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A death squad is an armed terrorist squad that kills civilians, terrorists or guerillas. These groups tend to commit extrajudicial assassinations / extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances of persons. These killings are often conducted in ways meant to ensure the secrecy of the killers' identities, so as to avoid accountability and ensure deniability.

Death squads are often, but not exclusively, associated with the violent political repression under dictatorships, totalitarian states and similar regimes. They typically have the tacit or express support of the state, as a whole or in part (see state terrorism). Death squads may comprise a secret police force, paramilitary group or official government units with members drawn from the military or the police. They may also be organized as vigilante groups.

Death squads differ from terrorist groups in that their violent actions are often used to maintain the power of a local or national elite, rather than intending to disrupt their existing authority per se. Foreign powers may aid states where death squads are active, usually without the international criticism that would be involved when supporting states that support terrorism. Some death squads, including those with links with corrupt elites, have been classified as terrorist organizations. :For extrajudicial executions see also Assassination.

Extrajudicial killings are the illegal killing of leading political, trades union, dissidents, and social figures by either the state government, state authorities like the armed forces and police (as in Liberiamarker under Charles G. Taylor), or criminal outfits such as the Italianmarker Mafia.

Extrajudicial killings and death squads are most common in the Middle East (mostly in Palestinian territories and Iraqmarker, Central America, Afghanistanmarker, Bangladeshmarker, Indiamarker and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, several nations or regions in Equatorial Africa, Jamaica, Kosovo, many parts of South America, Chechnyamarker, Russiamarker, Uzbekistanmarker, North Ossetiamarker, parts of Thailandmarker and in the Philippinesmarker.


Although the term "death squad" did not rise to notoriety until the activities of such groups in Central and South America during the 1970s and 1980s became widely known, death squads have been employed under different guises throughout history. The term was first used during the Battle of Algiers by Paul Aussaresses .

Cold war usage

The former Soviet Unionmarker and Communist Bloc countries used to kill dissidents via extrajudicial killing during the Cold War. Those who were not killed were sent to KGBmarker run 'Gulag' prison camps.

Nguyễn Văn Lém (referred to as Captain Bay Lop) (died 1 February 1968 in Saigon) was a member of the Viet Cong who was summarily executed in Saigonmarker during the Tet Offensive. The picture of his death would became one of may an anti- Vietnam War icons in the Western World.

During the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, death squads were used against the Viet Cong cadre as well as supporters in neighbouring countries (notably Cambodiamarker). See also Phoenix Program (also known as Phung Hoang). The Viet Cong also used death squads of their own against civilians for political reasons.

Argentinamarker used extrajudicial killings as way of crushing the liberal and communist opposition to the military junta during the 'Dirty war' of the late 1960s and most of the 1970s. Alianza Anticomunista Argentina, a far-right death squad mainly active during the "Dirty War". The Chileanmarker Junta of 1972 to 1992 also committed such killings. See Operation Condor for examples.

During the Salvadoran civil war, death squads achieved notoriety when far-right vigilantes assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero for his social activism in March 1980 . In December 1980, three American nuns, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Maura Clarke, and a lay worker, Jean Donovan, were raped and murdered by a military unit later found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing hundreds of peasants and activists, including such notable priests as Rutilio Grande. Because the death squads involved were found to have been soldiers of the Salvadoran military, which was receiving U.S. funding and training from American advisors during the Carter administration, these events prompted outrage in the U.S. and led to a temporary cutoff in military aid from the Reagan administration , although Death Squad activity stretched well into the Reagan years (1981-1989) as well.

Honduras also had death squads active through the 1980s, the most notorious of which was Battalion 316. Hundreds of people, teachers, politicians, and union bosses were assassinated by government-backed forces. Battalion 316 received substantial support and training from the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

One of the earliest cases of extradudical killings was in Wiemar Germanymarker.

Recent use

As of 2006, death squads have continued to be active in several locations. They were on the rise through the 1960s and 1970s. However, they now appear to have been on the decline since about 1981 . Some known recent centers of activity include Chechnyamarker, Democratic Republic of the Congomarker, Colombiamarker, Iraqmarker, and Sudanmarker, among others.

By continent

South America


Alianza Anticomunista Argentina, a far-right death squad mainly active during the "Dirty War". Amnesty International reports that “the security forces in Argentina first started using “death squads” in late 1973. By the time military rule ended in 1983 some 1,500 people had been killed directly by “death squads”, and over 9,000 named people and many more undocumented victims had been “disappeared”—kidnapped and murdered secretly—according to the officially appointed National Commission on Disappeared People (CONADEP).


The Caravan of Death was a Chilean Army death squad that, following the Chilean coup of 1973, flew by helicopter from south to north of Chile between September 30 and October 22, 1973. During this foray, members of the squad ordered or personally carried out the execution of at least 75 individuals held in Army custody in these garrisons . According to the NGO Memoria y Justicia, the squad killed 26 in the South and 71 in the North, making a total of 97 victims . Augusto Pinochet was indicted in December 2002 in this case, but he died four years later without having being judged. The trial, however, is on-going as of September 2007, other militaries and a former military chaplain having been indicted in this case.On 28 November, 2006, Víctor Montiglio, charged of this case, ordered Pinochet's house arrest

More than 3,000 people are believed to have been killed in the operations of Pinochet's regime. In June 1999, judge Juan Guzmán Tapia ordered the arrest of five retired generals.


In Colombiamarker, the terms "death squads", "paramilitaries" or "self-defense groups" have been used interchangeably and otherwise, referring to either a single phenomenon, also known as paramilitarism, or to different but related aspects of the same.

In 1993, Amnesty International (AI) reported that clandestine military units began covertly operating as death squads in 1978. According to the report, throughout the 1980s political killings rose to a peak of 3,500 in 1988, averaging some 1,500 victims per year since then, and "over 1,500 civilians are also believed to have “disappeared” since 1978."


Peruvian government death squads carried out massacres against civilians in their fight against Shining Path and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.


In its 2003 and 2002 world reports, Human Rights Watch reported the existence of death squads in several Venezuelan states, involving members of the local police, the DISIP and the National Guard. These groups were responsible for the extrajudicial killings of civilians and wanted or alleged criminals, including street criminals, looters and drug users.

Central America

El Salvador

Main articles: Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, Oscar Romero.

During the Salvadoran civil war, death squads (known in Spanish by the name of Escuadrón de la Muerte, "Squadron of Death") achieved notoriety when far-right vigilantes assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero for his social activism in March 1980. In December 1980, three American nuns and a lay worker were raped and murdered by a military unit later found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing thousands of peasants and activists. Funding for the squads came primarily from right-wing Salvadoran businessmen and landowners. Because the death squads involved were found to have been soldiers of the Salvadoran military, which was receiving U.S. funding and training during the Carter and Reagan administrations, these events prompted some outrage in the U.S, however human rights activists criticized U.S. administrations for denying Salvadoran government links to the death squads. Veteran Human Rights Watch researcher Cynthia J. Arnson writes that "particularly during the years 1980–1983 when the killing was at its height (numbers of killings could reach as far as 35,000), assigning responsibility for the violence and human rights abuses was a product of the intense ideological polarization in the United States. The Reagan administration downplayed the scale of abuse as well as the involvement of state actors. Because of the level of denial as well as the extent of U.S. involvement with the Salvadoran military and security forces, the U.S. role in El Salvador- what was known about death squads, when it was known, and what actions the United States did or did not take to curb their abuses- becomes an important part of El Salvador’s death squad story.” . Some death squads, such as Sombra Negra, are still operating in El Salvador.[18777]


Honduras had death squads active through the 1980s, the most notorious of which was Battalion 3-16. Hundreds of people, teachers, politicians, and union bosses were assassinated by government-backed forces. Battalion 316 received substantial support and training from the United States Central Intelligence Agency. At least 19 members were School of the Americas graduates. Seven members, including Billy Joya, later played important roles in the administration of President Manuel Zelaya as of mid-2006. Following the 2009 coup d'état, former Battalion 3-16 member Nelson Willy Mejía Mejía became Director-General of Immigration and Billy Joya was de facto President Roberto Micheletti's security advisor. Another former Battalion 3-16 member, Napoleón Nassar Herrera,, was high Commissioner of Police for the north-west region under Zelaya and under Micheletti, and also became a Secretary of Security spokesperson "for dialogue" under Micheletti. Zelaya claimed that Joya had reactivated the death squad.


Guatemalamarker has had death squads active since the 1960s up through the 1990s. Historian Greg Grandin remarks that "Washington, of course, publicly denied its support for paramilitarism, but the practice of political disappearances took a great leap forward in Guatemala in 1966 with the birth of a death squad created, and directly supervised, by U.S. security advisors. Throughout the first two months of 1966, a combined black-ops unit made up of police and military officers working under the name "Operation Clean-Up"-a term US counterinsurgents would recycle elsewhere in Latin America—carried out a number of extrajudicial executions... Over the next two and a half decades, U.S.-funded and -trained Central American security forces would disappear tens of thousands of citizens and execute hundreds of thousands more."


Death squads were active in this country throughout the 1970s and '80s. During the 1980s, the Anti-Communist Contra guerrillas in Nicaraguamarker were described as death squads.The Contras were considered terrorists by the Sandinista government, which alleged that their attacks targeted civilians. The Contras, who received money, training, and arms from the Argentinemarker junta and then the American CIA, mounted raids which targeted northern Nicaragua, destroying military bases, bridges, schools, clinics and airstrips. They also attempted to weaken and disrupt the Sandinista government's infrastructure by kidnapping and assassinating those associated with it. A CIA training manual instructed the Contras, under the heading "Selective Use of Violence", to "neutralise carefully selected and planned targets such as court judges, police or state security officials, etc." These practices ended, however, in 1990, when Nicaragua became the first nation to vote a Communist government out of power.



Assassinations and mass killings of Vietnamese in the late 1970s. The Khmer Rouge began employing death squads to purge Cambodiamarker of non-communists after taking over the country in 1975 . They rounded up their victims, questioned them and then took them out to killing fields.


Mao Zedong made use of the Red Guards to assassinate, imprison, and terrorise millions of suspected political opponents during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.


In Dak Son Massacre, over 600 communist Vietcong troops marched in to the village and caused mass chaos. They used flamethrowers to destroy the shelters and kill the men, women, and children who lived there.

South Korea

Any news reports of the use of death squads in Korea originates around the middle of the 20th century such as the Jeju Massacremarker and Taejon. There were also the multiple deaths that made the news 1980 in Gwangjumarker.

North Korea

Amnesty international has accused the North Koreamarker (the PDRK) of 'liquidating' several leading dissidents and so called 'trouble makers' in a mini-purge of its Communist party and politburo in the late 1990s.


Many extrajudicial killings occurred during the 2003 anti-drug effort of Thailandmarker's prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Rumors still persist that there is collusion between the government, rogue military officers and radical right wing/anti-drugs death squads.[18778][18779][18780][18781][18782][18783][18784][18785]Both Muslim [18786] and Buddhist [18787] sectarian death squads still operating in the south of the country.


The New People's Army (NPA) groups known as "Sparrow Units" were active in the mid-1980s, killing government officials, police personnel, military members, and anyone else they targeted for elimination. They were also supposedly part of an NPA operation called "Agaw Armas" (Filipino for "Stealing Weapons- "), where they raided government armories as well as stealing weapons from slain military and police personnel. A low level civil war with south Muslims, Al-Qaeda sympathizers and communist insurgents has led to a general break down of law and order. The Philippines government has promised to curb the killings, but is itself implicated in many of the killings.

North America

United States of America

After the American Civil War the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan carried out lynchings of African-Americans. This was often with the unofficial support of some local and state level leaders in the American south. In the introduction to "Death Squads in Global Perspective: Murder With Deniability," author Bruce B. Campbell describes the KKK as "one of the first proto-death squads," which "conducted death-squad-like killings and other terrorist acts against recently freed black slaves, “carpetbaggers,” and those thought to collaborate too closely with the agents of the victorious federal government engaged in “reconstructing” the recently rebellious South." Campbell notes the difference with modern death-squads was that the Ku Klux Klan was associated with elements of a defeated state rather than the ruling governmental entity. "Otherwise, in its murderous intent, links to private elite interests, and covert nature, it very closely resembles modern death squads.”

A post by Greg Grandin accuses United States of being responsible for training and setting up Death Squads in South and Central American countries. [18788]. The School of the Americas, run by the US Army in Georgia has been accused by various critics of the US of having trained "500 of the worst human rights abusers in the hemisphere"The CIA was accused of making extensive use of death squads in the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War. It is estimated that as many as 19,000 alleged Viet Cong were killed during this program.


In 1968 the Mexican Army killed hundreds of people in the Tlatelolco massacre. Through the 1970s and 1980s death squads were used against students, leftists, and activists. One of these squads was the Brigada Blanca. In 1997 about forty-five people were killed by a death squad in Chenalho.

In the state of Chihuahuamarker more than four hundred women have 'disappeared' since 1994. While a few perpetrators have been found, the majority of the members of the organization committing these 'disappearances' has remained underground. The disappearances continue as of 2007.



The French military used death squads during the Algerian War (1954-1962).


Beginning in 1919, the government of the Weimar Republicmarker sanctioned the formation of paramilitary Freikorps units in order to prevent a takeover by Soviet-backed German Communists. Although supposedly under the control of the German Ministry of Defense, the Freikorps tended to be drunken, trigger happy, and loyal only to their own commanders. However, they were instrumental in the defeat of the 1919 Spartacist Uprising and the annexation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. The most famous victims of the Freikorps were of Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who were captured after the Spartacist Uprising and shot without trial. After the Freikorps units turned against the Republic in the monarchist Kapp Putsch, many of the leaders were forced to flee abroad and the units were largely disbanded.

Some Freikorps veterans drifted into the ultra-nationalist Organisation Consul, which regarded the Versailles Treaty as treasonous and targeted politicians associated with it for assassination. The most famous victims of O.C. were Matthias Erzberger and Walter Rathenau, both of whom were cabinet ministers in the Weimar regime.

During the 1930s, the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler made extensive use of death squads, starting with the infamous Night of the Long Knives and reaching a peak with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 . Following the frontline units, the Nazis brought along four travelling death squads called Einsatzgruppenmarker (Einsatzgruppe-A through D) to hunt down and kill Jews, Communists and other so-called undesirables in the occupied areas. This was the first of the massacres that made up the Holocaust. Typically, the victims, who included many women and children, were forcibly marched from their homes to open graves or ravines before being shot. Many others suffocated in specially designed poison trucks called gas vans. Between 1941 and 1944 , the Einsatzgruppenmarker killed about 1.2 million Soviet Jews, as well as tens of thousands of suspected political dissidents, most of Polish upper class and intelligentsia, POWs, and uncounted numbers of Romany.

During the Cold War, death squads associated with the Libyan embassy in East Berlin plotted murders of West German and American targets. This was done with the full knowledge of the East German secret police or Stasi.


During the Irish War of Independence, Michael Collins mounted a violent guerrilla campaign. Using a hand picked crew of gunmen who were dubbed "The Twelve Apostles," Collins killed carefully selected officials of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Dublin Metropolitan Police and British Intelligence. On Bloody Sunday , Collins' men killed fourteen of the British intelligence officers from the Cairo Gang. In almost every case, the British officers were shot dead in their beds without a chance to defend themselves. That afternoon, a combined force of British security forces shot into the crowd during a Gaelic football match at Croke Parkmarker killing many innocent civilians. The hostilities ended in 1921 when the British Government negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which guaranteed the independence of the Irish Free State.

After independence, the Irish Civil War was fought between those IRA veterans who accepted the Treaty and those who considered it unacceptable. Although fought between men who had recently served together against the British, the fighting was often without quarter and brutal atrocities were committed by both sides. (see Executions during the Irish Civil War).

United Kingdom (UK)

During the Irish war of independence in 1916-21, the British forces are alleged to have organised several secret assassination squads. In 1920 alone the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force murdered the mayors of Limerick and Cork cities. In Limerick, the replacement mayor was also murdered, while in Cork, the new mayor died after a 74 day hunger strike.

In Northern Irelandmarker, various paramilitary groups and members of the British armed forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary killed without lawful excuse during The Troubles. During the 30 years of the The Troubles in Northern Ireland, both nationalist and loyalist paramilitary forces organised assassination squads. Notable cases include Brian Nelson, an Ulster Defence Association member and British Army agent convicted of sectarian murders.


During the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War, Vladimir Lenin used the Cheka to murder members of the House of Romanov, the Russian nobility, officers of the White Army, Russian Orthodox priests and laity, and officials of the Russian Provisional Government.

During the late Great Purge, the Sovietmarker government under Joseph Stalin used death squads in the secret police force, the NKVD, to hunt down and kill suspected political opponents. Mass graves from this era continue to be excavated by Memorial .

The most infamous action of Soviet death squads in the 20th century was the Katyn massacremarker of 1940. Several thousand Polish Army officers were transferred by the NKVD from the GULAG and shot to death at Goat Hill and buried in mass graves inside the forests of Katynmarker. The transportation vehicles for this were given the nickname 'Black Ravens' by the local peasantry. This phrase echoes other nicknames given to other death squads.

In addition, a large number of Anti-Communists in the West were also targeted for assassination. Two of the most notable victims were Lev Rebet and Stefan Bandera, Ukrainian nationalists who were assassinated by the KGBmarker in Munichmarker, West Germanymarker. Both deaths were believed accidental until the 1961 defection of their murderer, Bohdan Stashynsky.

After the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Army in the late 1970s and through the 1980s they continued to use death squads. The occasional massacre using rifles in a district here, the use of aerodynamic scatterable land mines (which appeared vaguely toy-like) to kill civilians in another. The use of this strategy to conquer Afghanistan was rendered ineffective through the influence and support of Western Intelligence services such as the Pakistani ISI the Frenchmarker SDECE, MI6marker, and the American CIA.

The Russian security apparatus continued to exist after the technical dissolution of the USSRmarker in 1991.

The corruption of the Soviet era caused Boris Yeltsin's privatization policies to be manipulated by corrupt Party bosses, black marketeers, and the Russian Mafia. The resulting looting of State businesses and natural resources has created an oligarchy wherein politicians, banks, and corporate officials behaved more like drug cartels than pillars of the community. These conditions allowed criminal gangs to flourish during the 1990s. The new Russian elites are known to use death squads, and many gruesome murders of mobsters and high ranking politicians took place throughout the 1990s. More recently, however, they have become more subtle.

The FSB is as of 2006 the primary arm used by the authorities for wetwork in non-war zones. 'Disappearances' are still not unknown in the capital Moscow.

The Russian military continued to use death squads in war zones however after the cessation of official hostilities there were be less reports of their activities.


Prior to World War II, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Unionmarker fought a war by proxy during the Spanish Civil War. There were death squads used by both the Falangists and Loyalists during this conflict. Prominent victims of the era's death squad violence include the poet Federico Garcia Lorca and journalist Ramiro Ledesma Ramos.

The Loyalist death squads were heavily staffed by members of Stalin's OGPU and targeted members of the Catholic clergy and the Spanish nobility for assassination (see Red Terror ).

According to author Donald Rayfield,
"Stalin, Yezhov, and Beria distrusted Soviet participants in the Spanish war.
Military advisors like Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, journalists like Koltsov were open to infection by the heresies, especially Trotsky's, prevalent among the Republic's supporters.
NKVD agents sent to Spain were therefore keener on abducting and murdering anti-Stalinists among Republican leaders and International Brigade commanders than on fighting Franco.
The defeat of the Republic, in Stalin's eyes, was caused not by the NKVD's diversionary efforts, but by the treachery of the heretics."

The ranks of the Loyalist assassination squads included Erich Mielke, the future head of the East Germanmarker Ministry of State Security. Walter Janka, a veteran of the Republican forces who remembers him described Mielke's career as follows,
"While I was fighting at the front, shooting at the Fascists, Mielke served in the rear, shooting Trotskyites and Anarchists."

In the modern era, G.A.L.(Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación) terrorist group were death squads illegally set up by officials within the Spanish government to fight ETA. They were active from 1983 until 1987, under PSOE's cabinets.


The Srebrenica Massacre, also known as the Srebrenica Genocide, was the July 1995 killing of an estimated 8,000 Bosniak men and boys, as well as the ethnic cleansing of 25,000-30,000 refugees in the area of Srebrenicamarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska under the command of General Ratko Mladić during the Bosnian War. In addition to the VRS, a paramilitary unit from Serbiamarker known as the Scorpions participated in the massacre.

In Potočari, some of the executions were carried out at night under arc lights, and industrial bulldozers then pushed the bodies into mass graves.Graham Jones. Srebrenica: A Triumph of Evil, CNN May 3, 2006 According to evidence collected from Bosniaks by French policeman Jean-René Ruez, some were buried alive; he also heard testimony describing Serb forces killing and torturing refugees at will, streets littered with corpses, people committing suicide to avoid having their noses, lips and ears chopped off, and adults being forced to watch the soldiers kill their children.

The Srebrenica massacre is the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II. In 2004, in a unanimous ruling on the "Prosecutor v. Krstić" case, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia marker located in The Haguemarker ruled that the Srebrenica massacre was genocide,

Middle East


The Israeli intelligence and Hamas militants have been in a steady war of attrition with each other, regularly killing local officials since the Fatah–Hamas conflict began in December 2006.

On December 14, 2006, the Supreme Court of Israelmarker ruled that targeted killing is a legitimate form of self-defense against terrorists, and outlined several conditions for its use..


Under the reign of by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941-1979) the SAVAK security and intelligence service was founded. During the 1960s and 70s it used death squads . After the Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah, human rights groups continued to complain of human rights abuses in Iran. Among them were "death squads" in the form of killings of civilians by government agents that were denied by the government. This was particularly the case during the 1990s when more than 80 writers, translators, poets, political activists, and ordinary citizens who had been critical of the government in some way, disappeared or were found murdered. During the 1950s a regime was put in power through the efforts of the CIA, in which the Shah (hereditary monarch) used SAVAK death squads to kill thousands. After the revolution death squads were used by the new regime. In 1983 the CIA gave one of the leaders of Iran Khomeini information on KGBmarker agents in Iran. This information was probably used.The Iranian regime later used death squads occasionally throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s however by the 2000s it has appeared to almost entirely if not all cease their operation. This partial Westernization of the country can be seen paralleling similar events in Lebanonmarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker, and Northern Iraqmarker beginning in the late 1990s


Iraqmarker was formed by the British from three provinces of the Ottoman Empire following the empire's breakup after World War I. Its population is overwhelming Muslims but divided into Shia and Sunni Arabs and with a substantial Kurdish minority in the north. The new state leadership in the capital of Baghdadmarker was composed mostly of the old Sunni Arab elite although this ethnic group was a minority.

This leadership used death squads and committed massacres in Iraq throughout the 20th century, culminating in the dictatorship of Saddam Hussien.

After Saddam was overthrown by the UK-US invasion in 2003 the secular socialist Baathist leadership were replaced with a provisional and later constitutional government that included leadership roles for the Shia and Kurdish. This paralleled the development of ethnic militias by the Shia, Sunni, and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

During the course of the Iraq War the country has increasingly become divided into three zones: a Kurdish ethnic zone to the north, a Sunni center and the Shia ethnic zone to the south.

While all three groups have operated death squads,in the national capital of Baghdad some members of the now Shia police department and army formed unofficial, unsanctioned, but long tolerated death squads. They possibly have links to the Interior Ministry and are popularly known as the 'black crows'. These groups operated night or day. They usually arrested people, then either tortured Iraq's Death Squads or killed them.

The victims of these attacks were predominantly young males who had probably been suspected of being members of the Sunni insurgency. Agitators such as Abdul Razaq al-Na’as, Dr. Abdullateef al-Mayah, and Dr. Wissam Al-Hashimi have also been killed. Women and children have also been arrested and or killed. Some of these killings have also been simple robberies or other criminal activities.

A feature in a May 2005 issue of the magazine of The New York Times accused the U.S. military of modelling the "Wolf Brigade", the Iraqi interior ministry police commandos, on the death squads used in the 1980s to crush the Marxist insurgency in El Salvadormarker.

Western news organizations such as Time and People disassembled this by focusing on the aspects such as probable militia membership, religious ethnicity, as well as uniforms worn by these squads rather than stating the United Statesmarker backed Iraqi government had death squads active in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Iraqmarker has also suffered badly since the post-invasion insurgency of 2005. Iraqmarker was formed by British partitioning and domination of various tribal land in the early 20th century. The British later departed. They left behind a national government led from Baghdadmarker that was mostly made up of Sunni ethnicity in key positions of power that ruled over an ad-hoc nation splintered by tribal affiliations. This leadership used death squads and committed massacres in Iraq throughout the 20th century, culminating in the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

The country has since become increasingly partitioned following the Iraq War into three zones: a Kurdish ethnic zonemarker to the north, a Sunni center and the Shia ethnic zone to the south, with the secular Arab socialist Baathist leadership were replaced with a provisional and later constitutional government that included leadership roles for the Shia and Kurdish peoples of this nation.

There were death squads formed by members of every ethnicity. In the national capital of Baghdad some members of the now Shia police department and army formed unofficial, unsanctioned, but long tolerated death squads. They possibly have links to the Interior Ministry and are popularly known as the 'black crows'. These groups operated night or day. They usually arrested people, then either tortured or killed them.

The victims of these attacks were predominantly young males who had probably been suspected of being members of the Sunni insurgency. Agitators such as Abdul Razaq al-Na'as, Dr. Abdullateef al-Mayah, and Dr. Wissam Al-Hashimi have also been killed. These killings are not limited to only men. Women and children have at times have also been arrested and or killed. Some of these killings have also been simple robberies or other criminal activities.


Death squads were active during the civil war from 1975 to 1990. The number of the disappeared is put around 17,000.


Ivory Coast

Death squads are active in this country.

This has been condemned by the US but appears to be difficult to stop.

Human rights groups

Many human rights organisations like Amnesty International along with the UN are campaigning against extrajudicial punishment .

Extrajudicial Killings Summit

The 22nd PUNO Supreme Court is set to hold a National Consultative Summit on extrajudicial killings on July 16 and 17, 2007 at the Manila Hotelmarker. Invited representatives from the three branches of the government will participate (including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the PNP, CHR, media, academe, civil society and other stakeholders).

  • Puno will give the keynote speech and closing remarks. Puno searches for major solutions to solve forced disappearances.
  • During the first day of the summit, the speakers will present their respective papers comprising significant inputs from their respective sectors, while on the second day, the participants will break out into 12 groups (chaired by a Justice) and take part in a workshop. Local and international observers (the diplomatic corps and representatives from various international organizations) will be accredited.
  • Puno announced that "the summit highlight will be a plenary session where each of the 12 groups shall report to the body their recommended resolutions. The reports and proposals will be synthesized and then transmitted to the concerned government agencies for appropriate action."
  • The earlier slated Malacañangmarker-sponsored "Mindanao Peace and Security Summit (July 8-10, 2007 at Cagayan de Oro City), focussed on how to make the anti-terror law, or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, more acceptable to the public.
  • On July 16, 2007, Justices, activists, militant leaders, police officials, politicians and prelates attended the Supreme Court's two-day summit at the Manila Hotel in Manila Citymarker to map out ways to put an end to the string of extrajudicial killings in the Philippinesmarker. Bayan was set to launch their "silent protest," but expressed support for the high court's initiative. Director Geary Barias, chief of the police's anti-killings Task Force Usig, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, re-elected party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis) attended. Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno said that the "National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Forced Disappearances: Searching for Solutions," would help stop the murders. Delegates were given 12 to 15 minutes each to share their insights and knowledge about the matter. Yniguez accused the government of failing to actively pursue investigations on the hundreds of killings and the Catholic Church was alarmed that victims have been denied their "fundamental right" to live.
  • Based on Yniguez-church's count, the number of victims of extrajudicial killings has reached 778, while survivors of "political assassinations," was pegged at 370. He also noted 203 "massacre" victims, 186 people who involuntarily disappeared, 502 tortured, and others who were illegally arrested. Yniguez similarly criticized the government's alleged insistence on implementing its Oplan Bantay Laya I and II (the military's counter-insurgency operation plans which militants have said consider legal people's organizations as targets).
  • Meanwhile, Bayan urged the Supreme Court to "check serious threats to civil liberties and basic freedoms" including the anti-terror law or the Human Security Act of 2007, which took effect on July 15 despite protests from leftist groups.
  • Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. will join Bayan and other leftist groups as petitioners in their formal pleading before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the law. Human rights lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) will serve as lead counsel. Bayan chair Carol Araullo said the respondents will include members of the Anti-Terrorism Council headed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Raul Gonzalez. Earlier, [CBCP president Angel Lagdameo] pointed out at least 5 provisions of the law that may threaten civil liberties: Sec. 19 allows detentions of mere suspects for more than three days in the event of an actual or terrorist attack, while Section 26 allows house arrest despite the posting of bail, and prohibits the right to travel and to communicate with others; Sec. 39 allows seizure of assets while Sec. 7 allows surveillance and wiretapping of suspects; Sec. 26 allows the investigation of bank deposits and other assets.

See also


  1. Death Squads in Global Perspective: Murder with Deniability”,Campbell and Brenner, eds.
  2. El Salvador’s Decade of Terror, Americas Watch, Human Rights Watch Books, Yale University Press,1991,21
  3. Torture and Extrajudicial Killings in Iraq
  4. ei: Extrajudicial Killings
  5. USA: An Extrajudicial Execution by the CIA? | Amnesty International
  6. Proof of US orchestration of Death Squads Killings in Iraq
  7. Soccer Dad: Extra-judicial killings, hamas style
  8. El Salvador death squads
  9. Document Information | Amnesty International
  10. El Salvador: War, Peace, and Human Rights, 1980-1994
  11. Bangladesh: Release Journalist and Rights Activist | All American Patriots
  12. The problem of "encounter deaths" - extra-judicial killings - in India (by K. C. Saleem) - Media Monitors Network (MMN)
  13. BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Kashmir's extra-judicial killings
  14. USA Condemns India over Kashmir
  15. The Politics of Extra-judicial Killings
  16. US Tamils call for stop to extra-judicial killings by Sri Lanka
  17. India: Extrajudicial killings under the spotlight
  18. Planet Ark : Villagers Tortured to Death in Ivory Coast Park - UN
  19. Ivory Coast
  20. Ivory Coast First Lady Leads Death Squad, Report Alleges (
  21. Louis-Jodel Chamblain - JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM
  23. Aristide Back in Caribbean Heat
  24. Brazil: Irene Khan urges government collaboration to end violence | Amnesty International
  25. Philippines army accused of killing political activists - Asia, World - The Independent
  26. BBC NEWS | UK | Obituary: Alexander Litvinenko
  27. THAILAND: Extrajudicial killing, impunity
  29. STOP Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines
  30. Scared Silent: Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines
  32. Radio Pinoy USA
  33. PC(USA) News: ‘Graft and corruption’
  34. Interview of Paul Aussaresses by Marie-Monique Robin in Escadrons de la mort - l'école française ( See here, starting at 8min38)
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  37. Germany on the Eve of the Great Depression: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal
  38. Amnesty International – Getting Away With Murder: Political Killings and Disappearances in the 1990’s, 1993,36
  39. Chile priest charged over deaths, BBC, 1st September 2007
  40. Caravan of Death, Memoria y Justicia
  41. Procesan a Pinochet y ordenan su arresto por los secuestros y homicidios de la "Caravana de la Muerte", 20minutos, 28 November 2006.
  42. Rangel, Alfredo (editor); William Ramírez Tobón, Juan Carlos Garzón, Stathis Kalyvas, Ana Arjona, Fidel Cuéllar Boada, Fernando Cubides Cipagauta (2005). El Poder Paramilitar. Bogotá: Editorial Planeta Colombiana S.A., 26.
  43. Sentencia Caso La Cantuta (Julio Ronald Salazar Monroe y otros)
  44. Caso Barrios Altos
  45. Sótanos del SIE
  46. Comando Rodrigo Franco
  47. Bonner, Raymond, Weakness and Deceit:: U.S. Policy and El Salvador, New York Times Books, 1984, p.330
  48. Arnson, Cynthia J. Window on the Past: A Declassified History of Death Squads in El Salvador in “Death Squads in Global Perspective: Murder with Deniability”, Campbell and Brenner, eds, 88
  49. When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty. -
  50. America's trinity of terrorism | Salon News
  51. Chandler, David. The Killing Fields. At The Digital Archive Of Cambodian Holocaust Survivors. [2]
  52. Peace Pledge Union Information -- Talking about genocides -- Cambodia 1975 -- the genocide.
  53. Time " The Massacre at Dak Son." 15 December 1967.
  54. Unknown Truth about Korea
  55. Channel 4 - History - Tit for tat
  56. Arthur D. Brenner and Bruce B. Campbell, Eds. New York: St. Martin's Press (2000).
  57. Gareau, Frederick H., "State Terrorism and the United States", Zed Books, 2004
  58. US trained butchers of Timor | World news |
  59. December Archives: MEXICO: Massacre of 45 in Chiapas
  62. The Hunger- Strike of the Lord Mayor of Cork, 1920: Irish, English and Vatican Attitudes Stuart Mews, 1920, referenced by The I.R.A. and its enemies: violence and community in Cork, 1916-1923 by Peter Hart
  63. Hsw
  64. Opinion: A grim lesson from Ulster
  65. CAIN: Issues: Violence - 'Violence in Northern Ireland, 1969-June 1989'
  66. BBC News | EUROPE | N.Ireland police arrest 2 suspected of sectarian killing
  67. BBC News | UK | Tit-for-tat murders in N Ireland
  68. ::The Katyn Wood Massacre::
  69. Kakar, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response
  70. FSB Reform: Changes Are Few and Far between
  71. The Jamestown Foundation
  72. Chechen Terrorist Shamil Basayev Killed by Russian FSB - The Long War Journal
  73. AGR Online/ World News
  74. Galina Starovoitova
  75. Putin's War
  76. Death Squad Killing Ukrainian Journalists? - Pravda.Ru
  77. European Court Sides With Chechen Mother
  78. Human Rights Violations in Chechnya
  79. Overview on human rights violations in Chechnya
  81. Court Holds Russia Responsible for Chechen's Death : NPR
  82. Donald Rayfield, Stalin and his Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him, Random House, 2004. Pages 362-363.
  83. John Koehler, "The Stasi," page 48.
  84. "Serbia: Mladic “Recruited” Infamous Scorpions". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. [3]
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  88. Summary of Israeli Supreme Court Ruling on Targeted Killings Dec 14 2006
  89. Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions, (1999)
  90. Elaine Sciolino, Persian Mirrors : the Elusive Face of Iran, Free Press, 2000, p.241
  91. dailykos
  92. US patrols to weed out militias posing as Iraqi police | World news | The Guardian
  93. [5]
  94. BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq 'death squad caught in act'
  95. Daily Kos: History of Iraq: 1933 - 1939
  96. "Disappearances" in Lebanon (Human Rights Watch, 13-4-2000)
  97. Syria: Account for the "Disappeared" (Human Rights Watch, 9-11-1999)
  98. Project on Extrajudicial Executions
  99. UN independent expert on extrajudicial killings urges action on reported incidents
  100. Dickey: Iraq, Salvador and Death-Squad Democracy - Newsweek The War in Iraq -
  101. Special Forces May Train Assassins, Kidnappers in Iraq - Newsweek The War in Iraq -
  102., SC slates summit on extrajudicial killings
  103. GMA NEWS.TV, Chief Justice unfazed by Palace meet
  104. GMA NEWS.TV, Justices, activists, prelates map out ways to end killings

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