Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Another Ba'ath official nabbed. And amazingly his house was full of torture equipment.

British troops today told how they caught a local Baath party kingpin with millions of Iraqi dinars and torture equipment stashed in his home.

Commando-trained Royal Engineers stormed the home of the senior military officer shortly after seizing a crucial bridge in the suburbs of Basra.

The team, a forward reconnaissance troop, said the man had three million dinars (about €1,500) and had been recruiting Iraqis to fight while extorting money out of others.

He also had whips and handcuffs in the property, in Abu Al Khasib, on the outskirts of Iraq’s second city.

Corporal Joe Hogan, 27, from Barnstaple, Devon, UK, said: “This guy was the central man for the area.

“He had loads of money sent from Baghdad and was recruiting fighters.

“But he had also been taking money off the locals and it looks like he had been exploiting them for years.

“He had a military uniform on with three stars (usually the sign of a captain) but we think he was much more senior than that.”

How did the operation go down?

The recce troop, made up of two teams of six, and up to ten troops from 148 Battery, seized an inland bridge in the suburb after a firefight with around 25 Iraqis.

They took the bridge relatively quickly and took 20 prisoners, seven of which were believed to be experienced soldiers, the troops said.

It was then they moved in to the town and discovered the house.

Corporal James Maloney, 26, from Bristol, said: “The locals obviously hated this guy.

“They told us that when we were taking the bridge they were all praying to Allah that he would be killed.

“He had all this money and weapons in his house. He was obviously the main man in the area and he was taken away for questioning.

“Some of the other guys caught had money on them as well, probably sent down from Saddam.”

Where is AI, HRW, Kofi?

Lance Corporal Robert Vessey, 26 from Stevenson, Scotland, also of 59’s recce troop, said: “In our operation there was a bloke running around with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade launcher) but wherever he was there was always a group of women or children near him.

“He was obviously using them as a shield.”

A British Royal Engineer attached to the Queen’s Dragoon Guards spoke of similar scenes in a separate clash near Basra during Operation James.

The soldier, who asked not to be named, said: “As soon as any shooting began a crowd of women and children would turn up.

“They looked terrified and were clearly being forced out at gunpoint.

“It got to the point where it became a combat indicator. When we went in to areas and there was no fighting the women and children were no where to be seen but as soon as any contact started then there they were.

< email | 4/03/2003 10:53:00 AM | link

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