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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Insurgents 'inside Iraqi police'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Insurgents 'inside Iraqi police' Insurgents 'inside Iraqi police'
Iraq's National Security Adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaie has admitted the country's security forces have been infiltrated by insurgents.

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme, he said he had no idea how far they have already been undermined.

It comes after the British Army said it was forced to take action to free two UK soldiers after learning Iraqi police had handed them to a militia group.

The Pentagon warned in July that Iraq's police force was recruiting insurgents.

'Clean up police'

The Iraqi government has launched an inquiry into events surrounding the arrest of the British soldiers on Monday, both thought to be members of the SAS elite special forces.

Iraq's interior ministry ordered the police force in the southern city of Basra to release the soldiers - but that order was ignored.

The British Army confirmed the troops had been handed over by police to a Shia militia group.

Mr Rubaie told Newsnight: "Our Iraqi security forces in general, and these in particular and in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit that they have been penetrated by some of the insurgents, some of the terrorists as well, so I can't deny this."

He said Iraq now had "a very scrupulous, very meticulous vetting procedure" to "clean our security forces, as well as stop any penetration in future from the insurgents or the terrorists".

He admitted he did not know to what extent the security forces were already infiltrated by insurgents.

Criminals in ranks

However, Mr Rubaie criticised the British military's use of force instead of negotiation in freeing its troops on Monday.

"They could have been freed in a much more peaceful, much more friendly and amicable way than that," he said.

Lessons would be learned so that similar incidents could be avoided in the future, he said.

A report released by the US defence department in July said Iraq's police force was recruiting insurgents and former criminals to its ranks.

It blamed poor vetting procedures and recommended that the quality of records at Iraq's interior ministry be checked.
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