Mosul unsafe for foreigners

We arrived on the scene less than 48 hours after Andy Bradsell, a Canadian citizen working as a private bodyguard in Iraq, had been gunned down in a violent ambush in the northern city of Mosul.

    Frequent bombings and clashes have left the northern city tense

    Finding the actual location proved to be much easier than I had anticipated as there was no shortage of eager "eyewitnesses" to the event, all of them willing to serve as guides.

    The fact that Yashir, a 28-year-old Kurdish schoolteacher, happened to be in the middle of a haircut did not deter him from volunteering.

    As the only one in the crowd who spoke passable English, Yashir led us on foot to the ambush site – still wearing the barber's apron.

    The roadway in front of the Mosul power plant was empty except for several dark stains on the asphalt and shards of broken glass. The shattered 4x4 vehicle in which Bradsell and his British partner were killed on 28 March had since been removed.

    Thankfully, it was just about dark and the dim light made it impossible to distinguish between motor oil and bloodstains.

    "Arab fidayin are responsible for this attack – they are very bad people," said Yashir.

    Although US authorities suspect that Arab fighters from outside Iraq are responsible for this attack, I asked Yashir why he and so many of his fellow Kurdish residents had been televised dancing on the vehicle and around the corpses.

    "You are Canadian, so for that we are sorry that your countryman has died," he replied, "But these people [like Andy Bradsell] are here to steal our jobs and to steal our money – that is why we rejoice in their death."

    Little insight

    The ambush took place only a few hundred metres from the imposing barricades and metal gates of the Mosul power plant and in full view of the Iraqi security forces inside.

    Like the local citizens, the Iraqi policemen were also eager to discuss the incident, but could offer little insight into Bradsell or his fellow bodyguards.

    A British guard lies dead after 
    the attack in Mosul on 28 March

    "They do not work here at the plant with our security force. Their only job is to protect the foreign executives," said Muhammad, a 27-year-old engineer.

    After telephoning his superior, Muhammad advised me that no one was authorised to provide an official statement other than to confirm that the bodies of Bradsell and his colleague had been repatriated to Britain after a small ceremony inside the American base.

    As confirmation that Iraqi and private security units were not co-operating closely, the officials at the power plant were unable to provide me with any contact numbers.

    Nor could they confirm the location of the bodyguards' accommodation, but suggested I try some of the local hotels.

    Nowhere safe

    Prior to the war, the UN inspection teams had stayed at the Ninevah Palace, and following Saddam's ousting, this Western-standard hotel had been home to many foreign aid agencies and private security companies. However, the security situation has changed in recent months.

    Local police have struggled to
    impose law and order

    "We have no foreign nationals staying with us now," said Ahmad, the 57-year-old night clerk. "In fact, there is nowhere that is safe for them to stay – except inside the American camp."

    It was readily apparent that the US military has greatly reduced its presence on the otherwise bustling streets of Mosul.

    One reason for this is that, as a result of the recent troop rotation, the 22,000 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division based in the Mosul area have been replaced by just 6000 troops of the Stryker Brigade.

    As part of the US' Iraqisation policy, routine patrols once conducted by the Americans are now performed by the newly constituted Iraqi police and civil defences forces.

    The remaining US forces have consolidated their positions in heavily defended compounds at Mosul airport and at Saddam's former palace.

    Cool welcome

    It was within the latter that we were told we might possibly locate foreign contractors such as Olive Security, the firm that employed Bradsell. However, our reception at the floodlit, heavily barricaded gates was somewhat less than cordial.

    Obviously alert to the dangers of human bombings, our vehicle was stopped by half a dozen soldiers well ahead of the concrete barricades. Although he was sympathetic to my request regarding information on Bradsell, Specialist Williams ordered us to leave immediately.

    "Unless you've got an appointment – and you don't – you ain't getting inside," he said. "Perhaps you could try to stop them [Olive Security officials] when they drive out of here tomorrow morning."

    But, I quickly dismissed this as an option. Given what had recently transpired, I figured the notion of waving down a bodyguard unit in the Mosul traffic might just prove deadly.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.