British special forces caught dressed as Arab 'terrorists'
September 22, 2005
Fascinating. No really, the ‘evolution’ of state disinformation has probably never been better displayed than in the case of the two (more than likely) SAS soldiers who were ‘liberated’ after being arrested by the Iraqi police on 19 September by a phalanx of tanks and helicopter gunships that stormed the police station where the two undercover soldiers were being held after they allegedly failed to stop at an Iraqi police roadblock and subsequently opened fire on the Iraqi police, killing one and wounding another.
The car they were travelling in was loaded with weapons including allegedly, assault rifles, a light machine gun, an anti-tank weapon, radio gear and a medical kit (’standard’ SAS issue according to the BBC). According to at least two reports, the car they were traveling in (A Toyota Cressida) was “booby-trapped”.
Subsequent accounts vary according to the source but according to the initial story broadcast on the BBC (19/9/05), the two men wore traditional Arab dress but then this changed to “civilian dress” (BBC TV News).
As more information trickled out, a BBC story reported that the men were freed after the police station had been attacked by British tanks, a report that the British government initially denied saying that “the release of the soldiers had been negotiated” (BBC Website 20/0/05).
Britain’s Ministry of Defence says the release of the two soldiers had been negotiated and it did not believe the prison had been stormed.
“We’ve heard nothing to suggest we stormed the prison,” a ministry spokesman said.
“We understand there were negotiations.”
Lisa Glover, spokeswoman for the British embassy in Baghdad, says three people have been wounded in the operation to free the soldiers.
She did not give further details of how the soldiers were freed.
Then the story changed yet again, only now the ‘official’ story, dutifully reported by the British State Broadcasting Company (BSBC), was that “negotiations broke down” and that the two men were in the hands of the Mehdi Army in another building, in which case, why was the police station stormed?
Then yet another version was issued by the British government only now the police station was indeed attacked but only after “negotiations broke down”. So were the two SAS men in the police station or not?
According to yet another BSBC report, after breaking into the police station, the Brits discovered that they had been moved to a Mehdi Army house for “interrogation”. Yet subsequent accounts revealed that they had in fact, been in the police station all along and, according to a CNN report, were being questioned by an Iraqi judge, not, as the British government alleged, by the ‘insurgents’.
By now, in a classic disinformation campaign, so many stories were being circulated that sorting out the truth from fiction was virtually impossible unless one is prepared to dig and dig deep.
What is clear is that the two SAS “undercover operatives” had been caught red-handed by the British government’s alleged allies, the Iraqi police, dressed as Arabs, replete with wigs and armed to the teeth and in a car which according to one report, was packed with explosives (the car by the way, has been taken away by the British occupation forces).
The question the BSBC was not and still is not asking, is what were they up to, creeping around dressed up as Iraqis in what is meant to be a relatively peaceful Basra?
Once more the BSBC answered the question, sort of, courtesy yet another ‘official’ story, one that was to emerge only after a very angry crowd attacked two British armoured vehicles, setting at least one on fire. The “mob”, as the BSBC described them, were according to the report, angry over the arrest of two Mehdi Army members, also on 19 September, and that it had nothing to with the freeing of the two SAS. In reality of course, the ‘mob’ had already been informed about the two SAS undercover guys and were understandably upset.
So now, the two undercover SAS men were, it is imputed, searching for ‘insurgents’ as part of a counter-insurgency operation, which if true, what were they doing dressed as Iraqis?
Were they on some kind of provocative operation? According to one report, this is exactly what they were up to. Fattah al-Shaykh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly told this account to al-Jazeera
If you really want to look for truth, then we should resort to the Iraqi justice away from the British provocations against the sons of Basra, particularly what happened today when the sons of Basra 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. However, the sons of the city of Basra arrested them. They [the two non-Iraqis] then fired at the people there and killed some of them. The two arrested persons are now 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.
And in yet another report from Syrian TV we read
[Al-Munajjid] In fact, Nidal, this incident gave answers to questions and suspicions that were lacking evidence about the participation of the occupation in some armed operations in Iraq. Many analysts and observers here had suspicions that the occupation was involved in some armed operations against civilians and places of worship and in the killing of scientists. But those were only suspicions that lacked proof. The proof came today through the arrest of the two British soldiers while they were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets. This proves, according to observers, that the occupation is not far from many operations that seek to sow sedition and maintain disorder, as this would give the occupation the justification to stay in Iraq for a longer period.
When viewed in the context of all the stories that have been circulating about the mythical ‘al-Zarqawi’ and the alleged role of al-Queda, the events in Basra are the first real evidence that we have of the role of occupation forces in destabilising Iraq through the use of agents provocateurs masquerading as ‘insurgents’.
And, as I have long alleged here, it is now almost certain that ‘al-Zarqawi’ is probably long dead. An AFP story tells us
[The] Imam of Baghdad’s al-Kazimeya mosque, Jawad al-Kalesi said, that “al-Zarqawi is dead but Washington continues to use him as a bogeyman to justify a prolonged military occupation…He’s simply an invention by the occupiers to divide the people.” Al-Kalesi added that al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north and that “His family in Jordan even held a ceremony after his death.”
And indeed, last year, in a piece I wrote about ‘al-Zarqawi’, I referred to a report about ‘al-Zarqawi’ being killed when the US flattened the ‘base’ of his group Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq in early 2003, a report that actually originated with the US government.
Yet the BSBC, along with the rest of the Western media continues to put out endless reams of disinformation about ‘al-Zarqawi’ and his connection to the fictitious ‘al-Queda in Iraq’. Given the long-held assertion by the West that goes back to 2003, that Iraq was on the verge of ‘civil war’, it’s instructive to note that as the military situation of the occupation forces has deteriorated, so too has the level of so-called al-Queda operations increased, in a transparent attempt to divide the Iraqi national resistance, thus the increasing stories about impending civil war and the wave of ‘suicide’ bombings.
The exposure of the undercover SAS operations will only add to the resolve of Iraqi resistance forces to step up their campaign to expel the occupiers regardless of what kind of blatant propaganda line the UK government puts out.
It furthermore exposes the untenable position of the Iraqi ‘government’ which is now being squeezed by both sides, thus we get contradictory positions from the Iraqi ‘government’, with one denying that the SAS operatives had been handed over to ‘Shiite militia’ and the other trying desperately to tread an almost invisible line between condemning the actions of the British government whilst blaming the actions of the Iraqi police in Basra on ‘insurgents’ who have ‘infiltrated’ the police force. Yet it is a fact that at best, perhaps only 25% of the Iraqi military can be relied upon to serve their colonial masters.
Continuing to call them insurgents is itself an admission that the majority of Iraqis are opposed to the occupation and indeed, the bulk of the fighting is being carried out by the Kurdish Peshmerga as Iraqi forces simply cannot be relied on. It’s a classic situation that the US and UK military top brass know only too well having ‘been there and done that’ before.
Thus the occupiers become more desperate to destabilise the situation and no doubt we’ll see more SAS and US provocations revealed over the coming weeks as the situation continues to deteriorate.
The Iraqi police were patrolling the area looking for suspected "terrorists" or "insurgents", and they noticed that the men were acting suspiciously. Suddenly, without warning, the suspicious men started shooting at people, but the new Iraqi security forces managed to capture some of them before they could escape. Obviously, if these men had not been caught, the mass media would now be reporting the incident as just another attempt by evil "terrorists" to create civil war in Iraq.
There have been a number of incidents in this area and throughout Iraq in which police and civilians have been targeted and killed by "terrorists" or "insurgents". But this is the first time that any of those responsible have been caught in the act, and it is now clear that at least some of them are working directly for the occupying forces, as many Iraqis have openly suspected all along.
A few days ago, in a statement unreported in the corporate mass media, Iran's most senior military official specifically linked the instability in Iraq with agents of the US and its allies: "we have information that the insecurity has its roots in the activities of American and Israeli spies."
The post-war violence in Iraq is always been blamed on "Islamic extremists" or "rival ethnic factions". Yet in the history of the country, nothing like this has ever happened before. The problems began precisely when the US and UK seized control.
The Iraqi police arrested the men and put them in prison. Unfortunately the police never had a chance to question the men and find out exactly what they were doing, because within minutes the UK sent in six tanks and an elite SAS unit to break their terrorists out of jail.
During the illegal prison break Iraqi officials were held at gunpoint, much of the jail was demolished, and all of the other criminals and insurgents were set free. The US and UK do not hesitate to use violence and terror to achieve their objectives, no matter what the consequences.
The official explanation for the illegal jail break is that somebody thought the British men might be taken away by a gang of Iraqi resistance fighters and never seen again. This is blatantly nonsense, of course, because the entire prison was entirely surrounded by British tanks and troops. With the full force of the British military at hand, the terrorists were rescued quickly and easily.
As further details emerge, the Western media increasingly presents conflicting reports about the nature and sequence of events, and the official British sources cited without question in mainstream news coverage are indicative of a classic disinformation exercise.
When local people saw what was happening the area began to erupt with angry anti-British protests.
The Guardian, "British tanks storm Basra jail to free undercover soldiers", front page, 20 September 2005.
British tanks storm Basra jail to free undercover soldiers
British troops used tanks last night to break down the walls of a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and free two undercover British soldiers who were seized earlier in the day by local police.
An official from the Iraqi interior ministry said half a dozen tanks had broken down the walls of the jail and troops had then stormed it to free the two British soldiers. The governor of Basra last night condemned the "barbaric aggression" of British forces in storming the jail.
Aquil Jabbar, an Iraqi television cameraman who lives across the street from the jail, said dozens of Iraqi prisoners also fled in the confusion.
In a day of dramatic incidents in the heart of the British-controlled area of Iraq, the two undercover soldiers - almost certainly special forces - were held by Iraqi security forces after clashes that reportedly left two people dead and threatened to escalate into a diplomatic incident between London and Baghdad.
The soldiers, who were said to have been wearing Arab headdress, were accused of firing at Iraqi police when stopped at a road block.
Muhammad al-Abadi, an official in the Basra governorate, told journalists the two undercover soldiers had looked suspicious to police. "A policeman approached them and then one of these guys fired at him. Then the police managed to capture them."
BBC News, "Iraq probe into soldier incident", 20 September 2005.
Both men were members of the SAS elite special forces, sources told the BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad.
Mr Reid said surveillance had established the men were being moved to another location, while at the same time an angry crowd posed an obstacle to the departure of the six-strong team.
Almost simultaneously, a separate operation was staged to rescue the men from the place where they had been moved to.
Richard Galpin said al-Jazeera news channel footage, purportedly of the equipment carried in the men's car, showed assault rifles, a light machine gun, an anti-tank weapon, radio gear and medical kit.
Al-Jazeera, "The occupation forces are the real perpetrators of bomb attacks in Iraq?", 14 September 2005.
Iran�s top military commander accused the United States and Israel of planning the non-stop bomb attacks that killed thousands of civilians in Iraq.
Brigadier General Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr, the deputy commander of Iran�s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), told a gathering of senior officials, that the U.S. needs those attacks to justify the continuation of its military presence in Iraq.
�The Americans blame weak and feeble groups in Iraq for insecurity in this country. We do not believe this and we have information that the insecurity has its roots in the activities of American and Israeli spies,� Zolqadr said.
�Insecurity in Iraq is a deeply-rooted phenomenon. The root of insecurity in Iraq lies in the occupation of this country by foreigners�.
Washington Post, "British Smash Into Iraqi Jail To Free 2 Detained Soldiers", front page, 20 September 2005.
BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 -- British armored vehicles backed by helicopter gunships burst through the walls of an Iraqi jail Monday in the southern city of Basra to free two British commandos detained earlier in the day by Iraqi police, witnesses and Iraqi officials said. The incident climaxed a confrontation between the two nominal allies that had sparked hours of gun battles and rioting in Basra's streets.
An Iraqi official said a half-dozen armored vehicles had smashed into the jail, the Reuters news agency reported. The provincial governor, Mohammed Walli, told news agencies that the British assault was "barbaric, savage and irresponsible."
In London, authorities said the two commandos were released after negotiations. But the BBC quoted British defense officials as saying a wall was demolished when British forces went to "collect" the men.
The killing of the New York Times reporter took place six weeks after an American freelance journalist, Steven Vincent, was kidnapped and killed in Basra, allegedly after being taken away in a marked police car. ...
Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives. Photographs of the two men in custody showed them in civilian clothes.
BBC News, "Insurgents 'inside Iraqi police'", 21 September 2005.
A report released by the US defence department in July said Iraq's police force was recruiting insurgents and former criminals to its ranks.
CBC News, "The Geneva Conventions", 13 May 2005.
The Americans argued that captured members of al-Qaeda do not fall into any of these categories, saying that al-Qaeda members don't wear uniforms ("fixed distinctive sign") or obey the laws of war. Rumsfeld labeled them "unlawful combatants," and said the rules of the Geneva Convention did not apply.
Washington Post, "Enemy Combatant Vanishes Into a 'Legal Black Hole'", 30 July 2003.
During war, captured enemies are either lawful combatants, soldiers who adhere to such rules of war as wearing identifiable uniforms -- in which case they become prisoners of war -- or unlawful combatants. Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives fall into the latter category, the United States has decided, and thus have fewer legal rights than POWs and far fewer than criminal defendants.
'Five Iraqi civilians killed' in SAS rescue operation
In pics: troops under attack
Five Iraqi civilians died in clashes surrounding the controversial operation to free two British SAS men captured in Basra, it was claimed today.
Iraqi police said the latest two died in hospital today after being wounded as British troops stormed a police station jail on Monday.
Iraqi police are reported to have taken part in anti-British demonstrations in the southern Iraqi city today.
But John Reid, the Defence Secretary, and Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari insisted relations between the two countries remained strong.
"There has not been a fundamental breakdown in trust between the British Government and the Iraqi government," Mr Reid said at a press conference following talks between the two men in London today.
He said the strategy of the British Government had not changed, and it would work towards a handover of security to Iraqi forces.
"We will not cut and run, and we will not leave the job half done," he said.
Mr Jaafari also said that the incidents of the last few days would not affect British-Iraqi relations, and said such incidents were "expected to happen". He said he had ordered a full inquiry.
Confusion still surrounds whether British forces knocked down a prison wall, resulting in the escape of prisoners, in their attempt to rescue the two SAS men.
The British troops believed the two Special Forces men were being held there but later freed them from a house in Basra where they were being held by Shia militia.
As concern grew that Iraqi police had handed the men over to the militia, Iraq's government admitted that insurgents had infiltrated its security forces.
Iraq's national security adviser Dr Mouwafak al-Rubaie said: "Our Iraqi security forces in general, police in particular, in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit, have been penetrated by some of the insurgents, some of the terrorists as well.
"I can't deny this. We are putting in place a very scrupulous, very meticulous vetting procedure in the process of recruiting a new batch of police and Iraqi army, which will, if you like, clean our security forces as well as stop any penetration in future from the insurgents and terrorists."
The capture of the SAS men came a day after British forces in Basra arrested two leading members of the outlawed Mahdi Army, which is loyal to firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and is widely believed to have heavily infiltrated police in the city.
Other groups to have infiltrated the police are believed to include the Badr Brigade, which is the armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, and Hezbollah in Iraq.
All three groups have historical ties to neighbouring Iran.
Police in Basra said the SAS men, who were travelling in a car dressed as Arab men, shot and killed a policeman when they were stopped.
But the British said no one was killed and a spokesman for Mr Jaafari said they were arrested for behaving suspiciously.
British officers say they received intelligence that the men's lives were at risk and bulldozed their way into the jail, in the face of a mob throwing petrol bombs, to rescue them.
The action, condemned by many in Iraq, was defended as "absolutely right" by Dr Reid.
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