“We had to send [the security men] phone cards so they could call us. They said: ‘Your son is being tortured – he will die if you don’t pay.’ So we paid and paid. What could I do? He is the last I have. I said I would sell myself in the streets, just bring him back to me.”
Yassir’s case is part of a growing body of evidence collected by the Guardian that shows Iraqi state security officers are systematically arresting people on trumped-up charges, torturing them and extorting bribes from their families for their release. Endemic corruption in Iraq has created a new industry in which senior security service officers buy their authority over particular neighbourhoods by bribing politicians, junior officers pay their seniors monthly stipends and everyone gets a return on their investment by extorting money from the families of detainees.
See some of my previous writing on what a gift we’ve given the Iraqis: