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V. Ministry of Interior Agencies and the Iraqi National Intelligence Service

This report highlights cases of detainees held in the custody of several key agencies engaged in the arrest, detention and interrogation of state security and criminal suspects.  All of the agencies act under the authority of the minister of interior except one, which reports directly to the prime minister.  Following the U.S.-led war against Iraq in March 2003, the CPA authorities dissolved all security and intelligence agencies linked to the Saddam Hussein government.67  In the ensuing months, they began the process of reconstituting the regular police force and other specialized law enforcement agencies, following a process of de-Ba’thification established by the CPA.68  Some of these agencies were initially set up as units within the Ministry of Interior and subsequently expanded into directorates and their powers apparently widened.  However, the CPA did not publicize its creation of these agencies or the extent of their authority and responsibilities in the Official Gazette, making it difficult to understand who was responsible for abuses and where accountability lay.69  The Iraqi Interim Government set up the newest agencies following the transfer of sovereignty in late June 2004, some of which operate nationwide while others remain confined for the present time to Baghdad and its environs. 

A number of the detainee cases highlighted in this report involve persons taken into custody solely because of their alleged affiliation with armed groups or opposition political parties or for state security reasons that may be connected to their political party affiliation. However, the majority are persons suspected of involvement in serious criminal offenses.  Those accused of serious criminal acts, including terrorism and organized crime, are referred to the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, and in which the following principal agencies are involved:

  • The Major Crimes Directorate (Mudiriyyat al-Jara’im al-Kubra): set up in August 2003, some four months after the fall of the Saddam Hussein government, by the CPA in coordination with Iraqi officials represented in the IGC.  Initially the agency was established as a Unit (Wihda) within the Ministry of Interior, but was enlarged into an Office (Maktab) in early March 2004 and subsequently into a Directorate (Mudiriyya) in July 2004.70  The directorate’s work is organized within four main offices: the Anti-Terrorism Unit (Maktab Mukafahat al-Irhab); the Organized Crime Unit (Maktab al-Jarima al-Munathama); the Money Laundering Unit (Maktab Ghasil al-Amwal); and the Abduction and Murder Unit (Maktab al-Khatf wal-Qutul).
  • Initially, the Major Crimes Directorate was based in the al-‘Amiriyya district of the al-Karkh sector (western Baghdad), in the premises of the former Crime Combat Office (Maktab Mukafahat al-‘Ijram) that existed under the former Iraqi government.  After July 2004, the directorate was expanded further to acquire a branch in the al-Rusafa sector (eastern Baghdad), which at this writing was operating from the Ministry of Interior (located in the Mal’ab al-Sha’ab district) pending a move to other premises.71  In addition to these two branches, in September 2004 the Major Crimes Directorate acquired new headquarters – the premises of the notorious former General Intelligence Directorate (Mudiriyyat al-Mukhabarat al-‘Amma).  The building, known locally as Hakimiyyat al-Mukhabarat, is located in the al-Karrada district of Baghdad.72  The Major Crimes Directorate is headed by Major GeneralHamid Faraj Daye’ al-Samarra’i; the al-Karkh branch by Brigadier General Ra’ad Yas Khudayyir al-Dulaimi; and the al-Rusafa branch by Brigadier General Shallal Ibrahim Mahmoud al-Jibburi.

    Currently the Major Crimes Directorate covers only the Baghdad area and its immediate vicinity, including areas deemed to be centers for organized crime as well as for extremist religious groups involved in attacks against government targets – areas such as al-Mahmudiyya, al-Latifiyya and al-Hussainiyya.  The prime responsibility for the directorate’s branch in al-Karkh remains the investigation of organized crime, money laundering, terrorism and abduction, while that of the al-Rusafa branch reportedly focuses on criminal activity connected with the Shi’a neighborhood of al-Sadr City (Madinat al-Sadr).73  The directorate’s personnel hold and interrogate suspects in detention facilities in both al-Karkh and al-Rusafa (the latter within the Ministry of Interior building).  Human Rights Watch is not aware of what detention facilities currently exist at the Directorate’s recently established headquarters in al-Karrada.

  • Criminal Intelligence Directorate (Mudiriyyat Istikhbarat al-Shurta al-Jina’iyya): set up around April 2004 under CPA authority, the Directorate operates nationwide, and its headquarters are located at the Ministry of Interior.  It is headed by Major General Hussein ‘Ali Kamal.   As its name suggests, the Criminal Intelligence Directorate originally was intended as the agency with prime responsibility for the gathering of intelligence on certain criminal activity, but it is unclear what its official responsibilities are, what type of criminal activity falls within its jurisdiction, and what the limits to its powers are.  In practice, its personnel carry out arrests of suspected criminals, detain and interrogate them and then refer them directly to the Central Criminal Court without going through any other agency.  Based on the cases of detainees referred by this agency to the court and followed up by Human Rights Watch, there appears to be significant overlap between its activities and those of the Major Crimes Directorate.  This was most apparent after the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004, when the Criminal Intelligence Directorate played a prominent role in the mass arrests of persons alleged to be involved in organized crime carried out in the al-Bataween and al-Kifah Street areas of Baghdad in late June and early July 2004 (see Section VII).  Its personnel held those arrested in these raids and in other unrelated arrests for a time at a detention facility under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Intelligence Directorate, located in the Ministry of Interior compound, as well as in the main ministry building.
  • Directorate of Ministry Security and Welfare (Mudiriyyat Amn wa-Salamat al-Wazara): set up in July 2004 shortly after the introduction of emergency legislation.74  To Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, the Iraqi Interim Government originally set this agency up as the Ministry Security Unit (Shu’bat Amn al-Wazara) and apparently expanded it subsequently into a directorate.  It was among the newest agencies the Iraqi Interim Government established after the transfer of sovereignty.  Its role is said to be the safeguarding of premises and staff within the Ministry’s compound, but its personnel carry out arrests, detention and interrogation of suspects apprehended on unrelated charges, holding them in their custody within the Interior Ministry’s compound.75        
  • Internal Affairs Directorate (Mudiriyyat al-Shu’un al-Dakhiliyya): set up in August 2003 under CPA authority and covering the al-Rusafa and al-Karkh sectors of Baghdad, its headquarters are located at the Ministry of Interior.  It is headed by Colonel Muhannad Husam al-Din.  Officially, the prime responsibility of this directorate lies in the monitoring and investigation of offenses committed by police personnel, such as bribery and corruption, treatment of detainees and abuse of authority.  However, as is the case with some of the other agencies, it is unclear what the limits to its powers are.  Its personnel reportedly carry out investigations and interrogation of suspects, referring them to the Central Criminal Court where it maintains a permanent office.  Some of these cases apparently are unrelated to offenses carried out by police personnel, and involve ordinary civilians accused of crimes such as forgery and armed robbery.  The Internal Affairs Directorate holds detainees in its custody at the Ministry of Interior, but its principal detention facility is said to be located at the al-Qanat police station in al-Sadr City, a section of which falls under its jurisdiction.

In addition to these four directorates, the first two of which account for the bulk of referrals to the Central Criminal Court, occasionally other agencies of the Ministry of Interior established after June 2004 also reportedly refer detainees in their custody to this Court.  However, Human Rights Watch did not have the opportunity verify this information or to interview such detainees.76  To the organization’s knowledge, several of the above-mentioned agencies are based at the Ministry of Interior compound, using either separate detention facilities within the compound or the main Ministry building.77   

Outside of the framework of the Ministry of Interior, the principal agency currently involved in the arrest, detention and interrogation of suspects is the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) (Jihaz al-Mukhabarat al-Watani al-‘Iraqi).  The CPA created the INIS in April 2004; Major General Muhammad ‘Abdullah al-Shahwani currently heads it.78  CPA Order 69 provided that the Director General of the INIS would report directly to the then CPA administrator, Paul Bremer, and to the head of government upon transfer of sovereignty.79  Although Article 12 of this order stipulates that the INIS “shall have no power to arrest or detain persons,” and limits its authority to intelligence gathering on “serious violation of Iraqi criminal law” (including matters relating to internal state security), it has held scores of detainees in its custody without formal charges, having arrested them in the first place without judicial warrant.80  Human Rights Watch interviewed several detainees held in INIS custody following their release in October 2004 (see Section VI).   They had been held at the Major Crimes Directorate in al-‘Amiriyya (al-Karkh branch), separately from other detainees who were held there under that directorate’s jurisdiction.  To Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, the Iraqi Interim Government has made no amendments to CPA Order 69 to expand the powers of this agency. 

[67] CPA/ORD/23 May 2003/02 (Dissolution of Entities).

[68] CPA/ORD/25 May 2003/05 (Establishment of the Iraqi De-Baathification Council).  This Order was rescinded upon the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government at the end of June 2004 (CPA/ORD/28 June 2004/100 (Transition of Laws, Regulations, Orders, and Directives Issued by the Provisional Coalition Authority).

[69] The sole exception was a public notice regarding the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, set up under CPA Order Number 69 of April 1, 2004, and which falls outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior (See below).

[70] For the purposes of this report, all references are to the Major Crimes Directorate, even though some of the torture cases highlighted relate to periods in which the Directorate had not been officially established and was still either a Unit or an Office within the Ministry of Interior.

[71] Human Rights Watch understands that the new premises for the al-Rusafa branch of the Major Crimes Directorate are likely to be located in the al-A’dhamiyya district of Baghdad.

[72] These headquarters were established by the Major Crimes Directorate following the expulsion from Hakimiyyat al-Mukhabarat of the Hizbullah Movement in Iraq in mid-August 2004 (See Section VI).

[73] Madinat al-Sadr, a large neighborhood in north-eastern Baghdad, was so renamed following the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in April 2003.  It was formerly known as Madinat al-Thawra [Revolution City] and subsequently as Madinat Saddam [Saddam City].

[74]  Order for Safeguarding National Security, No. 1 of 2004 (See Section IV).

[75] One investigative judge told Human Rights Watch that such cases included a defendant referred to the Central Criminal Court on charges relating to the illegal sale of antiquities.

[76] These are said to include the Important Crimes Directorate (Mudiriyyat al-Jara’im al-Muhimma), set up by the Iraqi Interim Government after July 2004 and headed by Major General Tareq al-Baldawi.  It is headquartered at the Ministry of Interior and initially had two branches, one located in the al-Mansour district (al-Karkh sector) and the other in al-Karrada (al-Rusafa sector), but the latter is said to be no longer functioning.  It is unclear what types of crimes fall within this directorate’s jurisdiction, but the cases it has referred to the Central Criminal Court reportedly include persons accused of car theft.  Occasionally, the Minister of Interior’s Office is said torefer directly individual cases to this Court, including a case involving an abduction, but Human Rights Watch was not able to independently verify this.

[77] Two floors within the main Ministry building are reportedly used to hold suspects incommunicado. Several detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch mentioned the seventh floor as being one of them.

[78] CPA/ORD/1 April 2004/69 (Delegation of Authority to Establish the Iraqi National Intelligence Service).  The Charter of the INIS is annexed to CPA Order 69. 

[79] Ibid., Section 1(3).

[80] Article 27(D) of the TAL also states that the Iraqi Intelligence Service “shall collect information, assess threats to national security, and advise the Iraqi government.  This Service shall be under civilian control, shall be subject to legislative oversight, and shall operate pursuant to law and in accordance with recognized principles of human rights.”

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