Wednesday, February 20, 2008

US Military - Bombers Didn't Have Downs Syndrome

By Cernig

Well, well. The "Downs Syndrome bombers" story was all just crap after all. The two suicide bombers had mental health problems, yes. Depression and schizophrenia, though, not Downs. That may well suggest they were willing suicide bombers, albeit motivated by their mental illnesses, rather than unwitting dupes, and changes the analysis quite considerably. Not in any way a clever or adaptive response to new US tactics, just picking willing bombers and possibly not even realising why they are willing.
The U.S. military said Wednesday that two women used as suicide bombers in attacks earlier this month had undergone psychiatric treatment but there is no indication they had Down syndrome as Iraqi and U.S. officials initially had claimed.

...Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, the chief Iraqi military commander in Baghdad, said soon after the attacks that photos of the women's heads showed they had Down syndrome, but he did not offer any other proof.

A U.S. military spokesman for the Baghdad area, Lt. Col. Steve Stover, also said at the time that medical experts with his division had examined the photos and agreed the women probably suffered from the genetic disorder. "They were both females and they both looked like they had Down syndrome," Stover said on Feb. 2.
But today, US military spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith backed away from those claims.
"Both had recently received psychiatric treatment for depression and/or schizophrenia. From what we know now there's no indication that they had Down syndrome," Smith said, citing records obtained by the military.

Smith also said one of the women was married but that neither had criminal backgrounds. He said it was not clear how they were linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, which the military has said was behind the bombing.

The director of the Ibn-Rushd psychiatric teaching hospital in central Baghdad, Dr. Shalan al-Abboudi, said that one of the pet market bombers, a 36-year-old married woman, had been treated there for schizophrenia and depression, according to her file. Refusing to identify her, he said she received electric shock therapy and was released into the custody of an aunt.
Electric shock, while it has been shown to help, is never recommended as the first treatment for schizophrenia in the West. It's normally used only when anti-psychotic drugs aren't working. But Iraq as a whole is short on all kinds of drugs and it may well be that ECT is being used first or earlier. I'd hate to think it was being used as a panacea for depression and other mental illnesses, certainly. Especially since the Iraqi government is now rounding up Baghdad's homeless and beggars, to prevent them being used by Al Qaida. They'll be housed in "social welfare institutions and psychiatric hospitals that can provide shelter and care for them, according to the ministry".

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