Mindless Thug Iraq-Haiti-Libya

Tribal Structure and History

In addition to the ethnic profile of Kirkuk itself we also needed a good breakdown of the tribes themselves, particularly in the semi-circular band around Kirkuk from the South around to the West of the city, our Area of Operations. We went straight to the tribe members themselves and put together the following. The accounts are subjective. That said, they are straight from the horses’ mouths and not some glossy pamphlet. The honesty won’t be found from a spokesperson or ‘community leader’ in our media at home. The sentences are very literal in the attempt to respect the accuracy of the translations.


Conflict Resolution within the Fookhoot.

“There are many problems within the fookhoot. The number one problem is killing and there are two main options for dealing with it.

1st option. Reunion of all sub-sheikhs plus the head sheikh as head of council in the affected sub sheikh’s house. The council can be held without reference to legal courts.

2nd option. Reunion of all sub-sheikhs in the house of the head sheikh to prevent revenge killings getting out of hand.”

Do revenge killings often get out of hand?

“Sometimes the revenge killings start the same day. A gang from the affected family will look for the killer. If they can’t find him they may kill his brother.”

Will they normally stop at killing one brother?

“Then the problem is the next family who want to revenge the innocent victim. The problem can quickly spiral out of control with the government being forced to intervene in some of the larger tribal conflicts. Checkpoints will have to be established to forcibly separate the members until a solution can be found. At the reunion the solution is often the payment of blood money (in fussal) or possibly the giving of one or several female members of the tribe in marriage to the affected family. The government follows with possibly a ten year sentence. When released however, the guilty party will often be tracked down and killed if a suitable solution has not been arrived at during the reunion.

According to tribal law if the killer goes straight to a house within his fookhoot admitting to what he has done the householder must protect that individual even if he has killed his the brother of the householder. If a gang comes for the killer the householder must fight to protect him.

If the killer leaves the house then he is no longer the householders responsibility. The payment of ‘In fussal’ (blood money) is money from the killers family. Marriage may be used to bond the families closer together or the killer may be exiled for a year or two so as the affected family can avoid the sight of him and forget the event. (Blood) money from all the houses in the fookhoot is calculated according to the number of sons over the age of 18 years plus the living father.

Example; The victim’s family wants 1,000,000 Iraqi Dinars.

The head sheikh divides 1,000,000 by the number of males over the age of eighteen in his tribe. If he was to arrive at 10,000 Dinars per male a household with three sons over eighteen and a living father will pay 40,000 Dinars.”


“If a couple has sex out of marriage both of them may be killed. If the families are close an agreement may be arrived at where the girl’s family can demand girls from the boy’s family for marriage to the boys in their family. The offending couple must then marry. It is the girl’s family who can demand because it is considered that the boy has committed the greater wrong. If the boy were to run away the girl would be killed directly without negotiation and the hunt for the boy would begin. The girl would be killed by her brother, uncle or cousin.

After ’91 and the failure of the Kuwait campaign Saddam Hussein used the tribal system to control Iraq, simply implementing a reporting system to see what was going on but allowing the sheikhs to handle the day to day affairs and run the tribunals.

Saddam told the mayors of the towns and villages to cooperate with the sheikhs to control their areas. These problems also happened within Saddam’s own tribe in Tikrit. Two women from Saddam’s tribe had relations with their bodyguards and Saddam asked his half-brother, Sa’ab Arwi, to burn both of them to death with gasoline along with the bodyguards involved. This was done in the village of Orja, Saddam’s birthplace, in 1994.”

How do people know this happened?

“Because all the men who are close relatives from the tribe were assembled to watch the burning.”

The victims knew what was going to happen to them?

“Yes. Everybody in the tribe already knows they will be killed if they do this but they thought they could keep it a secret. In Saddam’s tribe they tried to keep their traditions and to keep the women to marry only within the tribe. The only courses women who went to college were allowed to do were teaching degrees.”

“According to tribal law if a man steals something within the tribe then the value of the item will be multiplied by four and that will be the price he will have to pay. The greater price will be the shame however. Nobody will give their daughters to marry his sons and this shame will be passed through the generations. His sons will be forced to find brides outside the tribe.”
If he steals outside the tribe?
“There are three options.
First. The tribe will try to pay by levying each member of the tribe over the age of eighteen.
Second. Exile. The closest relative will break a stick in front in front of the thief. This symbolizes that the thief may never return to the tribe. He must take his family and live far from the tribe’s lands i.e. the city.
Third. Death. If the victim kills the thief nobody in the tribe will ask for blood money.
The difference between a thief and a killer is that a solution can be arrived at the ‘in fussal’ (reunion) for a killing to put the difference behind the parties, ‘Joe al f’rarsh’, but for a thief this is never given.”