Det kalles «Happiness Hotel» og får stadig nye «gjester». Den bitre humoren gjelder en søppelplass i Sadri City hvor shia-dødsskvadronene dumper sine ofre. Verst er Abu Deraa, som sammenlignes med Abu Musab Zarqawi. Han viser noe av den samme oppfinnsomhet som preget Saddam Hussein: alt dreier seg om å spre død og frykt.
Det er sunni-terroren mot shiaene som har latt menn som Abu Deraa stige frem. Da shiaene først ga etter for hevnlysten, forsøkte de å overgå fienden. Nå er de i full gang med å rense Bagdad. De har Muqtadah al-Sadr i ryggen, og han og Mahdi-militsen nyter stor popularitet i Sadr City. Om Nuri al-Maliki tør ta et oppgjør med de verste utskuddene, vil avgjøre om amerikanerne kan gjennomføre sin plan.
Each day the police find more bodies dumped in shallow graves on wasteland known by Iraqis as the macabre «Happiness Hotel». They have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered after being accused of attacking Shi’ite shrines or of involvement in the daily bombings which are tearing Baghdad apart.
Another of Deraa’s high- profile victims is Khamis al-Obeidi, Saddam Hussein’s lawyer, who was abducted and murdered. A grim video recorded on a mobile phone shows his hands being tied behind his back by a man believed to be Deraa.
He pleads for his life but is put into the back of a Toyota truck and paraded through Baghdad’s vast Sadr city, where the crowds taunt him with Shi’ite slogans and stone him. At one point he is hit on the back of the neck — a big insult to Muslims. The vehicle stops. Obeidi is forced out and Deraa puts three bullets in his head.
In another operation Deraa reportedly acquired a fleet of ambulances and drove them into a Sunni neighbourhood of Baghdad. He tricked groups of young men to come forward and give blood to help Sunni brothers who, he said, were being «slaughtered by the Shi’ites». But once the young men approached, he trapped and killed them.
By such deeds Deraa has won a reputation as perhaps the single most brutal mass murderer in Iraq. He is seen as a Shi’ite version of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who caused such mayhem before he was killed by the Americans last year.
The Americans have no doubt that Deraa and the Mahdi army are linked. They say the key man they arrested on Friday, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji, who is the director of Sadr’s main office in Sadr city and the cleric’s spokesman, is a «high-level, illegal armed group leader» who is involved in kidnapping, torturing and killing civilians, heading and working with death squad commanders and armed cells and carrying out sectarian revenge murders across the city.