The Guardian reports: For the past nine years, Iraq’s security forces have tried to stop car bombs with a British-made bomb detector wand that was long ago proven to be fake. A day after a car bomb killed at least 149 people in central Baghdad, the country’s prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, has demanded their withdrawal.
After the single deadliest attack in Iraq this year, Abadi also ordered a renewed corruption investigation into the sale of the devices from 2007-10, which cost Iraq more than £53m and netted the Somerset businessman James McCormick enormous profits, as well as a 10-year jail sentence for fraud.
The cost to the Iraqi public will remain incalculable: the vast majority of the bombs that have killed and maimed at least 4,000 people since 2007 have been driven straight past police or soldiers using the devices at checkpoints.
Their withdrawal follows years of insistence by interior ministry officials, who bought the wands at vastly inflated fees, that they were effective in sensing odours from explosive components.
Near the scene of Sunday’s bomb attack in the suburb of Karrada, which was claimed by Islamic State, Iraqis reacted with derision at the ban, which follows years of complaints from citizens and warnings by both the British government and US military that the wands have no scientific value.
“This should have happened a long time ago,” said Sheikh Qadhim al-Sayyed, standing near the scorched remains of a shopping district in Karrada, just south of the Tigris River. “There isn’t a person in the country who thinks they work. No one here is responsible for what they do. It should be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Corruption is the greatest threat we face.” [Continue reading…]
On JANUARY 23, 2010, the New York Times reported: The director of a British company that supplies bomb detectors to Iraq has been arrested on fraud charges, and the export of the devices has been banned, British government officials confirmed Saturday.
Iraqi officials reacted with fury to the news, noting a series of horrific bombings in the past six months despite the widespread use of the bomb detectors at hundreds of checkpoints in the capital.
“This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device,” said Ammar Tuma, a member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee.
But the Ministry of the Interior has not withdrawn the device from duty, and police officers continue to use them. [Continue reading…]
— Reza H. Akbari (@rezahakbari) June 21, 2016