Iraq Yazidis want Big Tech held to account for Islamic State crimes

[Published here on February 17, 2022]

BEIRUT, Feb 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Wahhab Hassoo’s family had to pay $80,000 to buy the release of his niece from the Islamic State (IS) militants who abducted her in 2014, and then offered her “for sale” in a WhatsApp group.

Now, Hassoo’s family and dozens of others from Iraq’s minority Yazidi community want social media companies to be held to account, accusing them of having facilitated the trafficking of Yazidi women and girls by the jihadists.

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Investigating corruption between lockdowns & explosions | Marie Colvin Journalist Network

[Published here June 1, 2021]

“Money makes the world go round” is a well-known saying. In Iraq, however, it is “dirty money”. Even after more than a year living in Baghdad, I still got surprised by how much of public life in the war-weary country relied on the circulation of illicit funds – and how formalised this corruption had become. 

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City of New Beginnings | Shako Mako

[Published here May 2, 2021]

I still remember the day we met, Baghdad and me.

It was the first day of November when I cut through a sky of easy, gentle blue to touch down at her airport. I was surprisingly calm about being introduced, despite her intimidating reputation as dangerous, scarred, broken. She’s seen a lot of ugly shit in her long, long life, everyone reminded me, and it shows. They continued: You’re making yourself miserable. You’re making your parents miserable. As my move approached, my coiffed aunts only grew more incredulous. “Baghdad?” they squealed, clutching their pearls. “But why?”‬ 

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‘Worse than a jungle’: the cartel controlling Iraqi borders | AFP

[Published here March 29, 2021]

Along Iraq’s borders, a corrupt customs-evasion cartel is diverting billions of dollars away from state coffers to line the pockets of armed groups, political parties and crooked officials.

The prime beneficiaries are Iran-linked Shiite paramilitaries that intimidate federal officials who dare obstruct them, sometimes through chillingly specific death threats, a six-month AFP investigation has found.

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