Monday, November 28, 2005

Back from Hiatus: Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq (The Trophy Video)

First of all, welcome back to the apologies for the extended holiday hiatus, but I barely had time to think this past weekend, much less update. The Junkheap will be returning to its normal schedule beginning today. Thanks to those who continued to check, and again, I apologize for the lack of updates. We'll get the ball rolling again.

I thought this was a suitable story to get the ball rolling again: a video (seen here) has surfaced of British contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers to the tune of Elvis Presley's Mystery Train.

Okay, maybe those vehicles really were trying to ram their convoy. Maybe. But the video makes it appear as if those vehicles are simply driving along and getting strafed by a bunch of assholes. The main issue is that we really have nothing to go on except for the word of the people involved, and they have absolutely no reason, whatsoever, to tell the truth, as the truth would damage their contract. They have no motive to be honest or upfront. Hell, it's probably better for business if they're known to be, by the people with money, hardasses with no regard for morality.

'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 27/11/2005)

A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

The road has acquired the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the world because of the number of suicide attacks and ambushes carried out by insurgents against coalition troops. In one four-month period earlier this year it was the scene of 150 attacks.

In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.

There are no clues as to the shooter but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley's Mystery Train, the music which accompanies the video.

Last night a spokesman for defence firm Aegis Defence Services - set up in 2002 by Lt Col Tim Spicer, a former Scots Guards officer - confirmed that the company was carrying out an internal investigation to see if any of their employees were involved.

The Foreign Office has also confirmed that it is investigating the contents of the video in conjunction with Aegis, one of the biggest security companies operating in Iraq. The company was recently awarded a £220 million security contract in Iraq by the United States government. Aegis conducts a number of security duties and helped with the collection of ballot papers in the country's recent referendum

Lt Col Spicer, 53, rose to public prominence in 1998 when his private military company Sandlines International was accused of breaking United Nations sanctions by selling arms to Sierra Leone.

The video first appeared on the website The website states: "This site does not belong to Aegis Defence Ltd, it belongs to the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company." The clips have been removed.

The website also contains a message from Lt Col Spicer, which reads: "I am concerned about media interest in this site and I remind everyone of their contractual obligation not to speak to or assist the media without clearing it with the project management or Aegis London.

"Refrain from posting anything which is detrimental to the company since this could result in the loss or curtailment of our contract with resultant loss for everybody."

Posted by crimnos @ 8:56 AM

Read or Post a Comment

that was awful.

Posted by Blogger Jessica @ 9:56 AM #


If I could make a side point: Private security companies = mercenaries. Why isn't this pointed out more often? I think we give them too much credit by calling them "private security;" in any other war (or if our media weren't so complacent), we'd call them what they are.

Posted by Blogger alice_pants @ 11:41 AM #

I couldn't even watch the video.

Posted by Blogger mikevotes @ 2:49 PM #
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