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WikiLeaks: 2009-09-14: 09BAGHDAD2473: MOI to Hire 500 Christians and Mandeans to Guard Religious Sites

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD2473: September 14, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:22 AM UT


Viewing cable 09BAGHDAD2473, MOI TO HIRE 500 CHRISTIANS AND MANDEANS TO GUARD

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD2473 2009-09-14 05:47 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO4564
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2473/01 2570547
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140547Z SEP 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4697
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002473 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/07/2019 
TAGS: KIRF PGOV PTER SOCI IZ
SUBJECT: MOI TO HIRE 500 CHRISTIANS AND MANDEANS TO GUARD 
RELIGIOUS SITES 
 
REF: A. BAGHDAD 1891 
     B. BAGHDAD 1988 
 
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Gary A. Grappo for Reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: In response to requests from the non-Muslim 
Endowment and the bombings of six churches in Baghdad on July 
12, the GOI has authorized the Ministry of Interior (MOI) to 
hire, train and pay 500 guards drawn from Iraq's Christians 
and Sabean-Mandean communities to serve as guards at churches 
and other places of worship.  The additional hires will 
nearly triple the total number of guards serving at minority 
religious sites from 300 to 800 although the Christian 
community is having difficulties locating enough able bodied 
individuals to fill the positions.  As of September 10, 300 
names had been submitted to MOI for vetting and the first 
cadre of minority guards is already receiving basic weapons 
training.  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
500 New Guards Authorized After Church Bombings 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
2. (C) On July 12, six churches in Baghdad were bombed in a 
coordinated series of attacks that left two killed and at 
least 20 wounded (ref A).  In the aftermath of the attacks, 
the head of the Christian Endowment, Ra'ad al-Shammaa, blamed 
the GOI for failing to provide adequate security at churches 
and reiterated a request for 500 additional guards that the 
non-Muslim Endowment had supposedly submitted to the Council 
of Ministers many months prior.  In response, the PM's 
advisor for Christian affairs, Georges Bakoos, blamed the 
Endowment for failing to bring the request to his personal 
attention so that he could ensure that there was 
follow-through (ref B).  On September 3, the head of the 
non-Muslim Endowment, Abdullah al-Naufali, confirmed to 
Poloff that the GOI had authorized the Endowment's request 
for 500 additional guards to be drawn from Iraq's minority 
communities and to be placed at places of worship.  He added 
that 16 MOI personnel had also been assigned as bodyguards 
for prominent Christian religious leaders.  In a separate 
meeting on September 6, the Minister of Human Rights Wijdan 
Selim, confirmed the MOI's intentions to hire minority 
guards. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Minority Guard Force Takes Shape 
-------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) According to MOI senior advisor Rafae Munahe, the MOI 
currently employs 300 guards for minority religious sites. 
Al-Naufali stated that in the week of August 30 the 
non-Muslim Endowment submitted the first 300 names to the MOI 
for initial screening and vetting.  He said that the 300 
names included 240 Christians and 60 Mandeans.  He stated 
that all of the new guards will be on the MOI payroll and 
that the MOI had final decision-making authority over how to 
deploy the new guards, but said that decisions would be made 
with the input of the non-Muslim Endowment.  In fact, he 
noted, that the MOI has already placed two of its commanders 
at the non-Muslim Endowment offices to supervise the new 
guards.  Al-Naufali stated that the minority guards would be 
affiliated with the Facilities Protection Service (FPS) 
division of MOI rather than serve as regular police and that 
their purpose will be to guard religious places of worship in 
Baghdad including approximately 70 Christian churches and 
monasteries.  Separately, on September 9, Christian MP 
Yonadam Kanna told Poloff that he was pressing the MOI to 
hire the new personnel as full fledged Iraqi police so that 
they will receive the same salaries and benefits as other MOI 
employees. 
Qemployees. 
 
----------------------- 
The Recruitment Process 
----------------------- 
 
4. (C) Al-Naufali stated that the non-Muslim Endowment had 
asked individual churches and Mandean temples to recommend 
people with the idea of creating a guard force that knew its 
local environment extremely well.  Christian Baghdad 
Provincial Council representative Gorguis Barwary told Poloff 
on September 9 that the MOI will not hire anyone for this 
program without a letter of recommendation from a church. 
Al-Naufali noted that the initial recruitment of minority 
guards has faced a hurdle because the MOI only wanted to hire 
people between the ages of 19-35.  He admitted that this was 
a problem as so far there were not enough young men within 
the Christian community willing to serve as guards. 
Al-Naufali said that a better recruitment campaign would be 
needed within the churches and that the Endowment may look to 
recruit Christian women just as the Mandean community had 
 
BAGHDAD 00002473  002 OF 002 
 
 
done. 
 
-------- 
Training 
-------- 
 
5. (C) Al-Naufali said no official schedule has been worked 
out with the MOI to put the new recruits through formal 
training.  However, the MOI commanders at the Endowment were 
doing basic weapons training with at least some of the guards 
on the roof of the Endowment.  Chaldean Bishop Jacques Isaac, 
the Dean of Babel College seminary, told Poloff that the new 
guards would eventually go to the MOI's police college for 
approximately three months of training.  Once ready for duty, 
al-Naufali said, the new guards would take the place of Iraqi 
Security Forces (ISF) personnel who have been assigned to 
guard churches since the bombings on July 12 (ref B).  He 
thought this would be a positive development because the 
minority guards would know better than the ISF, who belonged 
in particular neighborhoods, and also because it would reduce 
friction between the ISF and church leaders, which has grown 
over the past two months. 
 
6. (C) COMMENT: The GOI's decision to bolster the security 
presence at churches and other minority places of worship 
using personnel drawn from these communities, as well as 
providing body guards for senior minority religious figures, 
are tangible signs of its commitment to their safety and well 
being.  The decision also provides Iraq's minority 
communities with a greater role in their own defense.  At the 
same time, given the penchant of terrorist organizations to 
target Iraqi security forces, the minority communities will 
need to prepare themselves for the potential consequences of 
providing for their own security.  END COMMENT. 
FORD

 



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