ARMY ON TRIAL: British convoy bombed as militants vent anger over `election success'
Friday 04 February 2005
With Islamist militants calling for a renewed campaign of violence after the national elections, and the expectation of disturbances when the results are announced, soldiers are already on a high state of alert.
A British Army convoy was hit yesterday by a blast in central Basra, injuring a civilian and damaging a Land Rover. Lieutenant-Colonel Phil Lewis, of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, said militants were venting their frustration over the successful elections. The murder charges also come after the widespread viewing in Iraq on the internet of photographs of abuse of prisoners shown at the court martial in Osnabruck and other reports of alleged malpractice.
The news about the paratroopers and their alleged part in the death of Nadhem Abdullah in May 2003 had not widely permeated Basra by yesterday evening. By today, however, it is expected to be publicised in time for the Friday prayers regularly used by militant Muslim clerics to preach against the US and British occupation.
Senior officers stress that the numbers of cases of alleged abuse are small considering the large presence of forces in Iraq over the past 15 months. But they also acknowledge that the continuous "drip" effect of more and more cases is having a sapping effect on morale as well as increasing tension with the local Shia community. There is also a growing awareness that there was a breakdown in discipline after the official end of war than has been admitted. One officer said: "The traditional response has been to say that these were just a few bad apples. But one has to look at the number of regiments affected. In particular one must address the issue of leadership and just what kind of control the officers were keeping of their men."
A colleague added: "There is a realisation that some serious questions have to be asked when all these court proceedings are over." Some Iraqi civilians in Basra insisted last night they were not surprised by the charges over the death of Mr Abdullah and claimed that abuse by British troops was far more widespread than had been made public. Kefa Taha was arrested along with Baha Mousa from a hotel in Basra and claims that he was severely beaten while in custody. British Army hospital records say that he was admitted for treatment with "renal failure ... and severe bruising to his upper abdomen and the right side of his chest.
Mr Taha, 44, who is seeking compensation from the British government, told The Independent last night: "We were treated very badly ... But we were not the only ones ... It is just that it is not known in Britain."
Mohammed Kareem Raadh, 37, an electrical engineer, said: "I know of people who have been shot by British troops. This does not surprise us here."
However, Aamir al-Hussein, a doctor, said: "These things happened during a short period and they have stopped. People who complain should remember what it was like under Saddam, how many hundreds were killed, how many hundreds disappeared."
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 Floyd Mayweather's mouthguard costs $25,000 - enough to fly to Las Vegas and back 18 times
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Which country would be hardest to invade?
Morgan Freeman on the riot-focused coverage of the Baltimore protests: 'F**k the media'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Nepal earthquake: Many survivors receiving no help despite relief effort
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...