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Drug craze is fuelling murder on streets of Iraqi capital

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Barrett808 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 10:52 AM
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Drug craze is fuelling murder on streets of Iraqi capital
Zala and his friends live in the gardens of Baghdad. They hang around the banks of the Tigris to beg and steal. Last week Ala and his friends fished a bloated corpse out of the river and handed it to the police, hoping to get some money. Mainly, though, Ala and his gang do drugs.

When I meet them one morning at 10am they already stink of 'tannar' - the paint thinners and glue that they sniff in bags. A small medicine bottle costs 1,000 dinars (60p). The only girl in Ala's gang, a skinny, filthy child probably in her early teens, is clasping a full bottle. What they really like, when they can get it, is 'capsils'. They list the pills you can buy on the streets, especially by the Babb al Sharq, the Eastern Gate: 'pinks' and 'Lebanese', 'eyebrows' and 'crosses', 'reds' and 'Syrians'. Most of all, what these children like is a drug they call Artane, Baghdad's most popular intoxicant.

Its proper name is benzhexol. It is an anticolinergic, used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and to counter the effect of anti-psychotic treatments. A sheet purchased from a private pharmacy will cost 1,000 dinars. For street kids like Ala, who buy them individually from the drug dealers, it costs a little more.

Taken in large doses, and dissolved in alcohol to speed the effect, Artane causes symptoms of euphoria, impulsive behaviour, easy provocation - and sometimes vivid hallucinations. Most importantly of all for the car-jackers, gunmen, bandits and muggers of Iraq, it removes your sense of fear.

Ala is about 20 years old and leads a gang of 10- to 15-year-olds. He was released from Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison under Saddam Hussein's general amnesty of prisoners. I ask him what he likes about Artane. His eyes spaced and filmy, Ala replies: 'It makes you feel more brave. It makes you want to attack people. It makes you more aggressive.'

And it is this drug that is fuelling a city-wide crime wave. Eighty per cent of criminals being picked up by the fledgling Iraqi Police Service, according to senior policemen, appear to be under the influence of drugs. In Baghdad, referrals to the city's clinic for drug abuses have doubled in the last few months. Artane is Baghdad's favourite drug.

(more)

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,69...
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StClone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 10:57 AM
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1. Nothing spared but death
Thanks BushCo.
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bahrbearian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 12:57 PM
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2. Another reason to be there ,the War on Drugs.
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MsLeopard Donating Member (717 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 02:53 PM
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3. Unbelieveable
We call this liberation? A better life for the Iraqi people? Typical BushCo logic -- war is peace, ignorance is strength, crime is security. Are they throwing flowers at us yet?
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loudnclear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 03:03 PM
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4. Wherever our soldiers go they leave a trail of devastation, disease, drugs
I think we have only added to the hardships of the Iraqi people. We certainly have killed as many as Saddam through either our sanctions or our weapons.
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