Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

U.S. contractors face dangers in Iraq

American civilians working for the U.S. government and Embassy are targeted by militants and hounded by Iraqi police.

The raids are believed to be under the supervision of Maliki’s son, Ahmed, according to Iraqi and Western sources, as Iraqi officials seek to regain control of the Green Zone.

Ned Parker Reporting from Baghdad for The LA Times  June 24, 2011

Stephen Everhart was brought to Iraq by the U.S. Agency for International Development to assist the University of Baghdad’s business college in qualifying for international accreditation.

He was killed Thursday outside the gates of the university when a powerful bomb commonly used by Shiite Muslim militias detonated.

The attack highlighted the precarious position of contractors for the U.S. government and Embassy as the American military prepares to leave the country.

Militia groups, some with ties to the Iraqi government, are intent on hitting U.S. diplomats, soldiers and contractors employed by the embassy. And it is no longer clear how far Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and his security forces can go in reining the groups.

Civilian contractors working on projects to help build the country’s democracy are also coming under intense pressure from the Iraqi police and army. In the last month, there have been at least four raids by the army and police on USAID contractors’ compounds in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

The deputy head of a USAID program was detained for about a week by the Iraqi security forces; he was released Thursday.

In part, the harsh treatment now is baggage from eight years when Americans had virtual immunity from Iraqi rules, and Iraqi officials came to resent civilian and security contractors who were seldom, if ever, held accountable.

Please read the entire article at the LA Times

June 24, 2011 - Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, USAID | , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. This article fails to mention what happens during these raids. Yes they are punitive to a certain extent but they are ALL thieving raids, endorsed by military commanders loyal to the government. Everything of personal value is stolen that is found. Cash, watches, cameras, cell phones….everything. The raiders smash things they can’t take like TV’s, AC’s and even toilet bowls. A percentage of the loot is parsed out to the commanders afterwards. On every occasion, during these raids, workers have been beaten, slapped around and several have been put through mock executions, all meant to intimidate and force the workers to quit. Many do. The State Dept knows about these raids but refuses to admit it because they are powerless to stop them. How do I know these things are true? I worked for the State Dept in Iraq and witnessed the aftermath of two such raids first hand.

    Comment by Rico | June 24, 2011 | Reply

  2. This clearly shows that the Iraqi government is either to too weak and impidant to put a stop to these troble making militant groups or they are purposely turning their heads to what is going on.
    Personally if it was up to me, I pull out every American form Iraq and let them deal with their problems for themselves.
    More has to be done to protect all Americans in Iraq. Plus the treaty we signed should be re-examined.

    Comment by American Citizen | June 25, 2011 | Reply

  3. I have had the privilege of experiencing more than one raid throughout my time in Iraq while working as a contractor for the U.S. Government. I would like to add that the task force consists of Iraq police and military. During the raid they storm in, spread out and take all phones, all pass ports, shut off Internet connections and cameras and then proceed to look for money and anything of value. These men pretty much act on their own, showing no identification despite the threat of kidnapping and when asked to provide a point of contact they refuse. As a result they are able to get away with a lot. After they are done looting, the men surround the contractors and force a manager, at gun point, to sign a hand written statement written by the lieutenant in charge stating that they did not take anything. The statement is written in Arabic and verbally “translated” by one of the men. If the contractor refuses, he/she is threatened and told that it must be signed or else. They give you less than one minute to look and see what is missing for the 2-3 hours they spent going through everything and taking what they could.

    The raids normally happen at night and often they hit all locations at once to limit the time personnel have to communicate what is happening at their locations. They act like they are looking for something to justify their reason for the raid. When they do not find anything, they take personnel into custody for days without allowing anyone to see them or speak to them.

    The only recourse you have is to file a complaint at the police station, but how do you do that when even the police are involved. The concern then becomes, will the complaint hurt the personnel in custody and is it best to file after the they are returned? However, they will not acknowledge having anyone under custody unless a complaint is filed where by a legal representative can act on.

    By law they are allowed to detain people for 24 hours and then turn them into the police station. However, often this does not happen and the people are kept for days or weeks. Paperwork is later filed and backdated.

    Throughout the experience the distinct feeling is that they could not care less about finding something incriminating, all they are focused on is taking valuable property and terrorizing people. Often you can see member of the raid team laughing and making inappropriate comments to those detained during the raid.

    These raids can be called on by any local with a friend or family member with connections to the right people in the police or military willing to take their statement. Here is an example, a few years ago a raid was call on a company in the IZ by an Iraqi National. Why? Because this person did not receive an invitation to a gathering. It is a shame that a raid can be called just like that, by anyone willing to file a false report, risking the lives of foreign and local contractors working together.

    Comment by Contractor | December 5, 2011 | Reply


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