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Thread: Inquiry into secret guns-for-Iraq deal

  1. #1
    Partridge Guest

    Inquiry into secret guns-for-Iraq deal

    Inquiry into secret guns-for-Iraq deal
    The Times

    A British deal to equip the Iraqi Security Forces and army with Italian-made pistols without telling Coalition partners in Rome is being investigated by prosecutors in Italy.

    More than 20,000 Beretta-made weapons were transported from Italy to Britain then sent on to Baghdad and Basra for distribution to Iraqis.

    The Times has learnt through the Freedom of Information Act that thousands of the Berettas were ordered and paid for by the Ministry of Defence.

    Italian prosecutors have confirmed that they are investigating two shipments of Berettas delivered from Italy to Britain then sent to Iraq.

    The British Government has admitted to Parliament that it did not tell the Italians, who were part of the Coalition, about the re-exportation.

    Newspaper reports suggest that Beretta-type pistols have become available on Iraq’s black market, with some found in insurgents’ hands, a claim denied by the MoD.

    One possible leakage point between Iraq’s new authorities and rebel fighters has emerged in a parliamentary answer. The MoD has admitted that it targeted members of a Shia militia to join the Iraqi Security Forces after Saddam’s overthrow.

    Italy has severe laws on arms exports. Beretta believed the Iraqi police, not the army, were to be the end user. The pistols were exported for the Coalition to use as “civilian weapons”, not “military weapons”. There are different versions of the pistol which for technical reasons are, under Italian law, classified differently. Those sent to Iraq were civilian models.

    Oxfam, which campaigns against weapons proliferation, accused Britain of failing to impose adequate safeguards to stop pistols falling into the wrong hands; but the MoD said: “There is no evidence of Iraqi insurgents using Beretta semi-automatic pistols.”

    The flooding of Iraq with Berettas came as the insurgency grew and European public opinion hardened against the invasion. The Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq immediately after the fall of Saddam, needed small arms and ammunition for the new security forces, police, and ministries of oil and justice.

    Five companies, all from the US, won a competition to supply the order. Taos Industries, an Alabama company, was asked to provide 20,878 pistols.

    It turned to Super Vision International, a British arms dealer, which arranged to buy refurbished 9mm Beretta semi-automatics formerly used by the Caribinieri.

    Chris Bradbury, Super Vision’s managing director, said that the agreement had been made with the knowledge and approval of the Government at all stages. “Before I start a deal or negotiation on restricted goods, I have to get the OK from the Department for Trade and Industry,” he said. “It was a completely heavily controlled operation.” Although Mr Bradbury had full British approval to import and export the pistols, he had no role in getting clearance for them to leave Italy.

    Helston Gunsmith, of Cornwall, took responsibility for handling the weapons when they “touched down briefly in the UK”. Chris Price, the gunsmiths’ director, said: “This transaction has to receive the sanction of the Government and is carefully controlled by Customs & Excise.”

    Adam Price, Plaid Cymru’s trade spokesman, has tabled a succession of parliamentary questions about what he described as a “strange” deal.

    Franceso Piantoni, a deputy prosecutor at the Brescia state prosecutor’s office, told The Times they were investigating the two shipments to Britain.

    The Beretta
    # The gun was first made in 1526 and today’s owner, Ugo, is a descendent of the original gunsmith

    # The maker has supplied the US military with more than 500,000 sidearms since 1985

    # French gendarmes and Spain’s Guardia Civil use the pistols

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    Iranian militiamen were brought in by Britain
    The TImes

    Militiamen from an Iranian-backed force were deliberately recruited by Britain to join the new Iraqi security services after Saddam Hussein was overthrown, the Government has admitted.

    The sectarian Badr organisation, trained in exile by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, is suspected of violently pursuing its own agenda after being allowed to enlist in national units. John Reid, the Defence Secretary, disclosed in a Commons written answer to the Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price that it had been official policy to welcome the Shia gunmen. “Following the end of the conflict in Iraq, the Coalition Provision Authority sought to reintegrate militia members into civil society,” Mr Reid said. “This process included members of the Badr organisation, formerly known as the Badr Corps, among others.”

    Sunnis have accused the Badr organisation of torturing prisoners, a claim rejected by the Shia-dominated Government. Bayar Jabor, the Interior Minister, was a member of the militia. The organisation’s stronghold is southern Iraq, where British troops have been based since the war.

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