When Leila Nasser was six months pregnant, U.S. soldiers burst into her house and wrestled away her husband, Mohammed Amin, who was asleep on the roof, trying to escape the summer heat.
This week, Nasser waited outside what’s now called the “reconciliation hall” in Baghdad’s Jihad neighborhood for Amin to appear. In her arms she cradled her year-old son, whom she’d named Moubin, the Iraqi word for apparent.
More than 25,000 Iraqis are now in U.S. detention facilities. The Jihad reconciliation committee of Sunni and Shiite Muslims had requested that 562 men be released. Last month, 48 people were released, but 40 more were detained.
Most of those held are never charged with crimes. Sometimes Iraqis are detained because of a tip from a neighbor or because a few cables and cleaning agents are mistaken for bomb-making material.
Nasser said that there was no evidence linking her husband to Shiite Muslim militias. “They destroyed the house with us in it,” she said of the U.S. soldiers. “The reason? Because he has a revolver, a revolver that he puts under his pillow to defend me and my daughter.”
A member of the reconciliation committee, eavesdropping interrupted her.
“Talk about reconciliation,” he instructed.
“Reconciliation? Which reconciliation? What did we understand from the reconciliation?” Nasser asked. “It’s been one year and three months and he did nothing.”