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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to email@example.com Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. Mercenaries in Iraq (k hanly) --__--__-- Message: 1 From: "k hanly" <khanly@DELETETHISmb.sympatico.ca> To: "newsclippings" <email@example.com> Subject: Mercenaries in Iraq Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 13:53:49 -0500 Vancouver Sun May 11, 2004 Americans have outsourced their Iraq dirty work to a mixed bunch By Jonathan Manthorpe A brief news story from Iraq on Sunday night said a bomb had exploded near a hotel bar in Baghdad "wounding six British and Nepalese." One does not have to have spent much time in the world's trouble spots to know that when one comes across Nepalese in such places one is not talking about ordinary people from the mountain kingdom of Nepal. One is talking about members past or present of the Brigade of Gurkhas, which for nearly 200 years has formed perhaps the most feared and effective infantry unit in the British army. Retired members of the brigade are much sought after by private security companies. Former Gurkhas can be found doing everything from providing protection for United Nations compounds in Angola to guarding against robberies in banks in Hong Kong. No wonder, then, Gurkhas are also in Iraq where the inability of coalition forces to establish security has put a premium on what are officially called "security consultants" but whom many simply call "mercenaries." To an astonishing degree, the United States-led forces in Iraq have out-sourced security in the country. There are about 15,000 mercenaries in Iraq and they constitute the third largest armed force in the country after the American and British military contingents. They are a very mixed bunch ranging from the Gurkhas at the top end to known war criminals from South Africa and the Balkans at the other. In between are people who do indeed have the military experience set out on their CVs. But many others are pure fantasists playing out their Walter Mitty dreams and getting paid up to $1,200 Cdn a day for doing it. The loud sucking noise of fortunes to be made in Iraq's outsourced war is causing all kinds of turmoil. Britain's elite Special Air Service and Special Boat Service, the most desired record on a mercenary's CV, recently sent a message to former members asking them to please stop recruiting current members. About one in six members of the SAS and the SBS have recently asked permission to quit their jobs and the British government is getting peeved because they cost about $4 million Cdn each to train. In South Africa, President Thabo Mbeke has lost about half his 100-strong personal security service to the lure of Iraq gold. It was in South Africa earlier this year that the dubious background of many of the mercenaries flocking to Iraq first appeared. On Jan. 28, a suicide bomber hit Baghdad's Saheen Hotel. The bomb killed four people and wounded scores of others. One of the killed was a South African named Frans Strydom. Among the wounded was Deon Gouws. Both men were working for a British-based company, Erinys International, which has an $80-million US contract to protect Iraqi oil installations. The conglomerate which hired it includes Haliburton, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's former company. Erinys also has strong connections to Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress whose dubious intelligence information did much to persuade the White House that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But let's come back to Strydom and Gouws. Both men were granted amnesties by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after confessing to killing blacks during the days of apartheid. Strydom was a leading member of Koevoet, the Afrikaans for "Crowbar," a death squad maintained at arm's length by the white South African government to kill black activists both at home and in Namibia. Gouws was a member of another apartheid death squad called Vlakplaas. When he appeared before the reconciliation commission, Gouws asked for absolution for killing 15 blacks and firebombing the homes of up to 60 anti-apartheid militants. Last month, another South African death squad member, Gray Branfield, originally a Rhodesian police inspector, was killed in Iraq. In the South African army, Branfield was in charge of death squad operations in neighbouring Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. These three are among 1,500 South Africans, most of them white remnants of the apartheid regime, working for security companies in Iraq. Not all the mercenaries in Iraq are undesirables and not all the dubious characters are South Africans. Shortly before the American-led invasion last year, Saddam Hussein hired a dozen Serb air-defence specialists, some of whom are wanted in Europe for their paramilitary activities during the Balkan wars. The arrival of the U.S. forces did not trouble the Serbs, some of whom have now signed on with American security companies for large salaries. How many contract employees and security guards have been killed in Iraq is unclear. Haliburton says 34 of its employees have been killed in the region. This situation is chaotic enough. It borders on the sinister with the evidence from Abu Ghraib prison that the military police conducted their much-photographed torture under the directions from CIA officers and "interrogation specialists from private defence contractors." Questions that need answering are who these freelance torturers are and where they come from. firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=d8bdf581-b1c 0-4541-9550-81849ea419b8 End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk