The Independent on Sunday asks questions about the undercover soldiers arrested in Basra.
aangirfan | September 26 2005
The Independent on Sunday, 25 September 2005, asks: So what were two undercover British soldiers up to in Basra?
The paper reports:
1. an Iraqi judge has issued arrest warrants for the two 'British' soldiers recently snatched from a police station in Basra.
2. "Judge Mudhafar says he is not convinced the two men are British - possibly because one of them was said to have been carrying a Canadian-made weapon - and they may not be entitled to immunity. This has added yet another layer of mystery to what is already an extremely murky affair...
3. "The picture the British public has been allowed to gain of our occupation of southern Iraq - one of relative tranquillity and co-operation compared to the bloody mayhem further north - is at best misleading, at worst deliberately distorted...
4. "It is not impossible that one or both of the men are not British. Special forces from Australia and New Zealand, for example, often work closely with the SAS. They could even be "civilian contractors" of the kind hired by the CIA, usually ex-special forces.
'The so-called "insurgent" bombings are really being carried out by UK and US operatives'; the role of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.
5. "Subversion from nearby Iran has been blamed for a recent increase in attacks on British forces in southern Iraq... Initial assumptions that the undercover pair were working to combat such influence have been contradicted by military and other sources...
6. "Initial attempts by British military spokesmen to minimise what happened merely heightened confusion and suspicion. Claims that the crowd was small and the violence minor were quickly belied by photographs of a soldier leaping from the turret of his Warrior armoured vehicle, his uniform burning from a petrol bomb. British troops were said to have emerged largely unscathed, only for it to emerge later that one was flown home in a serious condition.
Not only did it appear that lethal force had to be used to suppress the riot, causing an unknown number of Iraqi deaths, it was also claimed that the two undercover men had opened fire when they were stopped at a police roadblock, killing at least one policeman. There were also sharply conflicting accounts of why troops crashed into the station: to determine where the pair were, according to one version, or to rescue a negotiating team, according to another. The surveillance team had been handed over to militants and were found at a house in the district, the military said, but Iraqis denied this, saying the building was within the compound."
7. "Conspiracy theories, always rife in Iraq, have been fuelled dramatically by last week's events, according to Mazin Younis of the Iraqi League, an alliance of Iraqi exiles based in Britain. He has close contacts with Basra. 'Everyone you talk to [thinks the two undercover men] were up to something very bad... to kill somebody or destroy a building, and let us battle against each other,' he said.