Arkady finagled his way into getting the permission of American-trained Emergency Response Division (ERD) ground forces to follow them around and document their activities, the Toronto Star Reported. The photographer expected to see the elite fighting team’s heroism as they liberated Iraq from extremist factions like Daesh and Al Qaeda.
That is, until he saw the true nature of their operations: Daesh-affiliated men left hanging from the ceiling like rag dolls with their ankles mangled together by AV cords. At least 400 pictures from Arkady detail some of the most horrible abuses by the guys supposedly fighting to defeat the oppressors.
— A SherJan Baloch (@ASJBaloch) May 28, 2017
Arkady explained to the Toronto Star that some ERD troops lived by the motto that the ends justify the means: If torture is what it took to beat Daesh, they were up for it, even if it meant becoming the very face of evil they sought to destroy.
But then Iraqi troops asked him to participate in the torture. Fearing his life, he did. “I had no anger against these men,” Arkady said in a recent interview, “but I hit them.”
“It was very bad,” he confessed, noting that at the time he thought to himself, “I am scared for my life.”
Following his unwilling participation in the very crimes he was documenting, Arkady released some of his photographs to a confidante. He has since fled with his family, fearing assassination or murder by government troops.
US President Donald Trump campaigned on bringing back the ineffective and cruel use of waterboarding suspected terrorists. “I happen to feel it does work,” Trump told Fox on January 27, “torture or waterboarding or however you want to define it — enhanced interrogation, I guess would be the word.”
A Pentagon spokesman quickly shut down Trump’s proposed violations of international norms established following the Second World War: “Secretary [James] Mattis said in his confirmation process that he will abide by … the Law of Armed Conflict, Geneva Conventions and US law, and that has not changed.”
Nevertheless, human rights watchdogs suspect torture has become more prevalent since Trump took office.
“We used to see videos and pictures like this more often in Iraq a few years ago, and I firmly believe that we are seeing them less these days not because there is less abuse, but because commanders have understood that it is best not to allow imagery of their abuses to surface,” Human Rights Watch senior Iraq researcher Belkis Wille told news.com.au.