CNN announced that it will air the John Roberts hosted “CNN Special Investigations Unit: Death Squads on Saturday March 17th at 8pm ET.
As the United States approaches its fifth year of war in Iraq, CNN anchor John Roberts investigates secret Shia “death squads” operating inside Iraq’s security forces. They are accused of kidnapping, torture, murder and running illegal secret prisons. CNN: Special Investigations Unit – Death Squads premieres on Saturday, March 17, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. It replays on Sunday, March 18, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. All times Eastern.
During Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, Iraq’s Sunni minority ruled the Shia majority with an iron fist. But when the American-led coalition invaded Iraq and deposed Hussein, the Shia he had so brutally oppressed took control of the government – and soon were accused of taking bloody revenge, in many cases as reprisal to insurgent attacks against that government. Many of the worst accusations – of rape, kidnapping, torture and murder – involve organized death squads, often wearing uniforms of Iraq’s official security forces. Death Squads is a startling investigation into the brutality of these rogue Shia groups and their possible connection to top level government officials.
In rare interviews with Iraqi and American government officials, CNN investigates how this could have happened. These include interviews with former Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, the man who was in charge of many of the security forces; L. Paul Bremer, former U.S. administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq; Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq; three key American advisors to Jabr, who accuse him of “creating a climate of fear and retribution” and doing little to investigate instances of kidnapping and murder; and U.S. troops battling the daily violence. These subjects speak frankly to CNN about the initial post-war efforts and reveal in devastating detail the beginnings of a sectarian cycle of repression and reprisal.
Jabr, a Shia Muslim, “insists only one secret prison has ever been discovered, that he punished those responsible and that the reports of abuse are exaggerated,” Roberts reports.
The filmmakers obtained graphic and disturbing footage, including video never before seen in the United States, of the death squads’ grisly work. Roberts, who anchors CNN’s weekend analysis program, This Week at War, challenges Iraqi officials about the existence of secret prisons and allegations of torture found in numerous U.S. and international reports, as well as accusations that members of official Iraqi security forces are responsible for targeting civilians with hit lists, violent intimidation, kidnappings and even murder.
Death Squads is a co-production of CNN and Channel 4/Quicksilver Media and is reported by a team of journalists: British journalist Deborah Davies, an Iraqi journalist working anonymously and CNN’s John Roberts. For CNN Productions, Mark Nelson is the vice president and senior executive producer, and Jennifer Hyde is executive producer.
This program contains graphic images of torture, violence and human mutilation. CNN strongly advises viewer discretion.