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May 29, 2007

Foreign Office To Hold Crisis Talks On Iraq Kidnapping Of 'Five' Britons - Attack Highlights Dangerous Duty Of Security In Iraq

Topics: Iraq

The British Foreign Office is "urgently" looking into reports that four British security guards of the security firm and one British computer expert they were guarding, are among at least seven Westerners kidnapped from the Finance Ministry building in central Baghdad by gunmen dressed in Iraqi uniforms.

The Foreign Office was today "urgently" looking into reports that four British security guards and one further Briton are among at least seven Westerners kidnapped by gunmen in Iraq.

All seven, including three computer programmers, were reportedly taken from the Finance Ministry building in central Baghdad.

Details are sketchy on the nationality and exact number of those kidnapped, but if the reports that five Britons were among the hostages is true, it will be the largest group of British security guards taken in Iraq.

The BBC has reported that five Britons were among those kidnapped - four security guards and one computer expert they were guarding - but other reports did not mention the nationality of the guards.

[...] The BBC has also reported that a crisis team, including police hostage negotiators, members of the secret intelligence service, and regional experts, is being assembled to establish lines of communication with the kidnappers.

"Where we suspect British nationals have been abducted it would be normal to meet," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said, adding several government departments would be involved.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman could not confirm the reports but said: "We are urgently looking into reports that a group of Westerners has been kidnapped."

The building is outside the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone. The fact that the kidnappers were wearing police uniforms sparked rumours that "renegade" officers were involved.

Such groups have previously been involved in commercial kidnappings and have also been accused of sectarian murders in Baghdad, the BBC said.

[...] There are conflicting reports about how the abduction took place. Iraqi police have said that the hostages were seized from cars outside the building.

They said about 40 gunmen sealed off streets around the three-storey computer science building belonging to the ministry.

However a witness, who did not want to be identified, said the lecturers had been giving ministry personnel a lecture on electronic contracts. The lecture was taking place in the ministry building on Palestine Street.

The gunmen, led by a police major, had entered the conference room shouting "Where are the foreigners, where are the foreigners?" the witness said.

Today's report of British security operators and their charges being kidnapped highlights the highly dangerous and important missions conducted every day by security firms in Iraq, albeit much maligned by media such as the Washington Post. On Sunday the Washington Post had an article titled, "U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad" targeted Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, saying that "Blackwater security personnel opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week," and "one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces." The article was neither factually accurate nor fair in the context in which it presented the incidents.

As in the case of the kidnapped British security personnel, security operations are among the most dangerous missions undertaken in Iraq on a daily basis, and the slightest hesitation can result in capture or death of the security personnel and the people that they are charged with protecting.

Blackwater personnel operate under constant threat and under strict guidelines for using deadly force. In the case of the WaPo-report that a Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, the victim purposefully drove too close to their convoy, which drew fire. Concerned about a possible car bomb or other threat, the guards tried to wave off the vehicle, shouted, fired a warning shot into the radiator, then shot into the windshield only when the driver failed to pull back. Had they not done so and the driver had been a suicide bomber, the Blackwater personnel and the persons they were charged with protecting could have been killed. The Blackwater personnel did their job, and they did it exactly as they were suppose to under the conditions in which they were presented; those conditions were not of their own choosing but that of the driver of the vehicle that constituted the threat to the convoy. It's standard procedure for using deadly force in Iraq.

In regard to the WaPo report that last Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area, the WaPo reporters simply have the facts wrong. From very trusted sources that were at the scene, we know that what actually happened was that the Blackwater convoy came upon an army unit already under attack, and it was the Blackwater personnel that responded to help the Army unit already under attack. Subsequently, the Blackwater personnel fought off the attackers until a larger Army unit and helicopter support arrived on scene. The Blackwater personnel used both grenades an machine gun fire to support the Army unit in the hour-long battle, with one Blackwater person having to use as many as 40 grenades to save the unit and fend off the attackers until help arrived.

Security operations continue to be extremely dangerous missions that are an important element of the coalition's mission in Iraq. For whatever reason, reporters such as the WaPo's Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi continue to frame their bravery in as unfavorable light as possible, while it appears that they rush to report news in such a manner as to support a personal agenda than to get the facts straight.

Warriors for Hire - Blackwater USA and the rise of private military contractors. by Mark Hemingway.

Highly recommended Book: Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror by Robert Young Pelton.

Not recommended book, unless you just happen to like reading leftist anti-war dribble
by a shrill of the anti-war, peace at all costs Democracy Now (sort of a lesser funded, named Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater - The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. By anti-Blackwater, anti-war, anti-American liberal author Jeremy Scahill.

Posted by Richard at May 29, 2007 10:39 AM

Very well-written! It's about time someone "spoke" objectively about this subject. I'm so tired of seeing all the liberals using their playground tactics when it comes to BW and other companies like it - all the name-calling and allegations, when they really have no clue what the words they use even mean.

Posted by: S at May 30, 2007 1:17 PM

S isn't the only one that's tired of the liberals bashing people that risk their lives for our nation every day, often under the most dangerous of circumstances in the the most dangerous environments in the world.Just because they are well payed for their very high level of experience and expertise, doesn't mean that they are any less patriotic than when they served in our military - which most indeed have!!!

We get emails about this all the time.

Posted by: Abdul at May 31, 2007 2:51 PM

I have something else to add. After I posted this comment the other day I went to a couple of other sites to see the Bush/BW bashing liberals' latest posts. I keep seeing a pattern. They keep harping on how much money the contractors make and how they are all motivate by greed. Before I make my next statement, let me just say that I truly appreciate our military troops and all they have done and continue to do for all of us. However, if we are going to discuss motivation, let's talk for a minute about the men and women who join the military in order to go to college. Then they complain when they actually get "called to war". HELLO! That's part of it! At least the private contractors go into this with open eyes. Yet, it's their patriotism that is questioned. They know full well what they will face. And, come on, let's be real here - sure they make good money, but they could make that kind of money at other -safer- jobs, so that's not the only motivation they have for doing the job they do. These same liberals who are throwing stones while they're tucked away safely here at home are the ones that -when they feel it would be good for their political careers- go to Iraq to "show their support" and depend completely on these contactors, whom they love to bash, to protect them!

Posted by: S at June 1, 2007 8:02 AM

And not only are the liberals protected by the "contractors", so are the diplomats and the politicians of all stripes. And nothing is being said about the pitched battles these guys go through in some of the toughest areas of Iraq.

Posted by: Richard at June 1, 2007 11:31 AM

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