After al-Qaeda Expansion, Iraq’s Infamous Abu Ghraib Finally Closes

Justice Minister Announces 'Complete Closure' of Site

The notorious Abu Ghraib prison, used for torture by both the Saddam Hussein-era government and the US military occupation, has survived a lot of controversy, but today shut its doors.

Ironically, it wasn’t anything to do with the prison itself that finally forced the closure, but the city of Abu Ghraib, which fell last week to an offensive by al-Qaeda of Iraq (AQI).

With AQI controlling the city, and apparently intending to use it as a staging area for attacks deeper into the Baghdad Governate, the Justice Ministry announced Abu Ghraib prison has been evacuated and closed for “security reasons.” They later insisted they intend the closure as temporary, pending retaking the area.

2,400 inmates were still being held at Abu Ghraib before the closure, and have been transferred to unnamed prisons in Iraq’s north. AQI has been increasing its holdings in the Anbar Province, and Abu Ghraib, on the border of Anbar and Baghdad and on the main highway, is now an important strategic point, as opposed to a dumping ground for prisoners.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of