Phony terrorism in Iraq: CAUGHT RED-HANDED


Richard Moore

Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2005 17:40:09 -0400
From: The Wisdom Fund <•••@••.•••>

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September 23, 2005
The Raw Story

British Undercover Operatives in Iraq
By Nafeez Ahmed

[Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is executive director of the Institute
for Policy Research & Development, London. He teaches courses
in political theory, international relations and contemporary
history at the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies,
University of Sussex, Brighton.]

Basra is relatively stable compared to central Iraq where
violence involving insurgents, civilians and coalition forces
is a daily routine. The city has rarely been a site of clashes
between insurgents and coalition troops, nor is it a victim of
regular terrorist attacks. This week, however, things changed,
but not thanks to Zarqawi and his al-Qaeda ilk.

On Monday, two British soldiers were arrested and detained by
Iraqi police in Basra. Within a matter of hours, the British
military responded with overwhelming force, despite subsequent
denials by the Ministry of Defence, which insisted that the
two men had been retrieved solely through "negotiations."

British military officials, including Brigadier John Lorimer,
told BBC News (9/20/05) that the British Army had stormed an
Iraqi police station to locate the detainees. Ministry of
Defence sources confirmed that "British vehicles" had
attempted to "maintain a cordon" outside the police station.

After British Army tanks "flattened the wall" of the station,
UK troops "broke into the police station to confirm the men
were not there" and then "staged a rescue from a house in
Basra", according a commanding officer familiar with the
operation. Both men, British defence sources told the BBC's
Richard Galpin in Baghdad, were "members of the SAS elite
special forces." After their arrest, the soldiers were over to
the local militia.

What had prompted this bizarre turn of events? Why had the
Iraqi police forces, which normally work in close cooperation
with coalition military forces, arrested two British SAS
soldiers, and then handed them over to the local militia? A
review of the initial on-the-ground reports leads to a clearer

Fancy Dress and Big Guns Don't Mix

According to the BBC's Galpin, reporting for BBC Radio 4
(9/20/05, 18 hrs news script), Iraqi police sources in Basra
told the BBC the "two British men were arrested after failing
to stop at a checkpoint. There was an exchange of gunfire. The
men were wearing traditional Arab clothing, and when the
police eventually stopped them, they said they found
explosives and weapons in their carIt's widely believed the
two British servicemen were operating undercover."

Undercover? Dressed as Arabs? What were they trying to do that
had caught the attention of their colleagues, the Iraqi

According to the Washington Post (9/20/05), "Iraqi security
officials on Monday variously accused the two Britons they
detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant
explosives." Reuters (9/19/05) cited police, local officials
and other witnesses who confirmed that "the two undercover
soldiers were arrested after opening fire on Iraqi police who
approached them." Officials said that "the men were wearing
traditional Arab headscarves and sitting in an unmarked car."

According to Mohammed al-Abadi, an official in the Basra
governorate, A policeman approached them and then one of these
guys fired at him. Then the police managed to capture them.

Booby-trapped Brits?

In an interview with Al Jazeerah TV, the popular Iraqi leader
Fattah al-Sheikh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly and
deputy official in the Basra governorate, said that police had
"caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a
car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden
with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the
city of Basra in the popular market." Contrary to British
authorities' claims that the soldiers had been immediately
handed to local militia, al-Sheikh confirmed that they were
"at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held
by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces
are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve
them of the crime."

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment and British Covert

British defence sources told the Scotsman (9/20/05) that the
soldiers were part of an "undercover special forces
detachment" set up this year to "bridge the intelligence void
in Basra, drawing on 'special forces' experience in Northern
Ireland and Aden, where British troops went 'deep' undercover
in local communities to try to break the code of silence
against foreign forces."

These elite forces operate under the Special Reconnaissance
Regiment and were formed last year by then defence secretary,
Geoff Hoon, "to gather human intelligence during
counter-terrorist missions."

The question, of course, is how does firing at Iraqi police
while dressed as Arabs and carrying explosives constitute
"countering terrorism" or even gathering "intelligence"?

The admission by British defence officials is revealing. A
glance at the Special Reconnaissance Regiment gives a more
concrete idea of the sort of operations these two British
soldiers were involved in.

The Regiment, formed recently, is "modelled on an undercover
unit that operated in Northern Ireland" according to Whitehall
sources. The Regiment had "absorbed the 14th Intelligence
Company, known as '14 Int,' a plainclothes unit set up to
gather intelligence covertly on suspect terrorists in Northern
Ireland. Its recruits are trained by the SAS."

This is the same Regiment that was involved in the unlawful
July 22 execution - multiple head-shots - of the innocent
Brazilian, Mr. Jean Charles de Menezes, after he boarded a
tube train in Stockwell Underground station.

According to Detective Sergeant Nicholas Benwell, member of
the Scotland Yard team that had been investigating the
activities of an ultra-secret wing of British military
intelligence, the Force Research Unit (FRU), the team found
that "military intelligence was colluding with terrorists to
help them kill so-called 'legitimate targets' such as active
republicans... many of the victims of these government-backed
hit squads were innocent civilians."

Benwell's revelations were corroborated in detail by British
double agent Kevin Fulton, who was recruited to the FRU in
1981, when he began to infiltrate the ranks of IRA. In his
role as a British FRU agent inside the IRA, he was told by his
military intelligence handlers to "do anything" to win the
confidence of the terrorist group.

"I mixed explosive and I helped develop new types of bombs,"
he told Scotland's Sunday Herald (6/23/02). "I moved weapons
if you ask me if the materials I handled killed anyone, then I
will have to say that some of the things I helped develop did
kill my handlers knew everything I did. I was never told not
to do something that was discussed. How can you pretend to be
a terrorist and not act like one? You can't. Youve got to do
what they do They did a lot of murders I broke the law seven
days a week and my handlers knew that. They knew that I was
making bombs and giving them to other members of the IRA and
they did nothing about it The idea was that the only way to
beat the enemy was to penetrate the enemy and be the enemy."

Most startlingly, Fulton said that his handlers told him his
operations were "sanctioned right at the top this goes the
whole way to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister knows what
you are doing."

Zarqawi, Ba'athists and the Seeds of Discord

So, based on the methodology of their Regiment, the two
British SAS operatives were in Iraq to "penetrate the enemy
and be the enemy," in order of course to "beat the enemy."
Instead of beating the enemy, however, they ended up fomenting
massive chaos and killing innocent people, a familiar pattern
for critical students of the British role in the Northern
Ireland conflict.

In November 2004, a joint statement was released on several
Islamist websites on behalf of al-Qaeda's man in Iraq, Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, and Saddam Hussein's old Ba'ath Party
loyalists. Zarqawis network had "joined other extremist
Islamists and Saddam Hussein's old Baath party to threaten
increased attacks on US-led forces." Zarqawi's group said they
signed "the statement written by the Iraqi Baath party, not
because we support the party or Saddam, but because it
expresses the demands of resistance groups in Iraq."

The statement formalized what had been known for a year
already that, as post-Saddam Iraqi intelligence and US
military officials told the London Times (8/9/2003), "Al Qaeda
terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq from Saudi Arabia and
other Arab countries have formed an alliance with former
intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein to fight their common
enemy, the American forces." Al Qaeda leaders "recruit from
the pool" of Saddam's former "security and intelligence
officers who are unemployed and embittered by their loss of
status." After vetting, "they begin Al-Qaeda-style training,
such as how to make remote-controlled bombs."

Yet Pakistani military sources revealed in February 2005 that
the US has "resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops
and entrenched in the population," consisting of "former
members of the Ba'ath Party" the same people already teamed up
with Zarqawi's al-Qaeda network.

In a highly clandestine operation, the US procured
Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles,
rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and
other light weaponry. A Pakistani military analyst noted that
the arms could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces
because US arms would be given to them. Rather, the US is
playing a double-game to head off the threat of a Shiite
clergy-driven religious movement in other words, to exacerbate
the deterioration of security by penetrating, manipulating and
arming the terrorist insurgency.

What could be the end-game of such a covert strategy? The view
on-the-ground in Iraq, among both Sunnis and Shi'ites, is
worth noting. Sheikh Jawad al-Kalesi, the Shi'ite Imam of the
al-Kadhimiyah mosque in Baghdad, told Le Monde: "I dont think
that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi exists as such. Hes simply an
invention by the occupiers to divide the people."

Iraqs most powerful Sunni Arab religious authority, the
Association of Muslim Scholars, concurs, condemning the call
to arms against Shiites as a very dangerous phenomenon that
plays into the hands of the occupier who wants to split up the
country and spark a sectarian war. In colonial terms, the
strategy is known as divide and rule.

Whether or not Zarqawi can be said to exist, it is indeed
difficult to avoid the conclusion that this interpretation is
plausible. It seems the only ones who dont understand the
clandestine dynamics of Anglo-American covert strategy in Iraq
are we, the people, in the west. Its high time we got

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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