The Pentagon yesterday announced the names of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman charged with the April 26 kidnapping and murder of a 52-year-old Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania. The accusations are grave and, if proved, will almost certainly lead to severe sentences. We suspect no parallel process is taking place among Iraqi insurgents for the weekend murders near Yusufiya of U.S. soldiers Thomas L. Tucker and Kristian Menchaca.
Privates Tucker and Menchaca were not simply ambushed, taken prisoner and killed. "The torture was something unnatural," said Major General Abdul Azziz Mohammed Jassim of Iraq's Defense Ministry, hinting at the state of the soldiers' remains. The corpses were so mutilated that they could be positively identified only through DNA testing.
Here, then, is the enemy we face in Iraq: not nationalists or extremists or even fanatics, but something like a band of real-life Hannibal Lecters for whom human slaughter is both business and religious fulfillment. Following the killing, an Internet statement said to be from the Mujahadeen Shura Council praised Abu Hamza al-Muhajir–who is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's successor as head of Al Qaeda in Iraq–with "the implementation of the sentence." Note the legalistic pretensions: This is the kind of "justice" Iraqis could expect should the insurgents come to power. And it is the enemy that might well come to power if the U.S. left Iraq prematurely, as many Senate Democrats urged yesterday.
No wonder so many Iraqis are risking their lives by joining the military and the police force to defend themselves against their would-be masters.