An army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has found that US officers sexually exploited Iraqi teenage prisoners and intimidated them by using military dogs, a media report said.
Major General George R Fay’s report also expanded the circle of soldiers considered responsible for abuse beyond the seven facing charges to more than a dozen others. ‘‘It had nothing to do with interrogation. It was just them on their own being weird,’’ said an Army officer familiar with the report. Some prisoners were only 15 years old. But the report seems to accept the alibi that top officers were too busy to see what was happening at the prison.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s most influential Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, returned to Iraq today and urged Iraqis to march on the ‘‘burning city’’ of Najaf, where fighting is creeping closer to its sacred shrine.
The news of Sistani’s return came as US and Iraqi forces tightened their grip around Mehdi Army militants loyal to a radical cleric who have holed up in the Imam Ali mosque. Sistani’s call could escalate passions among the majority Shi’ite community. ‘‘Najaf is burning. Ayatollah Al-Sistani is back and calls on Iraqis to join him in the holy city,’’ aide Hamed Al-Khafaf said.
A threatened Iraqi assault on the shrine has not yet gone ahead. US Army First Lieutenant Michael Throckmortan said American and Iraqi forces were trying to isolate the militia in one place before an attack.