Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Civilian Contractor Michael Copeland, DynCorp dies of unknown causes, Iraqi’s detain body

Colbert family pleads to have loved one’s body returned to U.S.
KXII News OK  June 4, 2012
A Colbert family is inconsolable at the loss of their young son and husband working overseas in Iraq. Now, they’ve received even more devastating news.

Mike Copeland spoke with his son, Michael, for the last time Friday night. About 12 hours later, he was told his son had died. On top of dealing with their loss, they said the Iraqi government will not release his body. And now, they’re struggling with the U.S. Government to bring Michael home.

“They came to the door and knocked on the door but I couldn’t open it, because I knew that if I did my life would be changed forever.”

Angela Copeland found out Saturday that her husband, Michael, was dead of unknown causes.

“Sure enough I opened the door and they came in and told me they found Michael deceased in his living quarters,” she said.

Michael Copeland worked for DynCorp International doing aircraft maintenance in Iraq for less than a week before he died.
His father, Mike, said after the company notified them about Michael’s death, they were told his body will remain in Iraq.

“I don’t look for us to go to war over a thing like this but I see no excuse at all for the Iraqi government to hold his body. That doesn’t make sense to us,” he said.

“Of course I felt sad, but mostly I felt angry because I know for a fact that’s not something that Michael would agree with. We as a family don’t agree with that,” Angela said.

Mike Copeland said he contacted the State Department and DynCorp for help, but was told that because U.S. military presence has ceased in Iraq the Iraqi government is in charge.

“Everyone I’ve spoke with is always sorry for our loss, but they say there’s nothing they can do. I find it very difficult to believe that my government…there’s nothing they can do to bring my son home from Iraq?” Asked Copeland.

“If someone comes into the United States and they were to die, it would be the same thing. We’re basically under the Iraqi law.”

U.S. Congressman Dan Boren said they are working with the State Department to get Michael’s body back to the U.S. but it may take a long time because it’s the first death in Iraq since the troops were pulled out.

“We’re actually looking at three different options: one by a U.S. Citizen, one by the Iraqis but are having a U.S. Citizen watch and the other is to bring the body back to the U.S. to do an autopsy,” said Boren.

“He was a good man and we loved him. And we don’t feel like he’s being treated fairly by his country that he served and we want them to take steps to bring him home. We want them to bring him home,” said Mike Copeland.

“We’re not doing good. Because not only are we having to deal with the loss but, we’re having to deal with the battle to get him back home,” said Angela Copeland

DynCorp International released a statement saying:

“We are currently waiting for the Iraqi Government to approve the release of his remains for transport back to the U.S., where the U.S. Government will conduct an autopsy.”

Congressman Boren said the State Department found no signs of foul play while investigating Copeland’s death.

The family is asking the public to help them bring Michael’s remains back home by contacting state representatives

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractors Held, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Following U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq, Government Contractors Facing Tough Challenges from New Immigration Requirements

by Carson Burnham and Bonnie Puckett at Martindale  May 29, 2012

The United States’ presence in transitional Iraq resulted in many opportunities for U.S. government contractors. Since the early 2000s, a significant number of U.S. government contractors have engaged individuals to perform work in Iraq, and sponsored visas for those individuals. In recent years, the legality of these arrangements largely was governed by an agreement between the United States and the Iraqi transitional government, called the “Status of Forces Agreement” (SOFA). Corresponding with the timing of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, SOFA expired at midnight on December 31, 2011. With this expiration came significant rule changes. In particular, any foreign company wishing to sponsor visas or work permits for foreign nationals working in Iraq must establish an entity in Iraq with a physical presence in the country. The implications of noncompliance are significant. The Iraqi government has even detained individuals without proper visas upon attempting to exit the country.

Background

The January 1, 2009 SOFA—concluded as a U.S. executive agreement and approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers—allowed government contractors to enter and leave Iraq easily, without risk of violating immigration rules. Specifically, SOFA’s Article 14 enabled members of the Armed Forces and civilian employees working for the U.S. military to enter and leave Iraq through specified official entry/exit points merely by displaying identification cards and U.S.-issued travel orders. While not directly addressing immigration for government contractor employees, SOFA’s permissive treatment of Armed Forces members and employees led to similarly permissive application of the requirements for U.S. government contractor employees.

Almost immediately after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the corresponding expiration of SOFA, Iraqi authorities began detaining foreign contractors at various checkpoints and at the airport, citing improper paperwork such as invalid or expired visas, weapons permits, work permits, and route authorizations, many of which the government refused to renew. With little warning, the lax immigration requirements under SOFA were replaced by the more common requirement in the global arena that foreign nationals must have current work permits tied to a locally-registered business entity that is sponsoring the employees.

Sources estimate that hundreds of individuals have been detained for periods of 24 to 96 hours or more, sometimes including severe interrogation. Some contractors have been ordered to leave Iraq within 10 days due to new limitations on visas. Many government contractors were utterly unprepared for this sudden crackdown, as immigration requirements in a post-SOFA world were not clear at the time of SOFA’s expiration. Some commentators also have surmised that Iraqi government authorities felt compelled to assert their newfound sovereignty against mistrusted contractors, some of whom reportedly mistreated the Iraqi population during the occupation.

The result? U.S. government contractors are now on notice that Federal Iraq will strictly monitor the immigration status of their employees. The penalties for noncompliance include detention of employees working in and attempting to exit Iraq.

Recommendations

As a first step, all U.S. government contractors should promptly review their staff’s travel documentation to ensure that it has not expired or is otherwise invalid. To comply with the new state of the law, it is also recommended that U.S. government contractors that do not already have a subsidiary based in Iraq for the purpose of sponsoring employees for business permits take immediate steps to create one. Requirements for an LLC include, but are not limited to:

  • A business name, which must be in Arabic and have an Arabic meaning;
  • A designated managing director, and a copy of his or her passport (if foreign) or identification (if Iraqi);
  • Initial capital of one million Iraqi Dinar (approximately $850) in an Iraqi bank;
  • Lease agreement for the company’s location in Federal Iraq, which the authorities likely will inspect;
  • A designated agent for service of process and filings with the Registrar of Companies; and
  • A resolution of the Board of Directors of the parent company establishing the Iraqi subsidiary, which meets the requirements of the Registrar of Companies.

Additional requirements exist for commercial agents and retailers. The entire process takes approximately four months to complete. Once the Iraqi entity is established, it must comply with all relevant laws in securing work permits and visas, which may vary by region. An individual authorized to work in one region of Iraq may not be permitted to work in another region.

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May 30, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN, Norwegian Peoples Aid and Mechem South African Demining Workers abducted/arrested in South Sudan

Sudan arrests foreigners in disputed border region  April 29, 2012

John Sorbo, mine clearing expert working for the Norwegian People's Aid organization, one of the three foreigners arrested in the disputed Heglig border area, exits a plane in Khartoum. (REUTERS)

Sudan said it had arrested a Briton, a Norwegian and a South African on Saturday, accusing them of illegally entering a disputed oil-producing border area to spy for its enemy South Sudan.

South Sudanese officials denied the allegations and said the men were working with the United Nations and aid groups clearing mines and had got lost in the remote territory close to the boundary between the two countries.

Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled said the three were arrested in Heglig – the scene of recent fighting between Sudan and South Sudan – travelling with a South Sudanese soldier in vehicles carrying military equipment.

“It is now confirmed without any doubt that South Sudan used the help of foreigners in their attack on Heglig. These foreigners were doing military work such as spying out the areas … They had military equipment … They have a military background,” Sawarmi said.

The group had been flown to Khartoum, he added.

A Reuters witness saw four men arriving on a civilian plane at Khartoum’s military airport.

One of the men, a Westerner, was wearing a t-shirt marked with the slogan “Norwegian People’s Aid. Mine Action South Africa”. Reporters were not allowed to talk to the men who were swiftly driven away in an unmarked white van.

Agency France Presse Canada  April 29, 2012

KHARTOUM – A South African demining company on Sunday said two of its workers were abducted by the Sudanese military while on a UN landmine clearance contract in South Sudan.

Ashley Williams, CEO of state-owned Mechem, said its employees, a South African and a local South Sudanese, were abducted with a British UN employee and a Norwegian.

Williams rejected suggestions by the Sudanese army spokesman that the men were working in support of South Sudan in its “aggression” against the north.

“It’s humanitarian work so the story of them being military advisers and this type of thing is completely and utterly nonsense and not true,” said Williams.

“We are doing humanitarian landmine clearance on a UN contract and our members have full UN immunity. The abduction took place well within South Sudan territory,” he told AFP, saying the group were travelling south between two UN bases.

“Then they grabbed them and drove back to Heglig with them where they then said they’ve arrested them in this disputed area while they weren’t there at all.”

A team remained in the area, which the United Nations would bring out with protection over fears of similar action, Williams said.

Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad on Saturday said the group were captured within Sudan’s borders in the tense Heglig oil area.

“This confirms what we said before, that South Sudan in its aggression against Heglig was supported by foreign experts,” he told reporters after the four were flown to the capital Khartoum.

“We captured them inside Sudan’s borders, in the Heglig area, and they were collecting war debris for investigation,” Saad said.

He added that all four had military backgrounds, and were accompanied by military equipment and a military vehicle. He did not elaborate.

In the most serious fighting since the South’s independence, Juba’s troops occupied Sudan’s main oil region of Heglig for 10 days, a move which coincided with Sudanese air strikes against the South.

Sudan declared on April 20 that its troops had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord.

Jan Ledang, country director for the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) mission in South Sudan, identified one of the captives as its employee John Sorbo.

“It’s impossible that they were in Heglig – they were in Pariang” about a 90-minute drive from Heglig in the South’s Unity state, Ledang said.

They were doing follow-up demining work in the area, he added.

The four were on a de-mining mission “and one of them was from the UN”, said Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan

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April 29, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Legal Jurisdictions, Mine Clearance, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Britons freed in Afghanistan after weapons arrest

BBC News  March 20, 2012

Two Britons arrested in Afghanistan in early January for carrying unlicensed guns have been released without charge

The unidentified men were in a vehicle with a local interpreter and driver when they were stopped east of Kabul.

The private security contractors, among thousands of guards operating in the country, had been held in Kabul prison.

Officials reportedly found a number of AK-47 assault rifles – one of the most commonly used weapons in Afghanistan – which did not have serial numbers.

Kabul police had called on the men’s employers to explain why they were transporting the guns without proper documentation.

All private security companies must buy weapons with serial numbers through the interior ministry, but, according to local police and intelligence officials at the time of the arrests, the weapons the men were carrying had been purchased on the black market.

Afghan sources confirmed the release of the men to the BBC. The Foreign Office has not commented on the case.

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Kabul says President Karzai has accused foreign guards of undermining security in the country and controversial moves are now under way to replace them with Afghan forces

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March 20, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Man Captured by Militia in Iraq Released to UN

Associated Press  March 18, 2012

Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops.

The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz.

Speaking calmly and tripping over Arabic names in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.

“It was explained to me that this is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war,” he said at the press conference that was held for Iraqi media.

He gave scant details of what he described as a “kidnapping,” or how he was treated while captured

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Iraq | , , , , | Leave a comment

Homs, Syria: Assad Allies Charge Mossad, CIA, Blackwater Link

International Business Times  March 8, 2012

The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs.

Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 Arab and Western gunmen along with Israeli, American and European-made weapons were seized in the rebellious Homs neighborhood of Baba Amro when government forces overwhelmed and routed the rebel Free Syrian Army last weekend. It said mercenaries of Xe Services LL, formerly known as Blackwater, and Academi were also apprehended

The site quoted one predicting: “Huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days, such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups follows, and the sides that supervised the operations.”

Salim Harba, a Syrian security expert, told Al-Manar that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf — specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia — intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

He added, “Qatar had also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements.”

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Private Security Contractor, Syria | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Appeal Won’t Interrupt Nepali ‘Slavery’ Case

Courthouse News  March 7, 2012

HOUSTON (CN) – A contractor accused of trafficking Nepali laborers into Iraq to staff Al Asad Air Base cannot seek an interim appeal, a federal judge ruled.
In a 2008 federal RICO complaint, Nepali families claimed that U.S. military contractors duped 13 men into indentured servitude in Iraq.

With promises of a $500 monthly salary, many of the men believed they would be working at a luxury hotel in Jordan. But they later learned that they were actually on their way to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to the complaint. At that point, the large brokerage fees they owed allegedly kept the men from turning back for home.
Insurgents from the Ansar al-Sunna Army captured 12 of the men in August 2004 as they traveled in the front of an unsecured 17-car caravan along the Amman-to-Baghdad highway in Iraq’s Anbar province, the families say. The 13th man, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was in a separate car and evaded capture, according to the complaint.
When the insurgents executed the captives, international news stations aired the footage of their deaths, reaching the men’s families in Nepal, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit against the military contractors, Daoud & Partners and Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), was removed from the Central District of California to the Southern District of Texas.
On Dec. 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison dismissed some of the claims against Daoud from the families, as well as some of the cross-claims that the company faced from KBR.
The 48-page order upheld personal jurisdiction over Daoud, but dismissed negligence and false-imprisonment claims by Gurung, the lone survivor

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March 7, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractors Held, Human Trafficking, KBR, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , | Leave a comment

USAID contractor work in Cuba detailed

AP IMPACT by Desmond Butler Associated Press  February 12, 2012

Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.

The purpose, according to an Associated Press review of Gross’ reports, was to set up uncensored satellite Internet service for Cuba’s small Jewish community.

The operation was funded as democracy promotion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.

Cuban President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Gross was sentenced last March to 15 years in prison for seeking to “undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba. U.S. officials say he did nothing wrong and was just carrying out the normal mission of USAID.

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February 12, 2012 Posted by | Central America, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, USAID | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helpers in a hostile world: the risk of aid work grows

Some 242 aid workers were killed in 2010, up from 91 a decade before. Is ‘humanitarian space’ shrinking, or are aid groups spreading out to more conflict zones than before?

Christian Science Monitor February 10, 2012

American contractor Greg Ock recounts how he was kidnapped, while driving to the clinic where he works, and held hostage in Nigeria. John Bazemore/AP

Aid workers may be an idealistic sort, but they’re not naive. They know the risks of crossing oceans or pressing through to remote areas to build tent cities, run feeding stations, or treat the sick in what are by definition the most dangerous and least hospitable corners of the planet.

In the decade since Sept. 11, those risks have only increased as members of the US military and other government agencies have joined the ranks of those doing humanitarian aid work.

In 2010, some 242 aid workers were killed, up from 91 a decade before, according to a survey by Humanitarian Outcomes, underscoring how many attacks on aid workers have become intentional, rather than a side effect of war. It’s an environment in which the Navy SEALs may be called upon for help, as they were in the recent rescue of two aid workers from the grip of Somali kidnapping gangs.

Yet while individual cases – in a Yemeni town, a region of Sudan, a district of Somalia – may give the impression that aid groups are on the retreat, the reverse is true. Humanitarian aid budgets by donor nations have grown 10-fold between 1998 and 2008. And while the work has become much more dangerous, aid workers are honing their ability to negotiate with unsavory regimes and find new paths to achieve traditional humanitarian goals.

Among the first aid groups to go into conflict zones or disaster areas, and the last to leave, is Doctors Without Borders, known primarily by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières. But even MSF has had its staffers expelled from Sudan and Sri Lanka and pulled its staff from aid camps in some of the neediest sections of Somalia and the northern Kenyan border because of attacks in recent years.

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February 10, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped, Contractors Missing, Humanitarian Assistance, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colombian rebels to free 6 hostages, urging swaps

Among FARC prisoners Marquez named as part of a possible swap was Simon Trinidad, the highest-ranking rebel prisoner, who was jailed in the United States for kidnapping three U.S. military contractors who were rescued in 2008.

BOGOTA (Reuters) – A Colombian FARC rebel commander named six military and police captives the group pledged to free in the coming weeks and proposed a constitutional change to allow the exchange of jailed guerrillas for hostages.

Ivan Marquez, in a video released on Wednesday, called the upcoming release “an act of peace.” The bearded commander, wearing olive-green fatigues and seated at a desk in what he said were the mountains of Colombia, is a member of the drug-funded group’s seven-member governing secretariat.

The video was the latest in a series of peace messages from the nearly 50-year-old Latin American insurgent group since troops killed its leader late last year, and as President Juan Manuel Santos comes under pressure to seek an end to the war.

The six captives are some of the 11 members of the armed forces that the FARC – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – has held for more than a decade. It also holds about 300 civilians.

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January 25, 2012 Posted by | Central America, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq Contractors Face Difficulties

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Politics, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flexing Muscle, Baghdad Detains U.S. Contractors

“While private organizations are often able to resolve low-level disputes and irregularities, this issue is beyond our ability to resolve,” the International Stability Operations Association, a Washington-based group that represents more than 50 companies and aid organizations that work in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief zones, said in a letter on Sunday to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Doug Brooks, president of the organization, said in a telephone interview that the number of civilian contractors who have been detained was in the “low hundreds.” He added in an e-mail on Sunday, “Everyone is impacted, but the roots have more to do with political infighting than any hostility to the U.S.”

The New York Times  January 15, 2012

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities have detained a few hundred foreign contractors in recent weeks, industry officials say, including many Americans who work for the United States Embassy, in one of the first major signs of the Iraqi government’s asserting its sovereignty as a result of the American troop withdrawal last month

The detentions have occurred largely at the airport in Baghdad and at checkpoints around the capital after the Iraqi authorities raised questions about the contractors’ documents, including visas, weapons permits, and authorizations to drive certain routes. Although no formal charges have been filed, the detentions have lasted from a few hours to nearly three weeks.

The crackdown comes amid other moves by the Iraqi government to take over functions that had been performed by the United States military and to claim areas of the country it had controlled. In the final weeks of the military withdrawal, the son of Iraq’s prime minister began evicting Western companies and contractors from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which had been the heart of the United States military operation for much of the war.

Just after the last American troops left in December, the Iraqis stopped issuing and renewing many badges, weapons licenses and other authorizations. The restrictions created a curious sequence of events in which contractors were being detained for having expired documents that the government would not renew.

The Iraqi authorities have also imposed new limitations on visas, a new twist on a longstanding issue for foreigners in Iraq in which the rules for gaining approval appear to change every few months. In some recent cases, contractors have been told they have 10 days to leave Iraq or face arrest in what some industry officials call a form of controlled harassment.

Earlier this month, Iraqi authorities kept scores of contractors penned up at Baghdad’s international airport for nearly a week until their visa disputes were resolved. Industry officials said more than 100 foreigners were detained; American officials acknowledged the detainments but would not put a number on them.

Latif Rashid, a senior adviser to the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, and a former minister of water, said in an interview that the Iraqis’ deep mistrust of security contractors had led the government to strictly monitor them. “We have to apply our own rules now,” he said.

Private contractors are integral to postwar Iraq’s economic development and security, foreign businessmen and American officials say, but they remain a powerful symbol of American might, with some Iraqis accusing them of running roughshod over the country.

An image of contractors as trigger-happy mercenaries who were above the law was seared into the minds of Iraqis after several violent episodes involving private sector workers, chief among them the 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square when military contractors for Blackwater killed 17 civilians.

Iraq’s oil sector alone, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the government’s budget, relies heavily on tens of thousands of foreign employees. The United States Embassy employs 5,000 contractors to protect its 11,000 employees and to train the Iraqi military to operate tanks, helicopters and weapons systems that the United States has sold them.

The United States had been providing much of the accreditation for contractors to work in Iraq, but after the military withdrawal, that role shifted to the Iraqi bureaucracy around the time when the government was engulfed in a political crisis and when Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, fearing a coup, was moving tanks into the Green Zone.

The delays for visa approvals have disrupted the daily movement of supplies and personnel around Iraq, prompting formal protests from dozens of companies operating in Iraq. And they have raised deeper questions about how the Maliki government intends to treat foreign workers and how willing foreign companies will be to invest here.

“While private organizations are often able to resolve low-level disputes and irregularities, this issue is beyond our ability to resolve,” the International Stability Operations Association, a Washington-based group that represents more than 50 companies and aid organizations that work in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief zones, said in a letter on Sunday to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

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January 15, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

British Private Security Contractors arrested carrying AK-47s in Kabul

AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) Detained members of Garda World private security company are seen near their confiscated arms during a news event in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012. Two British nationals along with their Afghan colleagues from Garda World private security company

Update by Washington Post:  Statement by GardaWorld

The firm said Thursday that it was cooperating with the Afghan investigation. A statement indicated it did not own the AK-47s but was in the process of buying them through legal channels.

“The weapons in question were being taken to be tested at a firing range before being purchased and properly licensed by GardaWorld,” the company said. “We fully comply with all laws and regulations in our Afghanistan operations and are making every effort to work closely with the Afghan authorities to rectify the situation as soon as possible.”


Update New York Times

Both Britons work for a private company that provides security for foreign installations in Kabul, according to an official from Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Telegraph  January 4, 2012

Two British private security contractors have been arrested in Afghanistan after they were stopped by police with 30 AK-47 assault rifles in their vehicle.

The men were buying weapons from two Afghan arms dealers who were arrested at the same time, a private security source close to the situation told the Daily Telegraph.

The four men were transporting the weapons to a range to test fire them before the deal was finalised, the source said.

Mohammed Zahair, of the Kabul police, said the men were stopped as they drove from the airport towards the Jalalabad road.

“They were caught on the road at a check point,” he added. “They are in custody and our investigations are continuing.”

Ayoub Salangi, the chief of police in Kabul, said some of the weapons did not have serial numbers or the numbers had been removed.

“We asked the company to show their licence but they are yet to do so,” he added.

It is understood the firm claims that paperwork was filed with the Ministry of the Interior notifying them of the deal.

“The British Embassy is in contact with the Afghan authorities and stands ready to provide consular assistance,” the spokesman added.

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January 4, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, G4S, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Britons detained in Afghanistan: official

Update from the Telegraph

The men were buying weapons from two Afghan arms dealers who were arrested at the same time, a private security source close to the situation told the Daily Telegraph.

The four men were transporting the weapons to a range to test fire them before the deal was finalised, the source said.

Mohammed Zahair, of the Kabul police, said the men were stopped as they drove from the airport towards the Jalalabad road.

“They were caught on the road at a check point,” he added. “They are in custody and our investigations are continuing.”

https://civiliancontractors.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/british-private-security-contractors-arrested-carrying-ak-47s-in-kabul/

AFP via Yahoo News  January 3, 2012

Two British nationals have been detained in the Afghan capital in possession of dozens of AK-47 assault rifles with the serial numbers erased, a government official said Tuesday.

“Two British nationals along with their two Afghan colleagues, a driver and a interpreter, were today detained carrying 30 AKs. The weapons’ registration numbers were removed from them,” the official, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media, told AFP.

Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi confirmed that four people had been detained while carrying weapons. He would not disclose their nationality and said the case was under investigation.

The government official who spoke to AFP said the Britons were arrested in an area of Kabul where foreign forces have bases and facilities.

The British embassy said it was “aware of reports that British nationals may have been detained in Kabul”.

“Our consular officials in Kabul are in touch with the relevant Afghan police authorities to seek further information,” a spokesman told AFP.

Afghanistan is home to thousands of foreign private security personnel providing services for foreign troops, diplomatic missions and aid organisations.

A US congressional report last year found that the number of private security personnel working for the US military in Afghanistan rose to 18,919 at the end of 2010, the highest level used in any conflict by the United States.

Around 95 percent of them were Afghans, it added.

But relations with the authorities have deteriorated. President Hamid Karzai accuses the firms of breaking the law and taking business away from Afghans.

Perceptions that those working for security firms are little more than gun-toting mercenaries, roaming the countryside with impunity, have made them deeply unpopular among Afghans

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Do not go to Iraq’ says Mark Fisher of Triple Canopy

 The Fiji Times  January 1, 2012

FORMER soldier and current employee of United States security contractor Triple Canopy Incorporated (TCI), Mark Fisher, who was detained by the Iraqi military for 18 days is warning locals of the dangers associated with employment in the trouble-stricken country.

Mr Fisher said anyone seeking work as a security contractor needed to understand the real dangers of the job and the fact that he and his team were practically abandoned by TCI during their detainment.

“I am never going back there and I urge anyone considering a job as a security contractor to think twice because no amount of money is worth what me and my men went through.

“TCI did not contact my wife to inform her of what had happened.

“It was only after she threatened to go to the media that they formulated a response that basically said TCI officials were in constant contact and visiting us daily, we were being given proper meals and kept in warm and comfortable cells.”

“However, the reality was that we were fed food thrown on the floor and despite it being winter, there were no mattresses, pillows or blankets and at no time were we visited by anyone from the company,” he shared.

Mr Fisher said the sense of abandonment and a real threat of imminent death at any time played havoc with his mind.

“The situation was such that we did not know what was going to happen at any given time and we all had trouble sleeping,” recalled Mr Fisher.

“Luckily one of my team members was a medic and he had a supply of sleeping pills, which we all took at 9pm every night to help us sleep.”

The former Republic of Fiji Military Forces sergeant was heading a team of seven men, which included Americans and Iraqi nationals ù clearing equipment from forward operating bases (FOB) in Iraq when they were detained by Iraqi military forces.

Abandoned by their employer, the team’s release was finally secured on December 27 by US Congressman Peter King.

During their 18 day ordeal at the hands of the Iraqi military, Mr Fisher and his team were ordered to kneel facing a wall with their hands behind their heads by heavily armed soldiers.

“At that point I thought this was it. God, prayers and thoughts of my wife and kids kept me going,” he said.

TCI is contracted by the US State Department to remove sensitive equipment from FOBs after the US military pull out from Iraq.

No comments could be obtained from the company

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January 1, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped, Department of Defense, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Triple Canopy | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments