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Death squad

Death squad

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Encyclopedia
A death squad is an armed military, police, insurgent, or terrorist squad
Squad
In military terminology, a squad is a small military unit led by a non-commissioned officer that is subordinate to an infantry platoon. In countries following the British Army tradition this organization is referred to as a section...

 that conducts extrajudicial killings, assassinations, and forced disappearance
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

s of persons as part of a war, insurgency or terror campaign. These killings are often conducted in ways meant to ensure the secrecy
Secrecy
Secrecy is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups, perhaps while sharing it with other individuals...

 of the killers' identities, so as to avoid accountability.

Death squads are often, but not exclusively, associated with the violent political repression
Political repression
Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take political life of society....

 under dictatorships, totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 states and similar regimes. They typically have the tacit or express support of the state, as a whole or in part (see state terrorism
State terrorism
State terrorism may refer to acts of terrorism conducted by a state against a foreign state or people. It can also refer to acts of violence by a state against its own people.-Definition:...

). Death squads may comprise a secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 force, paramilitary group or official government units with members drawn from the military or the police. They may also be organized as vigilante groups.

"Extrajudicial killings" are the illegal killing of leading political, trades union, dissidents, and social figures by either the state government, state authorities like the armed forces and police (as in Liberia under Charles G. Taylor), or criminal outfits such as the Italian Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

.

Extrajudicial killings and death squads are most common in the Middle East (mostly in Iraq), Central America, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the part of Jammu and Kashmir that it occupies, Sri Lanka, several nations or regions in Equatorial Africa
Equatorial Africa
Equatorial Africa is an ambiguous term that is sometimes used to refer to tropical Africa, or the region of Sub-Saharan Africa traversed by the equator....

, Jamaica, Kosovo, many parts of South America, Uzbekistan, parts of Thailand and in the Philippines.

History


Although the term "death squad" did not rise to notoriety until the activities of such groups in Central and South America during the 1970s and 1980s became widely known, death squads have been employed under different guises throughout history. The term was first used during the Battle of Algiers
Battle of Algiers
Battle of Algiers or Algiers expedition may refer to:* The Siege of Algiers by Spain leading to the establishment of the Peñón of Algiers* The Capture of Algiers by Aruj Barbarossa* The Capture of Algiers by Hayreddin Barbarossa...

 by Paul Aussaresses
Paul Aussaresses
Paul Aussaresses is a retired French Army general, who fought during World War II, the First Indochina War and Algerian War...

.

One of the earliest cases of extrajudicial killings was in Weimar Germany.

Cold war usage


In Southeast Asia, extrajudicial killings were present in the context of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. Nguyễn Văn Lém
Nguyen Van Lem
Nguyễn Văn Lém was a member of the Viet Cong who was summarily executed in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. The execution was captured on film by photojournalist Eddie Adams, and the momentous image became a symbol of the inhumanity of war...

 (referred to as Captain Bay Lop) (died 1 February 1968 in Saigon) was a member of the Viet Cong who was summarily executed in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. The picture of his death would became one of many an anti-Vietnam War icons in the Western World.

During the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, death squads were used against the Viet Cong cadre as well as supporters in neighbouring countries (notably Cambodia). See also Phoenix Program
Phoenix Program
The Phoenix Program |phoenix]]) was a controversial counterinsurgency program designed, coordinated, and executed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency , United States special operations forces, and the Republic of Vietnam's security apparatus during the Vietnam War that operated...

 (also known as Phung Hoang). The Viet Cong also used death squads of their own against civilians for political reasons.

In Latin America, death squads appeared first in Brazil where a group called Esquadrão da Morte (literally "Death Squad") emerged in the 1960s; then death squads apperead in Argentina, and Chile in the 1970s; and later in Central America in the 1980s. Argentina used extrajudicial killings as way of crushing the liberal and communist opposition to the military junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

 during the 'Dirty war
Dirty War
The Dirty War was a period of state-sponsored violence in Argentina from 1976 until 1983. Victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists, including trade unionists, students, journalists, Marxists, Peronist guerrillas and alleged sympathizers, either proved or suspected...

' of the 1970s. Alianza Anticomunista Argentina
Alianza Anticomunista Argentina
The Argentine Anticommunist Alliance was a right-wing death squad active in Argentina during the mid-1970s, particularly active under Isabel Perón's rule . Initially associated with the Peronist right, the organisation was bitterly in conflict with the Peronist left and other left organizations...

, a far-right death squad mainly active during the "Dirty War". The Chilean military regime of 1973–1990 also committed such killings. See Operation Condor
Operation Condor
Operation Condor , was a campaign of political repression involving assassination and intelligence operations officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America...

 for examples.

During the Salvadoran civil war
El Salvador Civil War
The Salvadoran Civil War was a conflict in El Salvador between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front , a coalition or umbrella organization of five left-wing militias. Significant tensions and violence had already existed, before the civil...

, death squads achieved notoriety when a sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero
Óscar Romero
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding Luis Chávez. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980....

 during Mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

 in March 1980. In December 1980, three American nuns, Ita Ford
Ita Ford
Ita Ford, M.M. was a Roman Catholic Maryknoll Sister missionary to Bolivia, Chile and El Salvador. She worked with the poor and war refugees. On December 2, 1980, she was tortured, raped, and murdered, along with fellow missionaries Maura Clarke, M.M., laywoman Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel,...

, Dorothy Kazel
Dorothy Kazel
Dorothy Kazel was an American Ursuline nun and missionary to El Salvador. On December 2, 1980, she and fellow missionaries Ita Ford, Jean Donovan and Maura Clarke were raped and murdered by members of the military of El Salvador.-Life and work:Kazel was born Dorthea Lu Kazel to Lithuanian American...

, and Maura Clarke
Maura Clarke
Sister Maura Clarke, M.M., was an American Roman Catholic Maryknoll Sister, who served as a missionary in Nicaragua and El Salvador. She worked with the poor and refugees in Central America from 1959 until her death in 1980...

, and a lay worker, Jean Donovan
Jean Donovan
Jean Donovan was an American lay missionary who was murdered with three nuns in El Salvador by a military death squad while volunteering to do charity work during the civil war there.-Life:...

, were raped and murdered by a military unit later found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing hundreds of peasants and activists, including such notable priests as Rutilio Grande
Rutilio Grande
Rutilio Grande García was a Jesuit priest in El Salvador and a promoter of liberation theology. He was assassinated in 1977, along with two other Salvadorans. He was a close friend of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero...

. Because the death squads involved were found to have been soldiers of the Salvadoran military, which was receiving U.S. funding and training from American advisors during the Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 administration, these events prompted outrage in the U.S. and led to a temporary cutoff in military aid from the Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 administration , although Death Squad activity stretched well into the Reagan years (1981–1989) as well.

Honduras also had death squads active through the 1980s, the most notorious of which was Battalion 316. Hundreds of people, teachers, politicians, and union bosses were assassinated by government-backed forces. Battalion 316 received substantial support and training from the United States Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

.

Recent use


As of 2010, death squads have continued to be active in several locations, including Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Iraq, and Sudan, among others.

Argentina


Alianza Anticomunista Argentina
Alianza Anticomunista Argentina
The Argentine Anticommunist Alliance was a right-wing death squad active in Argentina during the mid-1970s, particularly active under Isabel Perón's rule . Initially associated with the Peronist right, the organisation was bitterly in conflict with the Peronist left and other left organizations...

, a far-right death squad mainly active during the "Dirty War
Dirty War
The Dirty War was a period of state-sponsored violence in Argentina from 1976 until 1983. Victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists, including trade unionists, students, journalists, Marxists, Peronist guerrillas and alleged sympathizers, either proved or suspected...

". Amnesty International reports that “the security forces in Argentina first started using “death squads” in late 1973. By the time military rule ended in 1983 some 1,500 people had been killed directly by “death squads”, and over 9,000 named people and many more undocumented victims had been “disappeared”—kidnapped and murdered secretly—according to the officially appointed National Commission on Disappeared People (CONADEP).

Brazil


The Esquadrão da Morte ("Death Squad" in Portuguese) was a paramilitary organization that emerged in the late 1960s in the context of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship. It was the first group to received the name "Death Squad" in Latin America, but its actions sometimes resembled traditional vigilantism as several executions were not exclusively political-related. The greater share of the political executions during the twenty-one years of Military Dictatorship (1964–1985) were done by the Brazilian Armed Forces itself. The purpose of the original "Death Squad" was, with the consent of the military government, to persecute and kill suspected criminals regarded as dangerous to society. It began in the former State of Guanabara
Guanabara State
The State of Guanabara was a former Brazilian state that existed from 1960 to 1975. It comprised the city of Rio de Janeiro, after the national capital was moved to Brasília in 1960...

 led by Detective Mariscot Mariel, one of the "Twelve Golden Men of Rio de Janeiro's Police", and from there it spread throughout Brazil in the 1970s. In general, its members were politicians, members of the judiciary, and police officials. As a rule, these groups were financed by members of the business community.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several other organizations were formed modeled after the 1960s Esquadrão da Morte. The most famous of such organizations was the "Scuderie Le Cocq," named after Detective Milton Le Cocq. The group was particularly active in the Brazilian Southeastern States of Guanabara, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro (state)
Rio de Janeiro is one of the 27 states of Brazil.Rio de Janeiro has the second largest economy of Brazil behind only São Paulo state.The state of Rio de Janeiro is located within the Brazilian geopolitical region classified as the Southeast...

, and Espírito Santo
Espírito Santo
Espírito Santo is one of the states of southeastern Brazil, often referred to by the abbreviation "ES". Its capital is Vitória and the largest city is Vila Velha. The name of the state means literally "holy spirit" after the Holy Ghost of Christianity...

. In the State of São Paulo
São Paulo (state)
São Paulo is a state in Brazil. It is the major industrial and economic powerhouse of the Brazilian economy. Named after Saint Paul, São Paulo has the largest population, industrial complex, and economic production in the country. It is the richest state in Brazil...

, the work of Death Squads and individual gunmen called "justiceiros" was a common practice during the period. Here the executions were almost exclusively a work of off-duty policemen. One of them, a police officer nicknamed "Cabo Bruno", was convicted in 1983 for the killing of more than 50 victims.

The "Death Squads" that were active under the rule of the Military Dictatorship have left a lasting legacy in the culture of the Brazilian police as in the 2000s police officers were still being linked to Death-Squad-type executions. In 2003 alone roughly 2,000 people were killed in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with Amnesty international claiming the numbers are likely far higher.

Chile


One of the most notorious murder gangs operated by the Chilean Army
Chilean Army
The Chilean Army is the land arm of the Military of Chile. This 45,000-person army is organized into seven divisions, a special operations brigade and an air brigade....

 was the Caravan of Death, whose members travelled by helicopter throughout Chile between 30 September and 22 October 1973. During this foray, members of the squad ordered or personally carried out the execution of at least 75 individuals held in Army custody in these garrisons. According to the NGO Memoria y Justicia, the squad killed 26 in the South and 71 in the North, making a total of 97 victims. Augusto Pinochet was indicted
Augusto Pinochet's arrest and trial
General Augusto Pinochet was indicted for human rights violations committed in his native Chile by Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón on 10 October 1998. He was arrested in London six days later and finally released by the British government in March 2000...

 in December 2002 in this case, but he died four years later without having been convicted. The trial, however, is on-going as of September 2007, other militaries and a former military chaplain having been indicted in this case.
On 28 November 2006, Víctor Montiglio, charged of this case, ordered Pinochet's house arrest Between 5,000 and 30,000 people are believed to have been killed in the operations of Pinochet's regime. In June 1999, judge Juan Guzmán Tapia
Juan Guzmán Tapia
Juan Salvador Guzmán Tapia is a retired Chilean judge who gained international recognition for being the first judge to prosecute former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on human rights charges, after Pinochet's return to Chile following more than a year of house arrest in London, in...

 ordered the arrest of five retired generals.

Colombia


In Colombia, the terms "death squads", "paramilitaries
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

" or "self-defense
Self-defense
Self-defense, self-defence or private defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from physical harm. The use of the right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many...

 groups" have been used interchangeably and otherwise, referring to either a single phenomenon, also known as paramilitarism
Paramilitarism in Colombia
Paramilitarism in Colombia refers to the origins and activities of far right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia during the 20th century.Right-wing paramilitary groups are the parties considered to be most responsible for human rights violations in Colombia during the later half of the current...

, or to different but related aspects of the same. In 1993, Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 (AI) reported that clandestine military units began covertly operating as death squads in 1978.

According to the report, throughout the 1980s political killings rose to a peak of 3,500 in 1988, averaging some 1,500 victims per year since then, and "over 1,500 civilians are also believed to have “disappeared” since 1978." The AUC
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia was created as an umbrella organization of regional far-right...

, formed in 1997, is the most prominent paramilitary group.

A report from the country's public prosecutors office at the end of 2009 reported the number of 28,000 disappeared by paramilitary and guerrilla groups. As of 2008 only 300 corpses were identified and 600 in 2009. According to the prosecutor's office it will take many more years before all the bodies recovered can be identified.

Peru



Peruvian government death squads carried out massacres against civilians in their fight against Shining Path
Shining Path
Shining Path is a Maoist guerrilla terrorist organization in Peru. The group never refers to itself as "Shining Path", and as several other Peruvian groups, prefers to be called the "Communist Party of Peru" or "PCP-SL" in short...

 and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
The Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement was a Marxist revolutionary group active in Peru from the early 1980s to 1997 and one of the main actors in the internal conflict in Peru...

.

Venezuela


In its 2003 and 2002 world reports, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 reported the existence of death squads in several Venezuelan states, involving members of the local police, the DISIP and the National Guard. These groups were responsible for the extrajudicial killings of civilians and wanted or alleged criminals, including street criminals, looters and drug users.

El Salvador

Main articles: Ita Ford
Ita Ford
Ita Ford, M.M. was a Roman Catholic Maryknoll Sister missionary to Bolivia, Chile and El Salvador. She worked with the poor and war refugees. On December 2, 1980, she was tortured, raped, and murdered, along with fellow missionaries Maura Clarke, M.M., laywoman Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel,...

, Maura Clarke
Maura Clarke
Sister Maura Clarke, M.M., was an American Roman Catholic Maryknoll Sister, who served as a missionary in Nicaragua and El Salvador. She worked with the poor and refugees in Central America from 1959 until her death in 1980...

, Dorothy Kazel
Dorothy Kazel
Dorothy Kazel was an American Ursuline nun and missionary to El Salvador. On December 2, 1980, she and fellow missionaries Ita Ford, Jean Donovan and Maura Clarke were raped and murdered by members of the military of El Salvador.-Life and work:Kazel was born Dorthea Lu Kazel to Lithuanian American...

, Jean Donovan
Jean Donovan
Jean Donovan was an American lay missionary who was murdered with three nuns in El Salvador by a military death squad while volunteering to do charity work during the civil war there.-Life:...

, Oscar Romero
Óscar Romero
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding Luis Chávez. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980....

.


During the Salvadoran civil war
El Salvador Civil War
The Salvadoran Civil War was a conflict in El Salvador between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front , a coalition or umbrella organization of five left-wing militias. Significant tensions and violence had already existed, before the civil...

, death squads (known in Spanish by the name of Escuadrón de la Muerte, "Squadron of Death") achieved notoriety when far-right vigilantes assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero
Óscar Romero
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding Luis Chávez. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980....

 for his social activism in March 1980. In December 1980, three American nuns and a lay worker were raped and murdered by a military unit later found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing thousands of peasants and activists. Funding for the squads came primarily from right-wing Salvadoran businessmen and landowners. Because the death squads involved were found to have been soldiers of the Salvadoran military, which was receiving U.S. funding and training during the Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 and Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 administrations, these events prompted some outrage in the U.S, however human rights activists criticized U.S. administrations for denying Salvadoran government links to the death squads. Veteran Human Rights Watch researcher Cynthia J. Arnson writes that "particularly during the years 1980–1983 when the killing was at its height (numbers of killings could reach as far as 35,000), assigning responsibility for the violence and human rights abuses was a product of the intense ideological polarization in the United States. The Reagan administration downplayed the scale of abuse as well as the involvement of state actors. Because of the level of denial as well as the extent of U.S. involvement with the Salvadoran military and security forces, the U.S. role in El Salvador- what was known about death squads, when it was known, and what actions the United States did or did not take to curb their abuses- becomes an important part of El Salvador’s death squad story.”. Some death squads, such as Sombra Negra
Sombra Negra
The Sombra Negra are death squad groups based in El Salvador comprising mostly police and military personnel who target criminals and gang members for vigilante justice. Recent years have also seen increasing accusations of continuing death squad activity targeting the Salvadoran political...

, are still operating in El Salvador.

Honduras


Honduras had death squads active through the 1980s, the most notorious of which was Battalion 3–16. Hundreds of people, teachers, politicians, and union bosses were assassinated by government-backed forces. Battalion 316 received substantial support and training from the United States Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. At least 19 members were School of the Americas
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation , formerly the United States Army School of the Americas is a United States Department of Defense educational and training facility at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia in the United States...

 graduates. Seven members, including Billy Joya
Billy Joya
Billy Fernando Joya Améndola is a former Honduran military officer who worked in the controversial Battalion 3-16, national security adviser at Manuel Zelaya's government, a post in which he has continued.-Military career:...

, later played important roles in the administration of President Manuel Zelaya
Manuel Zelaya
José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is a politician who was President of Honduras from January 27, 2006 until June 28, 2009. The eldest son of a wealthy businessman, he inherited his father's nickname "Mel," and, before entering politics, was involved in his family's logging and timber businesses.Elected...

 as of mid-2006. Following the 2009 coup d'état
2009 Honduran constitutional crisis
The 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis was a political dispute over plans to rewrite the Constitution of Honduras, which culminated in a coup d'état against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya by the Honduran military...

, former Battalion 3–16 member Nelson Willy Mejía Mejía
Nelson Willy Mejía Mejía
Nelson Willy Mejía Mejía is a Honduran military officer who worked in the controversial Battalion 3-16 and government employee who is currently Director-General of Immigration.-Military career:...

 became Director-General of Immigration and Billy Joya was de facto President Roberto Micheletti
Roberto Micheletti
Roberto Micheletti Baín is a former de facto president of Honduras who served as a result of the 2009 coup d'état. The Honduran military was ordered by the Supreme Court to forcefully detain President Manuel Zelaya once the Court stated he was violating the Honduran constitution; Zelaya was exiled...

's security advisor. Another former Battalion 3–16 member, Napoleón Nassar Herrera
Napoleón Nassar Herrera
Napoleón Nassar Herrera is a Honduran military officer who worked in the controversial Battalion 3-16 who successively became leader of the General Department of Criminal Investigation , high Commissioner of Police for the north-west region in the Manuel Zelaya government, and one of the Secretary...

, was high Commissioner of Police for the north-west region under Zelaya and under Micheletti, and also became a Secretary of Security spokesperson "for dialogue" under Micheletti. Zelaya claimed that Joya had reactivated the death squad, with dozens of government opponents having been murdered since the ascent of the Michiletti and Lobo governments.

Guatemala


Throughout the Guatemalan Civil War
Guatemalan Civil War
The Guatemalan Civil War ran from 1960-1996. The thirty-six-year civil war began as a grassroots, popular response to the rightist and military usurpation of civil government , and the President's disrespect for the human and civil rights of the majority of the population...

, both military and "civilian" governments utilized death squads as a counterinsurgency strategy. The use of "death squads" as a government tactic became particularly widespread after 1966. Throughout 1966 and the first three months of 1967, within the framework of what military commentators referred to as "el-contra terror," government forces killed an estimated 8,000 civilians accused of "subversive" activity. This marked a turning point in the history of the Guatemalan security apparatus, and brought about a new era in which mass murder of both real and suspected subversives by government "death squads" became a common occurrence in the country. A noted Guatemalan sociologist estimated the number of government killings between 1966 and 1974 at approximately 5,250 a year (for a total death toll of approximately 42,000 during this period). The killing would reach its zenith in 1982 under the presidency of Efrain Rios Montt
Efraín Ríos Montt
José Efraín Ríos Montt is a former de facto President of Guatemala, dictator, army general, and former president of Congress. In the 2003 presidential elections, he unsuccessfully ran as the candidate of the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front .Huehuetenango-born Ríos Montt remains one of the most...

, with over 18,000 documented killings in that year alone.
Greg Grandin remarks that "Washington, of course, publicly denied its support for paramilitarism, but the practice of political disappearances took a great leap forward in Guatemala in 1966 with the birth of a death squad created, and directly supervised, by U.S. security advisors." An upsurge in rebel activity in Guatemala convinced the US to provide increased counterinsurgency assistance to Guatemala's security apparatus in the mid to late 1960s. Documents released in 1999 details how United States military and police advisers had encouraged and assisted Guatemalan military officials in the use of repressive techniques, including helping establish a "safe house" from within the presidential palace as a location to coordinate "death squad" activities. In 1981, it was reported that this same "safe house" was in use by Guatemalan security officials to coordinate counterinsurgency activities.

Cambodia



The Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

 began employing death squads to purge Cambodia of non-communists after taking over the country in 1975 . They rounded up their victims, questioned them and then took them out to killing fields. The rebels, led by Bun Yom, rescued many thousands of Cambodian people. The rebels also captured thousands of Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

 soldiers, which they traded to the Thai government for food and munitions.

China



Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 made use of the Red Guards
Red Guards (China)
Red Guards were a mass movement of civilians, mostly students and other young people in the People's Republic of China , who were mobilized by Mao Zedong in 1966 and 1967, during the Cultural Revolution.-Origins:...

 to assassinate, imprison, and terrorise millions of suspected political opponents during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 of the 1960s and 1970s.

Vietnam


The South Vietnamese warlords regularly ordered their soldiers to 'punish' the villages if they did something that was undesirable to them.

South Korea


News reports on the use of death squads in Korea originated around the middle of the 20th century such as the Jeju Massacre
Jeju massacre
The Jeju Uprising was a revolt on Jeju island off the south coast of the Korean Peninsula, beginning on April 3, 1948. Between 14,000 and 60,000 individuals were killed in fighting or execution between various fractions on the island...

 and Daejeon. There were also the multiple deaths that made the news in 1980 in Gwangju
Gwangju
Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It is a designated metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government's Home Minister...

.

Thailand


Many extrajudicial killings occurred during the 2003 anti-drug effort of Thailand's prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra is a Thai businessman and politician, who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, when he was overthrown in a military coup....

.

Rumors still persist that there is collusion between the government, rogue military officers and radical right wing/anti-drugs death squads,
http://www.siamexpats.com/forum/index.php?s=3dd9ae62f843b0bb4fe5d64085a8cfdd&showtopic=1922&pid=4126&st=0&entry4126
http://cbrayton.wordpress.com/2007/12/23/thai-coup-and-countercoup-the-corrupt-media-mogul-v-the-crusading-journalist/
http://www.correct.go.th/death.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/rnb//y/squads.htm
http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/2997.html
http://gallery.marihemp.com/akha
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/275/thailandwar.shtml
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/497/thailand_investigations_drug_war_killings_get_underway
with both Muslim and Buddhist sectarian death squads still operating in the South of the country.

Philippines


The New People's Army
New People's Army
The New People's Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. It was formed on March 29, 1969. The Maoist NPA conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of 'protracted people's war'.The NPA exacts so called "revolutionary taxes" from business owners...

 (NPA) groups known as "Sparrow Units" were active in the mid-1980s, killing government officials, police personnel, military members, and anyone else they targeted for elimination. They were also supposedly part of an NPA operation called "Agaw Armas" (Filipino for "Stealing Weapons
– "), where they raided government armories as well as stealing weapons from slain military and police personnel. A low level civil war with south Muslims, Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 sympathizers and communist insurgents has led to a general break down of law and order
Law and order (politics)
In politics, law and order refers to demands for a strict criminal justice system, especially in relation to violent and property crime, through harsher criminal penalties...

. The Philippines government has promised to curb the killings, but is itself implicated in many of the killings.

United States of America


After the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 carried out lynching
Lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

s of African-Americans. This was often with the unofficial support of some local and state level leaders in the American south. In the introduction to "Death Squads in Global Perspective: Murder With Deniability," author Bruce B. Campbell describes the KKK as "one of the first proto-death squads," which "conducted death-squad-like killings and other terrorist acts against recently freed black slaves, “carpetbagger
Carpetbagger
Carpetbaggers was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877....

s,” and those thought to collaborate too closely with the agents of the victorious federal government engaged in “reconstructing” the recently rebellious South." Campbell notes the difference with modern death-squads was that the Ku Klux Klan was associated with elements of a defeated state rather than the ruling governmental entity. "Otherwise, in its murderous intent, links to private elite interests, and covert nature, it very closely resembles modern death squads.”

A Salon.com post by Greg Grandin
Greg Grandin
Greg Grandin is an American historian, and professor of history at New York University. He is author of a number of books, including Fordlândia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History, as well as for the National Book Award...

 accuses United States of being responsible for training and setting up death squads in South and Central American countries. The School of the Americas, run by the US Army in Georgia has been accused by various critics of the US of having trained "500 of the worst human rights abusers in the hemisphere" The CIA was accused of making extensive use of death squads in the Phoenix Program
Phoenix Program
The Phoenix Program |phoenix]]) was a controversial counterinsurgency program designed, coordinated, and executed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency , United States special operations forces, and the Republic of Vietnam's security apparatus during the Vietnam War that operated...

 during the Vietnam War. It is estimated that as many as 19,000 alleged Viet Cong were killed during this program.

Mexico



During the 1920s and 1930s, the PRI regime of President Plutarco Calles used death squads against Mexico's large number of Roman Catholics. The most infamous of these organizations were the Red Shirts (Mexico)
Red Shirts (Mexico)
The Red Shirts were a paramilitary organization, existing in the 1930s, founded by the virulently anti-Catholic, atheist and anticlerical Governor of Tabasco, Mexico, Tomás Garrido Canabal during his second term. As part of their attempt to destroy the Church, they systematically destroyed...

, which reported directly to the governor of Tabasco
Tabasco
Tabasco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Tabasco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 17 municipalities and its capital city is Villahermosa....

, Tomás Garrido Canabal
Tomás Garrido Canabal
Tomás Garrido Canabal , was a Mexican politician and revolutionary. Garrido Canabal served as dictator and governor of the state of Tabasco from 1920 to 1924 and again from 1931 to 1934, and was particularly noted for his anti-Catholic persecution...

. The most famous victim of the era's death squad violence
Saints of the Cristero War
On May 21, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of 25 saints and martyrs arising from the Mexican Cristero War. The vast majority are Roman Catholic priests who were executed for carrying out their ministry despite the suppression under the anti-clerical laws of Plutarco Elías Calles. Priests...

 was the Jesuit priest Father Miguel Pro
Miguel Pro
Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez , also known as Blessed Miguel Pro, was a Mexican Jesuit priest, executed without trial during the persecution of the Catholic Church under the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles after trumped up charges of involvement in an assassination attempt against former President...

.

In 1968 the Mexican Army killed hundreds of people in the Tlatelolco massacre
Tlatelolco massacre
The Tlatelolco massacre, also known as The Night of Tlatelolco , was a government massacre of student and civilian protesters and bystanders that took place during the afternoon and night of October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City...

. Through the 1970s and 1980s death squads were used against students, leftists, and activists. One of these squads was the Brigada Blanca. In 1997 about forty-five people were killed by a death squad in Chenalho.

Germany


Beginning in 1919, the government of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 sanctioned the formation of paramilitary Freikorps
Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

 units in order to prevent a takeover by Soviet-backed German Communists. Although supposedly under the control of Defense Minister Gustav Noske
Gustav Noske
Gustav Noske was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany . He served as the first Minister of Defence of Germany between 1919 and 1920.-Biography:...

, the Freikorps tended to be drunken, trigger happy, and loyal only to their own commanders. However, they were instrumental in the defeat of the 1919 Spartacist Uprising
Spartacist uprising
The Spartacist Uprising , also known as the January uprising , was a general strike in Germany from January 5 to January 15, 1919. Its suppression marked the end of the German Revolution...

 and the annexation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic
Bavarian Soviet Republic
The Bavarian Soviet Republic, also known as the Munich Soviet Republic was, as part of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the short-lived attempt to establish a socialist state in form of a council republic in the Free State of Bavaria. It sought independence from the also recently proclaimed...

. The most famous victims of the Freikorps were of Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
was a German socialist and a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919...

 and Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

, who were captured after the Spartacist Uprising and shot without trial. After the Freikorps units turned against the Republic in the monarchist Kapp Putsch
Kapp Putsch
The Kapp Putsch — or more accurately the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch — was a 1920 coup attempt during the German Revolution of 1918–1919 aimed at overthrowing the Weimar Republic...

, many of the leaders were forced to flee abroad and the units were largely disbanded.

Some Freikorps veterans drifted into the ultra-nationalist Organisation Consul
Organisation Consul
Organisation Consul was an ultra-nationalist force operating in Germany in 1921 and 1922. It was formed by members of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt, a Freikorps unit which disbanded after the Kapp Putsch failed to overthrow the German Weimar Republic...

, which regarded the Versailles Treaty as treasonous and targeted politicians associated with it for assassination. The most famous victims of O.C. were Matthias Erzberger
Matthias Erzberger
Matthias Erzberger was a German politician. Prominent in the Centre Party, he spoke out against the First World War from 1917 and eventually signed the Armistice with Germany for the German Empire...

 and Walter Rathenau, both of whom were cabinet ministers in the Weimar regime.

In addition, the city of Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 also remained a headquarters of Russian White émigré
White Emigre
A white émigré was a Russian who emigrated from Russia in the wake of the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War, and who was in opposition to the contemporary Russian political climate....

 hit teams, which targeted those believed to have betrayed the Tsar. Their most infamous operation remains the 1922 attempt on the life of Provisional Government statesman Pavel Miliukov in Berlin. When newspaper publisher Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov
Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov
Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov was a Russian criminologist, journalist, and progressive statesman during the last years of the Russian Empire. He was the father of Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov.- Life :Nabokov was born in Tsarskoe Selo, into a wealthy and aristocratic family...

 attempted to shield the intended victim, he was fatally shot by assassin Piotr Shabelsky-Bork
Piotr Shabelsky-Bork
Piotr Nikolaevich Shabelsky-Bork was a Russian officer active in anti-Semitic politics, who became a member of a Russian Nazi movement. He is best known for his 1922 murder of Vladimir Nabokov, father of the Russian-American novelist of the same name.Shabelsky-Bork was born in Kislovodsk to a...

.

During the same era, the Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 also operated assassination squads of their own. Titled, the Rotfrontkämpferbund
Rotfrontkämpferbund
Rotfrontkämpferbund was a paramilitary organization of the Communist Party of Germany created on 18 July 1924 during the Weimar Republic. Its first leader was Ernst Thälmann...

 they carried out assassinations of carefully selected individuals from the Weimar regime as well as rival political parties. The most infamous operation of Weimar-era Communist death squads remains the 1931 slayings of Berlin police Captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck. Those involved in the ambush either fled to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 or were arrested and prosecuted. Among those to receive the death penalty was Max Matern
Max Matern
Max Matern was a member of the Communist Party of Germany .Max Matern was a communist storm trooper who was convicted of murder and executed for his involvement in the assassinations of Police Captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck. The murders took place in 1931 at Bülow-Platz in Berlin...

, who was later glorified as a martyr by the East German State. The last surviving conspirator, former East German secret police head Erich Mielke
Erich Mielke
Erich Fritz Emil Mielke was a German communist politician and Minister of State Security—and as such head of the Stasi —of the German Democratic Republic between 1957 and 1989. Mielke spent more than a decade as an operative of the NKVD during the rule of Joseph Stalin...

, was belatedly tried and convicted for the murders in 1993. The evidence needed to successfully prosecute him had been found in his personal safe after German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

.

During the 1930s, the dictator of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 made extensive use of death squads, starting with the infamous Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

 and reaching a peak with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 . Following the frontline units, the Nazis brought along four travelling death squads called Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 (Einsatzgruppe-A through D) to hunt down and kill Jews, Communists and other so-called undesirables in the occupied areas. This was the first of the massacres that made up the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. Typically, the victims, who included many women and children, were forcibly marched from their homes to open graves or ravines before being shot. Many others suffocated in specially designed poison trucks called gas van
Gas van
The gas van or gas wagon was an extermination method devised by Nazi Germany to kill victims of the regime. It was also rumored that analog of such device was used by the Soviet Union on an experimental basis during the Great Purge-Nazi Germany:...

s. Between 1941 and 1944 , the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 killed about 1.2 million Soviet Jews, as well as tens of thousands of suspected political dissidents, most of Polish upper class and intelligentsia, POWs, and uncounted numbers of Romany.

During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, death squads associated with the Libyan embassy in East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 plotted murders of West German and American targets. This was done with the full knowledge of the East German secret police or Stasi
Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

. The Stasi also operated training camps for the Red Army Faction
Red Army Faction
The radicalized were, like many in the New Left, influenced by:* Sociological developments, pressure within the educational system in and outside Europe and the U.S...

. At these camps, R.A.F. members were instructed in the use of military hardware and assisted in planning attacks on West German politicians, cops, union officials, and businessmen.

Ireland


During the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

, Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 mounted a legendary guerrilla campaign. Using a hand picked crew of gunmen who were dubbed "The Twelve Apostles", Collins killed carefully selected officials of the Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

, the Dublin Metropolitan Police
Dublin Metropolitan Police
The Dublin Metropolitan Police was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.-19th century:...

 and British Intelligence. On Bloody Sunday (1920)
Bloody Sunday (1920)
Bloody Sunday was a day of violence in Dublin on 21 November 1920, during the Irish War of Independence. In total, 31 people were killed – fourteen British, fourteen Irish civilians and three republican prisoners....

, Collins' men killed fourteen of the MI5
MI5
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

 agents from the Cairo Gang
Cairo Gang
The Cairo Gang was a group of British Intelligence agents who were sent to Dublin during the Anglo-Irish War to conduct intelligence operations against prominent members of the Irish Republican Army...

. In one incident, the IRA hit team was heard to scream, "May the Lord have mercy on your souls," before opening fire.

That afternoon, a combined force of British security forces shot into the crowd during a Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

 match at Croke Park
Croke Park
Croke Park in Dublin is the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association , Ireland's biggest sporting organisation...

, killing many unarmed civilians. The hostilities ended in 1921 when the British Government negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, which guaranteed the independence of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

.

After independence, the Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 was fought between those IRA veterans who accepted the Treaty and those who considered it unacceptable. Although fought between men who had recently served together against the British, the fighting was often without quarter and brutal atrocities were committed by both sides.

The Anti-Treaty IRA began raising money for their cause via armed robbery of banks and post offices. In the aftermath, several members of the Irish Parliament, or Dail, were assassinated. In the southwest of Ireland, which the Anti-Treaty militants controlled, a number of sectarian killings took place against Protestants. In addition, many historic mansions built by the Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy, mostly belonging to the Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until...

 gentry were deliberately burned. The most infamous operation of Anti-Treaty death squads took place on 22 August 1922, and involved the ambush and sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 slaying of Michael Collins at Beal na mBlath
Béal na mBláth
Béal na mBláth, officially Béal Átha na Bláiche , is a small village in County Cork, Ireland. Both Bláth or Bláiche are variations of the word bláthach, meaning literally "flowery" or "floral", or in this case "buttermilk"....

, County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

. Collins had been travelling to what he believed was a peace conference.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Irish Free State formed a special counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 police, which was called the Criminal Investigation Department
Criminal Investigation Department (Ireland)
The Criminal Investigation Department in the Irish Free State was an armed, plain-clothed counter-insurgency police unit that operated during the Irish Civil War. It was organised separately from the unarmed Civic Guard police force...

. Based in Dublin's Oriel House, the CID were especially despised by the Anti-Treaty IRA, which referred to them as, "The Murder Gang." During the Battle of Dublin (1922), the CID is believed to have summarily shot an estimated 25 Anti-Treaty militants. Utimately, the Irish Free State disbanded CID upon the cessation of hostilities in 1923. (see Executions during the Irish Civil War
Executions during the Irish Civil War
The executions during the Irish Civil War took place during the guerrilla phase of the Irish Civil War . This phase of the war was bitter, and both sides, the government forces of the Irish Free State and the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army insurgents, used executions and terror in what...

).

United Kingdom (UK)


During the Irish war of independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

 in 1916–21, the British Cabinet of David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 organised several assassination squads. Known by their mixture of police and military uniforms, they were dubbed the Black and Tans
Black and Tans
The Black and Tans was one of two newly recruited bodies, composed largely of British World War I veterans, employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary as Temporary Constables from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland...

 and the Auxiliary Division
Auxiliary Division
The Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary , generally known as the Auxiliaries or Auxies, was a paramilitary organization within the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence....

. In 1920 alone the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force
Black and Tans
The Black and Tans was one of two newly recruited bodies, composed largely of British World War I veterans, employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary as Temporary Constables from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland...

 murdered the mayors of Limerick and Cork cities. In Limerick, the replacement mayor was also murdered, while in Cork, the new mayor
Terence MacSwiney
Terence Joseph MacSwiney was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. He was arrested by the British on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton prison in England...

 died after a 74 day hunger strike.

In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, various paramilitary groups and members of the British military and the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

 killed without lawful excuse during The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

. During the 30 years of the The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 in Northern Ireland, both nationalist and loyalist paramilitaries organised assassination squads. Notable cases include Brian Nelson, who was simultaneously an Ulster Defence Association
Ulster Defence Association
The Ulster Defence Association is the largest although not the deadliest loyalist paramilitary and vigilante group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook a campaign of almost twenty-four years during "The Troubles"...

 terrorist and an informant for the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

's Intelligence Corps. In 1992, Nelson pled guilty to a total of 20 charges, including 5 sectarian murders.

Soviet Union


During the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 used the Cheka
Cheka
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

 to murder members of the House of Romanov, the Russian nobility
Russian nobility
The Russian nobility arose in the 14th century and essentially governed Russia until the October Revolution of 1917.The Russian word for nobility, Dvoryanstvo , derives from the Russian word dvor , meaning the Court of a prince or duke and later, of the tsar. A nobleman is called dvoryanin...

, officers of the White Army, Russian Orthodox priests and laity, and officials of the Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

.

During the late Great Purge
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

, the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 government under Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 used death squads in the secret police force, the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

, to hunt down and kill suspected political opponents.

In the post-war period, the Russian Orthodox Church collaborated with the Soviet State in a campaign to eliminate Eastern Rite Catholicism in the newly annexed regions of Soviet-ruled Ukraine. Priests and laity who refused to convert to Orthodoxy were either assassinated or deported to the GULAG
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

s at Karaganda
Karaganda
Karagandy , more commonly known by its Russian name Karaganda, , is the capital of Karagandy Province in Kazakhstan. It is the fourth most populous city in Kazakhstan, behind Almaty , Astana and Shymkent, with a population of 471,800 . In the 1940s up to 70% of the city's inhabitants were ethnic...

. On 27 October 1947, the KGB staged a car accident in order to assassinate the Greek-Catholic Bishop Theodore Romzha
Theodore Romzha
Blessed Theodore Romzha was bishop of the Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Mukacheve from 1944 to 1947. Assassinated by Stalin's NKVD, he was beatified as a martyr by Pope John Paul II on June 27, 2001.-Early life:...

 of Mukachevo. When the "accident" failed to kill the Bishop, the KGB poisoned him in his hospital bed on 1 November 1947.

In addition, a large number of Anti-Communists in the West were also targeted for assassination. Two of the most notable victims were Lev Rebet
Lev Rebet
Lev Rebet was a Ukrainian political writer and anti-communist during World War II. He was a key cabinet member in the Ukrainian government which proclaimed independence on June 30, 1941...

 and Stefan Bandera, Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 nationalists who were assassinated by the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 in Munich, West Germany. Both deaths were believed accidental until the 1961 defection of their murderer, Bohdan Stashynsky
Bohdan Stashynsky
Bohdan Stashynsky is the KGB assassin of Ukrainian nationalist leaders Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera who were killed in the late 1950s.-Early biography :...

.

Russia


The Russian military has been accused of using death squads against Chechen insurgents
Caucasian Front (Chechen War)
The Caucasian Front also called Caucasus Front or the Caucasian Mujahadeen, was formally established in May 2005 as an Islamic structural unit of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria's armed forces by the decree of the separatist President of Chechnya Abdul-Halim Sadulayev during the Second Chechen...

. The prooflink offered discusses insufficient care for refugees and quotes one American politician claiming, among a list of other accusations, that captured insurgents have been known to sometimes "disappear", in what is immediately rebuffed as a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, attempts to shift attention awy from America's human rights violations. However, no organized or centrally approved systematic abuses, much less units or squads formed expressly for the murder of Chechens or command approval for the spontaneous formation of such, are claimed or even suggested by any named source in the article or any description of any given event. The writer does pose a question to the reader about death squads, but without anything to back such a claim up, and only in an attempt to compare Russia's abuses to America's in Iraq.

Spain


Prior to World War II, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 fought a war by proxy during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. There were death squads used by both the Falangists and Republicans during this conflict. Prominent victims of the era's death squad violence include the poet Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico García Lorca
Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca was a Spanish poet, dramatist and theatre director. García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of '27. He is believed to be one of thousands who were summarily shot by anti-communist death squads...

 and journalist Ramiro Ledesma Ramos
Ramiro Ledesma Ramos
Ramiro Ledesma Ramos was a Spanish national syndicalist politician, essayist, and journalist.-Early life:...

.

The Republican death squads were heavily staffed by members of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's OGPU and targeted members of the Catholic clergy and the Spanish nobility
Spanish nobility
Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility according to the laws and traditions of the Spanish monarchy. A system of titles and honours of Spain and of the former kingdoms that constitute it comprise the Spanish nobility...

 for assassination (see Red Terror (Spain)
Red Terror (Spain)
The Red Terror in Spain is the name given by historians to various acts committed "by sections of nearly all the leftist groups" such as the killing of tens of thousands of people , as well as attacks on landowners, industrialists, and politicians, and the...

).

According to author Donald Rayfield
Donald Rayfield
Donald Rayfield is professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary, University of London. He is an author of books about Russian and Georgian literature, and about Joseph Stalin and his secret police...

,
"Stalin, Yezhov
Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov or Ezhov was a senior figure in the NKVD under Joseph Stalin during the period of the Great Purge. His reign is sometimes known as the "Yezhovshchina" , "the Yezhov era", a term that began to be used during the de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s...

, and Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

 distrusted Soviet participants in the Spanish war. Military advisors like Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko
Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko
Vladimir Alexandrovich Antonov-Ovseyenko , real surname Ovseyenko, party aliases the 'Bayonet' and 'Nikita' , a literary pseudonym A. Gal , was a prominent Soviet Bolshevik leader and diplomat. He was born in Chernigov into an officer's family.In 1903, Antonov-Ovseyenko joined the Menshevik party...

, journalists like Koltsov
Mikhail Koltsov
Mikhail Efimovich Koltsov , born Mikhail Efimovich Fridlyand , was a Soviet journalist.-Biography:...

 were open to infection by the heresies, especially Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

's, prevalent among the Republic's supporters. NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 agents sent to Spain were therefore keener on abducting and murdering anti-Stalinists among Republican leaders and International Brigade commanders than on fighting Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

. The defeat of the Republic, in Stalin's eyes, was caused not by the NKVD's diversionary efforts, but by the treachery of the heretics."


The ranks of the Republican assassination squads included Erich Mielke
Erich Mielke
Erich Fritz Emil Mielke was a German communist politician and Minister of State Security—and as such head of the Stasi —of the German Democratic Republic between 1957 and 1989. Mielke spent more than a decade as an operative of the NKVD during the rule of Joseph Stalin...

, the future head of the East German Ministry of State Security
Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

. Walter Janka, a veteran of the Republican forces who remembers him described Mielke's career as follows,
"While I was fighting at the front, shooting at the Fascists, Mielke served in the rear, shooting Trotskyites and Anarchists. "


In the modern era, Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación
Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación
Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación were death squads established illegally by officials of the Spanish government to fight ETA, the principal Basque separatist militant group. They were active from 1983 until 1987, under Spanish Socialist Workers Party -led governments...

 (GAL) terrorist group were death squads illegally set up by officials within the Spanish government to fight ETA
ETA
ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

. They were active from 1983 until 1987, under the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party is a social-democratic political party in Spain. Its political position is Centre-left. The PSOE is the former ruling party of Spain, until beaten in the elections of November 2011 and the second oldest, exceeded only by the Partido Carlista, founded in...

's cabinets.

Yugoslavia



The Srebrenica Massacre
Srebrenica massacre
The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide, refers to the July 1995 killing, during the Bosnian War, of more than 8,000 Bosniaks , mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska under the command of...

, also known as the Srebrenica Genocide, was the July 1995 killing of an estimated 8,000 Bosniak
Bosniaks
The Bosniaks or Bosniacs are a South Slavic ethnic group, living mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a smaller minority also present in other lands of the Balkan Peninsula especially in Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia...

 men and boys, as well as the ethnic cleansing of 25,000–30,000 refugees in the area of Srebrenica
Srebrenica
Srebrenica is a town and municipality in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska. Srebrenica is a small mountain town, its main industry being salt mining and a nearby spa. During the Bosnian War, the town was the site of the July 1995 massacre,...

 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska
Army of Republika Srpska
The Army of Republika Srpska ; Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian Vojska Republike Srpske ) also referred to as the Bosnian Serb Army, was the military of today's Republika Srpska which was then the "Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina", a self-proclaimed state within the internationally recognized...

 (VRS) under the command
Command responsibility
Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes....

 of General Ratko Mladić
Ratko Mladić
Ratko Mladić is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia...

 during the Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

. In addition to the VRS, a paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions
Scorpions (paramilitary)
The Scorpions were a Serbian paramilitary group which actively sought out the extermination of other ethnicities in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The unit was formed in 1991 in what was then the breakaway Republic of Serbian Krajina...

 participated in the massacre.

In Potočari, some of the executions were carried out at night under arc lights, and industrial bulldozers then pushed the bodies into mass graves. According to evidence collected from Bosniaks by French policeman Jean-René Ruez, some were buried alive; he also heard testimony describing Serb forces killing and torturing refugees at will, streets littered with corpses, people committing suicide to avoid having their noses, lips and ears chopped off, and adults being forced to watch the soldiers kill their children.

The Srebrenica massacre is the largest mass murder
Mass murder
Mass murder is the act of murdering a large number of people , typically at the same time or over a relatively short period of time. According to the FBI, mass murder is defined as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders...

 in Europe since World War II. In 2004, in a unanimous ruling on the "Prosecutor v. Krstić" case, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, is a...

 (ICTY) located in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 ruled that the Srebrenica massacre was genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

.

Israel


The Israeli intelligence has systematically targeted certain terrorist members of Palestinian organizations. With the most recent operation being possibly the killing of Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 member Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai in February 2010. Other historical examples include the failed attempt to kill Khalid Mesh'al in Amman, Jordan, in September 1997. The most famous Israeli death squad was formed on the orders of Prime Minister Golda Meir
Golda Meir
Golda Meir ; May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978) was a teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister of the State of Israel....

 in retaliation for the 1972 Munich Massacre
Munich massacre
The Munich massacre is an informal name for events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in southern West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Members of Black September...

. In the aftermath, the squad toured the world killing members of Black September
Black September (group)
The Black September Organization was a Palestinian paramilitary group, founded in 1970. It was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes and officials, and fatal shooting of a West German policeman, during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, their most publicized event...

 and the Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 (PLO) as part of Operation Wrath of God
Operation Wrath of God
Operation Wrath of God ,This title was an invention of later writers, and was most likely not used by the Mossad itself. also called Operation Bayonet, was a covert operation directed by Israel and the Mossad to assassinate individuals alleged to have been directly or indirectly involved in the...

. This was depicted in the films Sword of Gideon
Sword of Gideon
Sword of Gideon is a 1986 television film about Mossad agents hunting down terrorists associated with the 1972 Munich massacre. It was first shown on the CTV network in Canada as a four hour miniseries and later on the HBO television network. Directed by Michael Anderson and written by Chris...

and Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

's Munich (film)
Munich (film)
Munich is a 2005 historical fiction film about the Israeli government's secret retaliation attacks after the massacre of Israeli athletes by the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Summer Olympics. The film stars Eric Bana and was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg...

.

On 14 December 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

 ruled that targeted killing
Targeted killing
Targeted killing is the deliberate, specific targeting and killing, by a government or its agents, of a supposed terrorist or of a supposed "unlawful combatant" who is not in that government's custody...

 is a legitimate form of self-defense against terrorists, and outlined several conditions for its use.

Iran



Under the reign of by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 (1941–1979) the SAVAK
SAVAK
SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah on the recommendation of the British Government and with the help of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency SAVAK (Persian: ساواک, short for سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور...

 (Security and Intelligence Service) was founded. During the 1960s and 1970s it has been accused of using death squads . After the Islamic Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 overthrew the Shah, Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 continued to complain of human rights abuses in Iran. Suspected foes of the Ayatollah Khomeini, were imprisoned, tortured, tried by kangaroo court
Kangaroo court
A kangaroo court is "a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted".The outcome of a trial by kangaroo court is essentially determined in advance, usually for the purpose of ensuring conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or...

s, and executed. The most famous victim of the era's death squad violence remains Amir-Abbas Hoveida, Prime Minister of Iran under the Shah. However, the same treatment was also meted out to senior officers in the Iranian military.

Among them were "death squads" in the form of killings of civilians by government agents that were denied by the government. This was particularly the case during the 1990s when more than 80 writers, translators, poets, political activists, and ordinary citizens who had been critical of the government in some way, disappeared or were found murdered
Chain murders of Iran
The Chain Murders of Iran , or Serial Murders, were a series of murders and disappearances from 1988-1998 by Iranian government operatives of Iranian dissident intellectuals who had been critical of the Islamic Republic system in some way.The victims included more than 80 writers, translators,...

. In 1983 the American Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) gave one of the leaders of Iran Khomeini information on Communist KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 agents in Iran. This information was almost certainly used. The Iranian regime later used death squads occasionally throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s however by the 2000s it has appeared to almost entirely if not all cease their operation. This partial Westernization
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

 of the country can be seen paralleling similar events in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, and Northern Iraq beginning in the late 1990s.

Iraq


Iraq was formed by the British from three provinces of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 following the empire's breakup after World War I. Its population is overwhelming Muslims but divided into Shia and Sunni Arabs and with a substantial Kurdish minority in the north. The new state leadership in the capital of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 was composed mostly of the old Sunni Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 elite although this ethnic group was a minority.

This leadership used death squads and committed massacres in Iraq throughout the 20th century, culminating in the dictatorship of Saddam Hussien.

After Saddam was overthrown by the UK-US invasion in 2003 the secular socialist Baathist leadership were replaced with a provisional and later constitutional government that included leadership roles for the Shia and Kurdish. This paralleled the development of ethnic militias by the Shia, Sunni, and the Kurdish Peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

.

During the course of the Iraq War the country has increasingly become divided into three zones: a Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 ethnic zone to the north, a Sunni center and the Shia ethnic zone to the south.

While all three groups have operated death squads,
in the national capital of Baghdad some members of the now Shia police department and army formed unofficial, unsanctioned, but long tolerated death squads. They possibly have links to the Interior Ministry and are popularly known as the 'black crows'. These groups operated night or day. They usually arrested people, then either tortured or killed them.

The victims of these attacks were predominantly young males who had probably been suspected of being members of the Sunni insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

. Agitators such as Abdul Razaq al-Na’as, Dr. Abdullateef al-Mayah, and Dr. Wissam Al-Hashimi have also been killed. Women and children have also been arrested and or killed. Some of these killings have also been simple robberies or other criminal activities.

A feature in a May 2005 issue of the magazine of The New York Times accused the U.S. military of modelling the "Wolf Brigade", the Iraqi interior ministry police commandos, on the death squads used in the 1980s to crush the Marxist insurgency in El Salvador.

Western news organizations such as Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 and People
People (magazine)
In 1998, the magazine introduced a version targeted at teens called Teen People. However, on July 27, 2006, the company announced it would shut down publication of Teen People immediately. The last issue to be released was scheduled for September 2006. Subscribers to this magazine received...

 disassembled this by focusing on the aspects such as probable militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 membership, religious ethnicity, as well as uniforms worn by these squads rather than stating the United States backed Iraqi government had death squads active in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Iraq has also suffered badly since the post-invasion insurgency of 2005. Iraq was formed by British partitioning and domination of various tribal land in the early 20th century. The British later departed. They left behind a national government led from Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 that was mostly made up of Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 ethnicity in key positions of power that ruled over an ad-hoc nation splintered by tribal affiliations. This leadership used death squads and committed massacres in Iraq throughout the 20th century, culminating in the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

The country has since become increasingly partitioned following the Iraq War into three zones: a Kurdish ethnic zone
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

 to the north, a Sunni center and the Shia ethnic zone to the south, with the secular Arab socialist
Arab socialism
Arab socialism is a political ideology based on an amalgamation of Pan-Arabism and socialism. Arab socialism is distinct from the much broader tradition of socialist thought in the Arab world, which predates Arab socialism by as much as fifty years...

 Baathist leadership were replaced with a provisional and later constitutional government that included leadership roles for the Shia and Kurdish peoples of this nation.

There were death squads formed by members of every ethnicity. In the national capital of Baghdad some members of the now Shia police department and army formed unofficial, unsanctioned, but long tolerated death squads. They possibly have links to the Interior Ministry and are popularly known as the 'black crows'. These groups operated night or day. They usually arrested people, then either tortured or killed them.

The victims of these attacks were predominantly young males who had probably been suspected of being members of the Sunni insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

. Agitators such as Abdul Razaq al-Na'as, Dr. Abdullateef al-Mayah, and Dr. Wissam Al-Hashimi have also been killed. These killings are not limited to only men. Women and children have at times have also been arrested and or killed. Some of these killings have also been simple robberies or other criminal activities.

Lebanon


Death squads were active during the civil war
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

 from 1975 to 1990. The number of the disappeared is put around 17,000.

Ivory Coast


Death squads are reported as active in this country.

This has been condemned by the US but appears to be difficult to stop. Moreover there is no proof as to whom is behind the killings

In an interview to the panafrican magazine "Jeune Afrique", Laurent Gbagbo
Laurent Gbagbo
Laurent Koudou Gbagbo served as the fourth President of Côte d'Ivoire from 2000 until his arrest in April 2011. A historian by profession, he is also an amateur chemist and physicist....

 accused one of the opposition leaders, Allasane Ouattara (ADO), to be the main organizer of the media frenzy around his wife's involvement in the killing squads. He also successfully sued and won, in French courts, in cases against the French newspapers that made the accusations.

Human rights groups


Many human rights organisations like Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 along with the UN are campaigning against extrajudicial punishment .

Extrajudicial Killings Summit


The 22nd PUNO Supreme Court is set to hold a National Consultative Summit on extrajudicial killings on 16 and 17 July 2007 at the Manila Hotel
Manila Hotel
The Manila Hotel is a 570-room, five star hotel in Manila, Philippines, located in the heart of the Manila Bay area. The Manila Hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines, built in 1909 to rival Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines, and opened in...

. Invited representatives from the three branches of the government will participate (including the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Armed Forces of the Philippines
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is composed of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force...

, the PNP
Philippine National Police
The Philippine National Police is the national police force of the Republic of the Philippines. It is both a national and a local police force in that it does provides all law enforcement services throughout the Philippines...

, CHR
Commission on Human Rights (Philippines)
The Commission on Human Rights is an independent office created by the Constitution of the Philippines, with the primary function of investigating all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights in the Philippines....

, media, academe, civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

 and other stakeholders).
  • Puno will give the keynote speech and closing remarks. Puno searches for major solutions to solve forced disappearances.
  • During the first day of the summit, the speakers will present their respective papers comprising significant inputs from their respective sectors, while on the second day, the participants will break out into 12 groups (chaired by a Justice) and take part in a workshop. Local and international observers (the diplomatic corps and representatives from various international organizations) will be accredited.
  • Puno announced that "the summit highlight will be a plenary session where each of the 12 groups shall report to the body their recommended resolutions. The reports and proposals will be synthesized and then transmitted to the concerned government agencies for appropriate action."
  • The earlier slated Malacañang-sponsored "Mindanao Peace and Security Summit (8–10 July 2007 at Cagayan de Oro City), focussed on how to make the anti-terror law, or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, more acceptable to the public.
  • On 16 July 2007, Justices, activists, militant leaders, police officials, politicians and prelates attended the Supreme Court's two-day summit at the Manila Hotel in Manila City to map out ways to put an end to the string of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. Bayan was set to launch their "silent protest", but expressed support for the high court's initiative. Director Geary Barias, chief of the police's anti-killings Task Force Usig, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, re-elected party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis) attended. Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno said that the "National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Forced Disappearances: Searching for Solutions," would help stop the murders. Delegates were given 12 to 15 minutes each to share their insights and knowledge about the matter. Yniguez accused the government of failing to actively pursue investigations on the hundreds of killings and the Catholic Church was alarmed that victims have been denied their "fundamental right" to live.
  • Based on Yniguez-church's count, the number of victims of extrajudicial killings has reached 778, while survivors of "political assassinations," was pegged at 370. He also noted 203 "massacre" victims, 186 people who involuntarily disappeared, 502 tortured, and others who were illegally arrested. Yniguez similarly criticized the government's alleged insistence on implementing its Oplan Bantay Laya I and II (the military's counter-insurgency operation plans which militants have said consider legal people's organizations as targets).
  • Meanwhile, Bayan urged the Supreme Court
    Supreme Court of the Philippines
    The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the Philippines' highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice...

     to "check serious threats to civil liberties and basic freedoms" including the anti-terror law or the Human Security Act of 2007, which took effect on 15 July despite protests from leftist groups.
  • Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. will join Bayan and other leftist groups as petitioners in their formal pleading before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the law. Human rights lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) will serve as lead counsel. Bayan chair Carol Araullo said the respondents will include members of the Anti-Terrorism Council headed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Raul Gonzalez. Earlier, [CBCP president Angel Lagdameo] pointed out at least 5 provisions of the law that may threaten civil liberties: Sec. 19 allows detentions of mere suspects for more than three days in the event of an actual or terrorist attack, while Section 26 allows house arrest despite the posting of bail, and prohibits the right to travel and to communicate with others; Sec. 39 allows seizure of assets while Sec. 7 allows surveillance and wiretapping of suspects; Sec. 26 allows the investigation of bank deposits and other assets.

See also


  • Extrajudicial punishment
    Extrajudicial punishment
    Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

  • Extrajudicial killing
  • Arbitrary arrest and detention
    Arbitrary arrest and detention
    Arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention are the arrest or detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that they committed a crime against legal statute, or in which there has been no proper due process of law...

  • Assassination
  • Lynching
    Lynching
    Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

  • Outlaw
    Outlaw
    In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

  • Selective assassination
  • Summary execution
    Summary execution
    A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

  • Summary justice
    Summary justice
    Summary justice refers to the trial and punishment of suspected offenders without recourse to a more formal and protracted trial under the legal system...

  • Vigilante
    Vigilante
    A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker....

  • Manhunt (military)
    Manhunt (military)
    Manhunting is the deliberate identification, capturing, or killing of senior or otherwise important enemy combatants, classified as high-value targets, usually by special operations forces and intelligence organizations...

  • Midnight Man (TV serial)
    Midnight Man (TV serial)
    Midnight Man is a 2008 British television serial produced by Carnival Films for the ITV network. The three-part serial stars James Nesbitt as Max Raban, a former investigative journalist who discovers an international conspiracy involving government policy groups and death squads...



Agencies:
  • DINA
  • DIM
    Dirección de Inteligencia Militar
    The Dirección de Inteligencia Militar was the military intelligence agency of Venezuela.According to the New York Times, as of June 3, 2008, DIM has been replaced with a new agency, the General Counterintelligence Office.-See also:...

  • SNI
    National Intelligence Service of Brazil
    The Serviço Nacional de Informações, or SNI of Brazil was an intelligence agency formed by the Castelo Branco government in 1964. SNI was disbanded for a time and later resumed operations under the name Agência Brasileira de Inteligência.-History:Originally, the SNI was a civilian agency under the...

  • SIDE
    Secretaría de Inteligencia
    Secretaría de Inteligencia is the premier intelligence agency of the Argentine Republic and head of its National Intelligence System....

  • ZOMO
    ZOMO
    Zmotoryzowane Odwody Milicji Obywatelskiej , were paramilitary-police formations during the Communist Era, in the People's Republic of Poland...

  • Securitate
    Securitate
    The Securitate was the secret police agency of Communist Romania. Previously, the Romanian secret police was called Siguranţa Statului. Founded on August 30, 1948, with help from the Soviet NKVD, the Securitate was abolished in December 1989, shortly after President Nicolae Ceaușescu was...

  • Stazi
  • KGB
    KGB
    The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

  • PIDE
    PIDE
    In 1969, Marcello Caetano changed the name PIDE to DGS . The death of Salazar and the subsequent ascension of Caetano brought some attempts at democratization, in order to avoid popular insurgency against censorship, the ongoing colonial war and the general restriction of civil rights...

  • Operation Condor
    Operation Condor
    Operation Condor , was a campaign of political repression involving assassination and intelligence operations officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America...


External links