Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi has vowed to "annihilate" insurgents -- but Australian newspapers have been reporting since last week that Allawi may have gone too far, meting out punishments to suspected insurgents worthy of Saddam Hussein himself.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Iraq's Human Rights Minister, Bakhtiar Amin, said he would investigate claims that Allawi shot several handcuffed insurgents at point-blank range just before he assumed office three weeks ago. But Amin said he doubted the reports were true: "This is not the Iyad Allawi I know. He's not a killer. And he's not the type of person who goes out killing people. You don't see him carrying weapons."
The Australian foreign affairs minister said nobody his government had spoken to in Iraq knew about the alleged shootings, and another Australian official called on the United States to investigate after the Herald reported that four U.S. security officers were reportedly present during the alleged shootings.
Newsweek spoke with U.S. officials about this incident as well as another story making the rounds: That Allawi chopped off the hand of a suspected insurgent with an axe. "White House officials dismiss it as 'urban legend.' The Australian newspaper The Age reported last week that two anonymous witnesses saw Allawi shoot seven suspected insurgents as his American bodyguards looked on. Asked by Newsweek if he had killed anyone since taking office, Allawi chuckled and said, 'This is a big lie, this is not true, I deny it categorically, No. 1. No. 2, we will spare no effort to secure our people.'"