A rising wave of anti-gay sentiment continues to engulf the Iraqi city of Baghdad. The AFP is reporting that a previously unknown anti-gay group bent on killing gays has launched a new campaign of terror.

The group, called Brigades of the Righteous, has posted signs around the Baghdad slum of Sadr City naming alleged gays and threatening to kill them

“We will punish you, perverts,” the posters say. Those on the list have reportedly gone into hiding.

Earlier this month, an Iraqi police official said as many as six gay men had been killed after religious clerics condemned being gay. Shiite cleric Sattar al-Battat has repeatedly condemned being gay during prayers, saying Islam prohibits it.

The Reuters news agency reported that the men were discovered dead, each marked “pervert” on their chests.

Men who adopt the more Western values of short hair and a clean-shaven face are often accused of being gay in the Middle East.

“This [homosexuality] has spread because of the absence of the Mehdi Army, the spread of sexual films and satellite television and a lack of government surveillance,” the office's of Sheikh Ibrahim al-Gharawi, a Shiite cleric, told the news agency.

Ali Hili, of Iraqi LGBT, gave gay weekly Gay City News a grim assessment of the situation. According to Hili, the group has confirmed more than 23 murders of gay people in Iraq since December.

Openly gay Congressman Jared Polis, who recently toured Iraq, has called upon the State Department to act.

“We asked the embassy and the State Department to investigate the reports of killings of gay men, and turned over to the charge d'affaires the names and phone numbers of all the gay Iraqi contacts we had and a letter detailing our concerns,” Polis said.

Polis told the paper that the letter included allegations that the Iraqi government was involved in the killings.

“There is an intensive media campaign against homosexuals in Iraq at this time which we believe is inspired by the Ministry of the Interior, both in the daily newspapers and on nearly all the television stations,” Hili said. “Their reports brand all gays as 'perverts' and try to portray us as terrorists who are undermining the moral fiber of Iraqi youth.”