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Brits planned explosions to blame on alsadr { September 22 2005 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active),5744,16678785%255E2703,00.html

....demonstrators on to the streets to protest that the "British saboteurs" had been planning explosions in the city which would be blamed on followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric. ....The Iraqis displayed photographs of the explosives, weaponry and several bags of equipment allegedly found in the boot of the men's unmarked car when they had been stopped at a checkpoint. ....There were also wigs, Arab headdresses and sophisticated communications equipment.,5744,16678785%255E2703,00.html

SAS fears sparked jail raid
Correspondents in Baghdad
September 22, 2005

BRITISH troops stormed an Iraqi police compound in Basra because they feared that two captured SAS soldiers were in danger of being summarily executed by Shi'ite militiamen.

"The intelligence we had received left us in no doubt these men were going to be killed," one senior military source said.

The men's covert mission and the forceful British reaction to their arrest has provoked popular anger in Basra, a southern city that has been relatively calm compared with Baghdad and Sunni areas of central Iraq controlled by US forces.

Responding to the Basra incident, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iran yesterday not to overplay its hand in southern Iraq, saying its active involvement among the majority Shi'ites there was "not helpful".

"They are interested, they are involved and they are active. And it's not helpful," Mr Rumsfeld said.

The events in Basra caused deep concern within the British Government.

Defence Secretary John Reid raised the prospect that Iraqi police seized the two special forces soldiers in collusion with the Mahdi Army, a banned militia loyal to the Shia firebrand Moqtada al-Sadr. The behaviour of the Iraqi police was worrying and not yet understood, he said.

Fears that hardline Islamic militia are tightening their grip on southern Iraq, with the connivance of Iraqi police, put British Prime Minister Tony Blair under pressure to outline an exit strategy for the 8500 British forces in Iraq.

Tory leader Michael Howard said the Government needed to set out an honest account of the difficulties it faced in Iraq.

"If the Iraqi police are not doing their job properly and if, as appears to have been the case yesterday, they are colluding with extremist militants against British soldiers, that is a cause for very deep concern," he said.

"If, as has been suggested, the Iraqi police has been systematically infiltrated in this way, then we need, perhaps, to set about building a different kind of police force."

Haider al-Ebadi, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari, called the British rescue mission "a very unfortunate development".

But the Iraqi Government released a statement denying that there was any breakdown in relations between Baghdad and the British Government after the arrest of the two soldiers.

"In response to recent events in Basra, the Iraqi Government wants to clarify that there is no crisis - as some media have claimed - between it and the British Government," the statement said.

The BBC reported the two British soldiers captured in Basra on Monday were members of the Special Air Services regiment, Britain's elite special forces commando unit. The men were dressed in Arab clothing and driving a civilian car when Iraqi police tried to stop them.

After being held in a Basra police station, the British men had been handed over to a local Shia Muslim militia, apparently to use as hostages to force the release of two militia leaders.

They were tracked down to a nearby house and rescued by British forces in a follow-up operation.

A British SAS team used the noise of armoured vehicles bulldozing their way through the nearby police compound to mask the raid that freed their comrades.

The rescuers, from the same squad as the captives, blew out the doors and windows of the suburban villa with plastic explosive and hurled stun grenades at the militiamen guarding the two undercover soldiers.

A short, intense burst of automatic gunfire was heard before the men were freed and their captors were seen being dragged away, hoods over their heads and their hands tied behind their backs.

British Army commanders denied being heavy-handed, insisting they had no option but to stage a rescue mission once they had learnt that the soldiers had been handed over to extremists.

The soldiers had been beaten and rogue policemen had been touring the area with loudhailers urging demonstrators on to the streets to protest that the "British saboteurs" had been planning explosions in the city which would be blamed on followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric.

The Iraqis displayed photographs of the explosives, weaponry and several bags of equipment allegedly found in the boot of the men's unmarked car when they had been stopped at a checkpoint.

There were also wigs, Arab headdresses and sophisticated communications equipment.

The two soldiers are believed to have been investigating a corrupt police unit in Basra that was colluding with Shia militia leaders. Some of the men who later interrogated them are believed to be part of this same unit.

The suspicion was that the militiamen would try to smuggle their captives out of the protective cordon and use them as hostages in exchange for two of their leaders arrested by British troops on Sunday.

The Times

2 british soldiers caught trying to plant explosives { September 20 2005 }
Basra crisis talks as tensions rise { September 21 2005 }
Basra jail after brits ap [jpg]
Basra seized [jpg]
Bbc article twists truth and blames insurgents { September 21 2005 }
British attack basra jail to free two
British commandos fired on iraqi police { September 19 2005 }
British destroy rogue basra police hq { November 2006 }
British free 76 iraqis from basra police head quarters { December 26 2006 }
British soldiers dressed like arabs fired on police patrol { September 19 2005 }
British special service pays insurgency in cash { August 28 2005 }
British special services men dressed as arab men
British tanks spring prisoners in iraq { September 19 2005 }
British vehicles cash into basra jail { September 19 2005 }
Brits abandon burning tank { August 2005 } [jpg]
Brits dressed as iraqis fire at police { September 20 2005 }
Brits equipment confiscated [jpg]
Brits planned explosions to blame on alsadr { September 22 2005 }
Brits to leave basra { February 21 2007 }
Captured brits footage still [jpg]
Confiscated from two british soldiers [jpg]
Confiscated from two british soldiers2 [jpg]
Friend or foe challenge in basra { September 21 2005 }
Insurgents turn out to be brits { August 2005 }
Iraq judge seeks arrest of freed british soldiers
Iraqi police arrested over sas kidnapping { November 2006 }
Iraqi police protest after british raid { August 2005 }
Iraqis blame brits for sectarian divisions
Iraq_burning_tank_cp_8477479 [jpg]
News clips of events in basra undercover brits { September 19 2005 }
Sas agents in brought in explosives from iran
Sas officers held in basra [jpg]
Soldiers in flames abandon burning tank
Two britons detained for firing at police
Undercover britons held after basra shootings { September 19 2005 }
Undercover brits captured in basra [jpg]
Undercover brits detained after shootout { September 20 2005 }
Violence after brit army assault freeing undercover brits { September 20 2005 }

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