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Billions in graft behind Baghdad kidnappings
Billions in graft behind Baghdad kidnappings

Meena Muhammed, Maggie O'Kane and Guy Grandjean

August 1, 2009
AN INVESTIGATION into the kidnapping of five Britons in Iraq has uncovered evidence of possible collusion by Iraqi government officials and a possible motive – to keep secret the whereabouts of billions of dollars in embezzled funds.
A former high-level Iraqi intelligence operative and a current senior government minister, who has been negotiating directly with the hostage-takers, told investigators from The Guardian that the kidnapping of Peter Moore and his four bodyguards in 2007 was not a simple snatch by a band of militants but a sophisticated operation, almost certainly with inside help. Only Mr Moore is thought to be still alive.
Witnesses to the extraordinary operation that led to the abductions said superiors had warned them to keep quiet.
‘‘This operation was on a state level, not al-Qaeda. Only the state has the capability to carry this out,’’ one source said.
There was a sixth Westerner working with Mr Moore, an information technology specialist, at the time of the kidnapping. The man narrowly avoided being captured by hiding in a lavatory at the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, where the abductions took place.
Over the past 10 months interviews have been conducted with senior Iraqi figures and witnesses as well as the former British military officer who investigated the kidnapping for the men’s employers.
Their accounts allege the hostage-takers had contacts in the Iraqi Government, and that Ministry of Defence officials warned off witnesses to the kidnapping. The investigation has also uncovered compelling evidence that the one of the motives behind the kidnappings was the nature of the work the hostages were doing in fighting huge corruption in Iraq’s ministries.
Mr Moore was employed to install a computer tracking system that would have followed billions of dollars of oil and foreign-aid money through the Finance Ministry. The ‘‘Iraq financial management information system’’ was about to go online at the time of the kidnapping.
The intelligence source said: ‘‘Many people don’t want a high level of corruption to be revealed.
‘‘Remember this is the information technology centre [at the Ministry of Finance], this is the place where all the money to do with Iraq and all Iraq’s financial matters is housed.’’
The bodies of two British security guards, Jason Cresswell and Jason Swindlehurst, were handed over to the British embassy in Baghdad in June. On Wednesday the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said the remaining two guards, Alan McMenemy and Alec MacLachlan, were ‘‘very likely’’ dead.
Avril Sweeney, Mr Moore’s mother, said of the Guardian investigation: ‘‘This is the only thing that makes perfect sense – the only thing that has ever made perfect sense since the kidnap began … There is no way that 40 armed policemen would be able to storm into that building and take my son.
‘‘This was all planned. Everything has been so tightly controlled. I appeal to the Iraqi Government to bring about the safe release of my son.’’
The British Foreign Office said: ‘‘We have never ruled out the possibility that the hostage-takers may have received advance notice or other assistance from sympathisers.’’
Guardian News & Media
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
This feels like another layer of the onion skin being peeled back, but I doubt it's the entire story.

We have one, possibly two (if the story about the guy hiding in the toilet is correct), IT consultants being protected by four bodyguards.

Two bodyguards per teccie.

Hmmm - these IT consultants are clearly not the "turn off your caps lock" type computer technicians. They were almost certainly involved in sensitive and important work.

It's also always been obvious, on reading between the lines, that they were kidnapped by Iraqi government-backed militia.

All of this is the real reason for the British government demanding media silence from the families and for back-channel negotiations taking place involving prisoner releases.

If this is about Iraqi political corruption, then the IT technician is unlikely to be released alive.

If this is about a deeper level of corruption and collusion, involving for instance private corporations creaming off the "reconstruction" money - remember there was effectively no audit trail for the billions of dollars poured into Iraq - then again the IT technician will either be executed or sworn to silence.

It's certainly a dirty buisiness.
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war

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