Tuesday, December 25, 2007

British "bosses didn't want to expose Iraqi police corruption"

'Bosses didn't want to expose Iraqi police corruption'

Henry McDonald, Duncan Campbell and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday December 24, 2007
The Guardian

Colin Williamson, 44, is a former member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary who joined ArmorGroup in December 2004. As someone who had been used to liaising with the British army during his time with the RUC, he said that he was dismayed at the way the operation was run.

"The original, official role was to be training and mentoring the Iraqi police," Williamson said. He said that it soon became clear that they would be involved in security matters.

"This included the handling of sources, which was identical almost to the work I used to do back in Northern Ireland in liaison with British army there. My role was to go to certain Iraqi police stations on a daily basis in the Basra area. But we were told not to report back any intelligence we picked up there, not to hand it over to the British military. Why? Because our bosses and probably, in turn, the FCO didn't want to expose how corrupt and infiltrated by the militia the police were."

Williamson said he believed such intelligence could have been vital. "I ignored the order and, at first, put the intelligence I picked up on my report sheets for the company," he said. "But nobody wanted to know. So I told the military everything I could pick up. Because I had an impeccable source inside the Iraqi police who didn't want money, he just believed the militias shouldn't be attacking the army that came to Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

"This officer was a brilliant source of information in the Basra region. At one stage I was moved to a very dangerous place in the city called the Old State Building. This officer used to let me know in advance when there would be a mortar attack on the base. Each time he gave me prior warning I would go to a certain company commander, a major in the British army, and in turn warn him about it."

He added: 'I am convinced this man's information saved lives and yet our official line was not to tell the military about any intelligence we came across regarding the police and the militias. He was so well informed that on one occasion when he rang he said: 'You are about to be attacked at any moment' and before he could put down the phone the mortars came in."   continued

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