Iraqi ?rape? pictures ?made-to-order?
In a spectacular cultural own-goal, material culled from American-backed porn websites has been co-opted and used as ?black propaganda? by anti-war groups.
Disturbing photographs of rape and sexual torture, circulated widely among the online Islamic community as ?evidence? of abuse by the US military in Iraq, have in fact been lifted from extreme porn websites.

Pictures ostensibly showing Iraqi women raped by US soldiers were posted on at least two Arabic news websites;; and a Tunisian website produced in France by the Committee for the Defence of Saddam Hussein [Comit? de D?fence de Saddam Hussein En Tunisie).

Last year, a similar sequence of photographs, depicting a group of prisoners held at gun-point, found its way into the hands of Islamic groups in the UK, who in turn passed them to activists in Iraqi opposition groups.

The sequence included pictures of one young woman, wearing a traditional Shia dress, separated from the group and sexually humiliated and raped by the ?soldiers? at gunpoint.

Some of these pictures were also published on the website ?Jihad Unspun?. On the basis of these pictures, in September 2003, its Editor-in-Chief, Bruce Kennedy, wrote an article entitled ?Are US Soldiers Raping Iraqi Women?? which was widely disseminated throughout the Internet.

At the time Kennedy said: ?The photographs are not computer generated and at first pass appear to be authentic, however we are investigating the matter further. It is not known when they were taken.?

It is now apparent that some if not all the pictures originated from two extreme porn sites specializing in violent scenes of rape of Iraqi women by military personnel.

One of the websites, registered to an American company, Macnew Enterprises, of Hop Bottom, Pennsylvania, has since closed down.

The other is registered to Activ Studio KTF, of Budapest, Hungary, and is also accessible through a 'portal' website registered in New York City.

The producer of the film, Andrea Marchand, says: ?I saw that they took some pictures from my website and they completely used them illegally.

?I didn't think when we made it, it would be a big scandal. They are totally fictional movies made only for the Internet. I absolutely didn't want to make anything like propaganda.?

Marchand says the film was made a year ago at a location near Budapest and filmed using Hungarian actors.

"An Australian guy asked me to do this and we made a partnership. He put the money in and afterwards we shared the rights on the film. He used it for a month but his website crashed. Here in Hungary it is totally legal and we are also selling the VHS copy.

"Every model is more than 18 years old. They are actors and they get paid for it. They are not really raped. No one is forced to do anything. It?s just a job.

?We put a lot of sound effects into it so that it looks like the real thing. I asked only for people with an Arabic look to them.?

Marchand markets her films online through a company called ?Buy Film Ready?, which has offices in Paris and in Lausanne, Switzerland.

?We offer movies that we have already made, and if someone wants to do something special we can do it for them if it is legal. If our clients have a fantasy, we realize it for them,? she says.

?Most of my sites are normal hardcore or gay porn. I have another rape site, but it is just rape without the army or anything.

?I know it is very extreme but some people like this kind of pornography. The biggest problem is we have people who need this kind of content. As long as some people are excited by this, and guys exist on the Earth like this, I think we need it. If nobody wanted to see it we wouldn?t do it.?

Marchand may rue the day she was persuaded to make this particular film. However she may take comfort from the fact that her skilful attention to detail as a filmmaker has led so many people to accept the material as ?real?.

The widespread circulation of photographs and films from porn sites has made the business of separating truth from fiction in Iraq somewhat harder.

There is a steady stream of allegations that American troops are using the threat of sexual exploitation of the wives, girlfriends and daughters of detainees to get them to talk.

Bruce Kennedy told
NewsConfidential: ?One set [of photos] we can track to two porn sites but we don?t know whether these are of relatives of detainees that are being forced into these acts. While the porn sites are abusive and should come down, we need to draw the line between relatives of detainees and the porn sites if we are going to really make the case [for abuse] which so far we have not been able to do.?

Marchand comments: ?It is absolutely not a documentary film. I don't understand why they used my pictures, because they have a lot of pictures and they have true pictures, because it is happening there. Nobody knows for sure what has happened there or if US guys really raped girls. I don't say that what we have made is the truth, but nobody can say it is not the truth.?

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