By Duncan Osborne
A 2005 document included in the nearly 400,000 US Department of Defense records recently posted on wikileaks.org shows that the Pentagon was aware of the organized killing of gay Iraqis more than 15 months before those murders were first reported, in Gay City News.
“The male was shot (___) times in the chest, and a note was discovered on the body stating that the man had been killed by ___ for stealing cars and being homosexual,” read the January 1, 2005, memo, in which some words were redacted.
The body was discovered in Ramadi, a city in central Iraq, and a note was left at the scene by the gunmen who killed the man. The fact that the note was written in advance of the killing suggests that the gunmen knew whom they were targeting and why they were killing him, and had time to plan and prepare for the murder.
“After talking with the locals (through an ___), a CO discovered that the male was killed at approximately 1545C by gunmen driving past in a vehicle,” the memo read. “The vehicle drove past, fired, dropped the note, and then fled. The note is being brought back to - -___ for further analysis. No friendly casualties or damage to equipment reported.”
Gay City News found the memo by searching on wikileaks.org with keywords such as gay, lesbian, homosexual, fag, and faggot. The 2005 memo was the only document Gay City News found that related to the killings of gay Iraqis.
Gay City News first reported on such killings in March of 2006. Reporter Doug Ireland, who authored that first story, found killings that occurred as early as April of 2005. An April 2006 report from the United Nations added further evidence that gay, lesbian, and transgender Iraqis were being targeted.
In October of 2005, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiite Muslims, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, that required that “people involved” in homosexuality “should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.” That fatwa was later removed from the ayatollah’s website.
Under the Bush administration, the US Department of State and the Pentagon generally avoided acknowledging the gay killings in Iraq.
In 2007, Gay City News made a Freedom of Information request to the State Department and various Defense Department units seeking all records “that relate to or identify homicides, assaults, or other violent acts committed against homosexual persons in Iraq.”
The Pentagon units said they had no records that were responsive to the Gay City News request or they were unable to search their records with the terms provided by the paper.
Responding in mid-2009, the State Department released two documents, totaling nine pages, that represented all the records that agency compiled from March 1, 2003, roughly the start of the Iraq war, through the date of the request.
The records concerned media talking points and debates over who at that agency should handle press interviews. Judging by the State Department records, which were dated in 2006 and 2007, that agency learned of the killings by reading about them in the gay press or from gay human rights groups.
Other documents unearthed on wikileaks.org show US military units in Iraq identifying enemy locations with what are, in effect, anti-gay slurs.
A search on “gay” found 41 references in 2005 and 2006 documents to the “Gay Palace,” a building in Ramadi that insurgents used to fire on Marine units in that city. A 2006 story in the Army Times called the “Gay Palace” a “gaudy thing.”
Two 2005 documents show that troops named an intersection in Mosul, a northern Iraqi city, the “Lesbian Loop.” The memos note attacks in or near that intersection.
Given their association with the enemy, it is doubtful that either label was meant as a compliment. In 2001, at the start of the war in Afghanistan, some US troops wrote anti-gay slurs on bombs that were used in that conflict.
One 2005 document describes a weapons cache that was found in Ramadi that included “faggot missiles.” Gay City News could not find any explanation for that term.