Killers in the Neighborhood

Exclusive: How the death squads came to Washash and turned Shi'ites and Sunnis against one another

There was a time when Mohammad al-Obaidi didn't worry much about safety. As a barber in Baghdad's gritty working-class Washash neighborhood, al-Obaidi would spend his days styling hair--for Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians, whoever showed up at his World of Haircuts barbershop. Evenings, he would slip off to play soccer with friends. These days, however, as Iraq plunges deeper into civil unrest, al-Obaidi, 27, a stout, personable man who sports a buzz cut, spends much of his time calculating how to stay alive, wondering whether the anonymous killers who now stalk the streets of Washash will come after him, perhaps at his shop...

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