British Mercenaries Shooting at Baghdad Motorists
British Mercenaries Shooting at Baghdad Motorists is Part of "the Rules of Engagement"
by Michel Chossudovsky
December 4, 2005
Security contractors of the so-called "Victory" Group of the British mercenary Firm Aegis Defense Services have committed the ultimate war crime: the indiscriminate killing of civilians as part of a "game", not a video game but a real game of shooting Iraqi civilians as a form of entertainment, as revealed in a "trophy video" posted on an Aegis employees website. There are in fact several video clips, which suggests that the practice is not an isolated event.
The Video was taken by an Aegis employee from the back of a vehicle.
The CEO of Aegis is Tim Spicer, a former lieutenant colonel in the Scots Guards.
Spicer headed Sandline International, a mercenary outfit disbanded in April 2004 following controversy surrounding its role in Sierra Leone, as well as, more recently, in Papua New Guinea.
Sandline indicated on its website the reasons for the closure:
On 16 April 2004 Sandline International announced the closure of the company's operations.
The general lack of governmental support for Private Military Companies willing to help end armed conflicts in places like Africa, in the absence of effective international intervention, is the reason for this decision. Without such support the ability of Sandline to make a positive difference in countries where there is widespread brutality and genocidal behaviour is materially diminished ( http://www.sandline.com )
Barely a month following the closure of Sandline, in May 2004, Aegis Defense Services, which is essentially a continuation of Sandline under a different name, received a 293 million dollar contract. from the Pentagon to ensure public security in Iraq on behalf of the occupying forces.
Aegis had been put in charge of "providing armed bodyguards for the Army's Project and Contracting Office, which oversees reconstruction projects, as well as coordinating security for 10 other prime contractors in Iraq." (WP, 23 April 2005)
The Aegis Audit
The behavior of Aegis mercenaries was known to the Pentagon. Sandline had a well established track record.
Private defense contractors
were involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Sandline's
track record under the helm of Tim Spicer was known and
Moreover, An audit of Aegis activities (pdf) conducted in April 2005 had reported that several of Aegis recruits had not received appropriate training in the use of weapons. In fact, 11 out of 20 surveyed were considered to be inadequately trained with regard to the handling of an AK 47 (see audit report):
A controversial British firm responsible for a $293 million U.S. Army security contract in Iraq could not prove that its armed employees received proper weapons training....
In addition to criticizing Aegis Defence Services Ltd., the audit took aim t the Army's contracting office in Iraq for poor oversight. It reported that the official who was supposed to keep watch over Aegis's contract had not been trained in either monitoring contracts or security. The office was also severely short-staffed: At the time of the audit, 41 officials were administering 6,500 contracts and task orders.
... A random survey of 20 Aegis employees who had been issued weapons -- including AK-47 and M4 assault rifles -- showed that the company did not have the needed weapons training documentation for 14 of them. As a result, auditors could not say whether "all contractor personnel are qualified on the weapons that they had been issued."(WP, 23 April 2005)
Despite these shortcomings, Aegis was found to be in compliance with its contract.
Rules of Engagement
Since the release of the controversial video, both the media and the Pentagon have remained mum on the subject. No apologies to the civlian victims.
While an internal investigation has been ordered by Aegis CEO Tim Spicer, a company statement has clarified that opening fire on civilian vehilces is "under certain circumstances" in conformity with the Rules of Engagement:
AEGIS' personnel have substantial military and peacekeeping experience and all operate under strict and accountable Rules of Engagement of the Coalition Military (CENTCOM), and the US Department of State, as well as Coalition Provisional Authority Order - Memo 17.
These Rules of Engagement allow for a structured escalation of force to include opening fire on civilian vehicles under certain circumstances. All incidents of the use of such escalation of force which includes the use of firearms are logged and investigated to ensure that there has been strict adherence to the Rules of Engagement. Should any incident recorded on the video footage have involved AEGIS personnel, this too will be subject to scrutiny by the Board of Enquiry.
(for full statement see http://www.aegisworld.com/latest_news.lasso)
U.S. Took Eyes Off Mercenaries, $96M in Iraq, New Audits Find
9 May 2005
by Chris Shumway and Brian Dominick
The government office charged with investigating misconduct in the reconstruction of Iraq just revealed dozens of new allegations that Western contractors and their overseers mismanaged Iraqi reconstruction funds.
United States authorities failed to ensure that a British mercenary company was in full compliance with the terms of its security contract in Iraq, according to an audit by the office set up to investigate mismanagement of reconstruction funds. Aegis Defense Services, which received the largest contract of all the private armies operating in Iraq despite a highly questionable background, failed to comply with regulations established to ensure a basic order within mercenary oufits.
Additional audits prepared by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and delivered to Congress last week additionally show that American officials poorly maintained dozens of relatively small reconstruction contracts collectively worth more than $184 million. They also reveal that American managers of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), an account consisting primarily of Iraqi oil revenues, failed to keep track of at least $96.6 million in funds earmarked for reconstruction and relief projects in south-central Iraq.
SEE COMPLETE ARTICLE:
Contractor, Army Office Fell Short, Audit Finds Report Examines Reconstruction in Iraq
By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page E01
The findings mean "there is no assurance that Aegis is providing the best possible safety and security for government and reconstruction contractor personnel and facilities," according to auditors with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Aegis, an almost three-year-old London-based firm whose chief executive provided military assistance to warring factions in Asian and African conflicts in the late 1990s, received its Iraqi security contract last May. With the award, Aegis was put in charge of providing armed bodyguards for the Army's Project and Contracting Office, which oversees reconstruction projects, as well as coordinating security for 10 other prime contractors in Iraq.
An Aegis spokeswoman responded to the audit with a statement noting that "the auditors found that Aegis was generally in compliance with the terms of the contract," and, "As a result of our performance to date our contract has been formally extended for a further year." The original contract was for one year, with options to extend it for two more.
SEE COMPLETE ARTICLE:
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