of being kidnapped by one of the Sunni militias and found dead a few days later.

The Iraqi Ministry of I established more than 100 police checkpoints in the area of Taji along with checkpoints from the Iraqi National Guard in order to control militias and unknown groups. Another well known problem in the area of Taji were the gangs. It is very common in Iraq that if you are driving a modern car and you are driving in a dangerous area such as that around Taji, there is a high possibility that you will return home on foot, if you were lucky and not killed.

Tribes in Taji such as Al-Tammimi decided to fight Al-Qa’eda and all groups that were related to them. Sheikh Nadeem Hatem Sultan Al-Tammimi, the head of Al-Tammimi tribe in Taji, asked all the sons of the Al-Tammimi tribe to fight Al-Qaeda and to join Al-Sahwa Council in order to restore security in the area. One of the first things this tribe did was to establish checkpoints to search the cars coming in and out of the area around Taji. These new checkpoints were established because there were doubts about the checkpoints belonging to the Iraqi MOI. There were many rumors about the MOI checkpoints not interfering with the work of Al-Qa’eda or stopping cars that were laden with guns or explosives.

Shops and some schools were closed due to the lack of security, students were killed as well as headmasters and teachers. Many families living there decided to stop sending their children to school in Taji in order to keep them alive. Families became especially worried after 50 students were killed on a road near Taji that lead to the area around the Taji military base. Even for students coming from colleges like Baghdad University or others used to be stopped at fake checkpoints and asked for their identity to know if they were Sunni or Shi’a. If they were found to be Shi’a they might be taken to an unknown area and killed the next day, something that happened many times frome 2006 to 2007.


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