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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Islamist Iraqi president plays both sides as American trained Iraqi police disbanded for aiding murder and kidnap squads

Islamist Iraqi president plays both sides as American trained Iraqi police disbanded for aiding murder and kidnap squads

October 5, 2006

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2389131_2,00.html

The Times

October 05, 2006

800 police suspended as brigade is accused of mass abductions

By James Hider in Baghdad
Police recruits graduating at a Baghdad training camp last week (Mohammed Sawaf/AFP/Getty Images)
AN ENTIRE police brigade in Baghdad has been suspended and its commander placed under arrest on charges of aiding sectarian death squads that have carried out mass kidnappings.

The Eighth Brigade of the 2nd National Police Battalion, which has more than 800 uniformed officers in western Baghdad, was stepped down a day after armed men in official uniforms herded off 14 shopkeepers from central Baghdad, and two days after 24 workers were abducted from a meat processing plant in the capital.

"The brigade's past performance does not demonstrate the level of professionalism sought by the Ministry of the Interior," Major General William Caldwell said. "It was realised that removing them would, in fact, enhance security.

"There was clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely, when in fact they were supposed to be impeding their movement.

"The forces in the unit have not put their full allegiance to the Government of Iraq and gave their allegiance to others."

Sunni leaders have for months accused police units of helping Shia death squads to carry out a series of massive kidnappings, which have included the abduction of the entire US-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, several groups of factory workers and the whole of the Iraqi Olympic Committee. They have charged that the police forces are infiltrated by members of Shia militias who have killed scores of innocent people.

Brigadier Abdel Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said the lieutenant-colonel in charge of the Eighth Brigade had been detained and was being questioned, while rank-and-file policemen were being investigated at random.

The charges of complicity in the sectarian war that has crippled the capital was a further admission by the Shia-led Government that its own security forces are partly responsible for the incessant violence.

Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, announced on Tuesday a four-point plan that included the establishment of neighbourhood committees, which would be able to report on suspicious activities by the security forces and local militias.

The disgraced brigade will be sent for retraining by American forces, although one US trainer said the programme had been scheduled months ago as part of a sweeping overhaul of Iraq's police forces, which were hastily recruited after the 2003 invasion and which have frequently proved inadequate for the task of eradicating violence.

In late 2004 almost the entire police force in Mosul fled their bases when insurgents attacked, while Shia policemen in Najaf joined rebels from the al-Mahdi Army and gave them their weapons when they took over the shrine city that year.

Since those big setbacks, US forces have been retraining the police, but the programme has had little impact.

A survivor of Monday's mass kidnapping in a parade of computer shops near the Technology University described how half a dozen vehicles, with official security forces markings pulled up and men in military fatigues rounded up all the Sunnis. They drove off with 14 people but stopped two shops short of his establishment, he said.

The bodies of several of those abducted from a meat processing plant on Sunday were dumped on the streets, showing signs of torture. Hundreds of Sunni residents demonstrated near the factory carrying banners saying "Get police troops out of our area".

An American official involved in the police training programme said the Eighth Brigade had been scheduled for retraining for months, and insisted that not all its members were under suspicion. "It's totally ridiculous that we'd take somebody who'd just been arrested and send them for training again," he said.

Iraqi police have long been the target of al-Qaeda suicide bombers and attackers, who view them as agents of a US- installed Government. Thousands have been mown down at recruiting centres or ambushed on patrol or in their bases. Despite the dangers, many young men still want to join the force in a country whose economy is in ruins and where the regular income often outweighs the dangers of the job.

The force of around 100,000 is divided into various branches of local and national police, with battalions of special police commandos attached to the Interior Ministry. But the division within the forces is blamed by many for the impunity with which they act, with one group often not knowing what the other is doing.

$20m fund for victory party

A $20 million allowance has been set aside for a "victory in Iraq" party in Washington. The fund, to pay for a celebration "for commemoration of success" in Iraq and Afghanistan, had been tucked away in fine print of the 2006 budget. Although it has not been spent, Senetors have apparently rolled it over into the spending Bill for 2007.

The Pentagon said it did not know who had put the fund into the budget, but admitted that it looked "a bit premature".

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2003279015&zsection_id=2002107549&slug=iraqbuild28&date=20060928

Crucial Iraq police academy "a disaster"

By Amit R. Paley
The Washington Post

BAGHDAD, Iraq A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, federal investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts aimed at preparing Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."

"This is the most important civil security project in the country and it's a failure," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. "The Baghdad police academy is a disaster."

Bowen's office plans to release a 27-page report today detailing the most alarming problems with the facility.

Even in a $21 billion reconstruction effort that has been marred by cases of corruption and fraud, failures in training and housing Iraq's security forces are particularly significant because of their effect on what the U.S. military has called its primary mission here: to prepare Iraqi police and soldiers so that Americans can depart.

Federal investigators said the inspector general's findings raise serious questions about whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to exercise effective oversight over the Baghdad Police College or reconstruction programs across Iraq, despite charging taxpayers management fees of at least 4.5 percent of total project costs. The Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that it has initiated a wide-ranging investigation of the police-academy project.

The report serves as the latest indictment of Parsons Corp., an American construction giant that was awarded about $1 billion for reconstruction projects across Iraq. After chronicling previous Parsons failures to properly build health clinics, prisons and hospitals, Bowen said he now plans to audit every Parsons project.

"The truth needs to be told about what we didn't get for our dollar from Parsons," Bowen said.

A spokeswoman for Parsons said the company had not seen the inspector general's report.

The Coalition Provisional Authority hired Parsons in 2004 to transform the Baghdad Police College, a ramshackle collection of 1930s buildings, into a modern 650-acre facility whose training capacity would expand from 1,500 recruits to at least 4,000. The contract called for the firm to remake the campus by building, among other things, eight three-story student barracks, two classroom buildings and a central laundry facility.

As top U.S. military commanders declared 2006 "the year of the police," in an acknowledgement of their critical role in allowing for any withdrawal of American troops, officials highlighted the Baghdad Police College as one of their success stories.

"This facility has definitely been a top priority," Lt. Col. Joel Holtrop of the Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division's Project and Contracting Office said in a July 2006 news release. "It's a very exciting time as the cadets move into the new structures."

However, complaints about the new facilities had begun pouring in two weeks after the recruits moved in at the end of May.

The most serious problem was substandard plumbing that caused human waste from toilets on the second and third floors to cascade throughout the building. A light fixture in one room stopped working because it was filled with urine and fecal matter. The waste products threatened the integrity of load-bearing slabs, federal investigators concluded.

"When we walked down the halls, the Iraqis came running up and said, 'Please help us. Please do something about this,' "Bowen recalled.

Phillip Galeoto, director of the facility, noted in August that one complete building and five floors in others had to be shuttered for repairs, limiting the capacity of the college by up to 800 recruits.

The Parsons contract, which eventually totaled at least $75 million, was terminated May 31 "due to cost overruns, schedule slippage and substandard quality," according to a Sept. 4 internal military memo. But rather than fire the Pasadena, Calif.-based company for cause, the contract was halted for "the government's convenience."

Col. Michael Herman deputy commander of the Gulf Region Division of the Corps of Engineers, which was supposed to oversee the project said the Iraqi subcontractors hired by Parsons were being forced to fix the building problems as part of their warrantee work, at no cost to taxpayers. He said four of the eight barracks have been repaired.

Federal investigators who visited the academy last week expressed concerns about the buildings' structural integrity.

"They may have to demolish everything they built," said Robert DeShurley, a senior engineer with the inspector general.

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