Chalabi Backers Arrested For Looting
Wednesday 24 April 2003
US-trained troops 'caught looting in Baghdad'
Fighters of the US-trained Free Iraqi Forces have been arrested after they were allegedly found looting abandoned homes of members of Saddam Hussein's regime.
US Army Staff Sergeant Bryce Ivings said FIF soldiers have been caught repeatedly while looting homes in an enclave in Baghdad where members of the Baath Party lived.
He said soldiers from the 7th Infantry Regiment detained four men dressed in FIF uniforms and carrying rocket-propelled grenades. The men were taken to a prisoner-of-war detention centre.
Less than an hour later, another patrol found four other fighters - in uniform, but unarmed - carrying away china, glassware and clothing from empty houses. Sergeant Jason Letterman said they were not held, but were told to stop the looting.
FIF soldiers were trained, uniformed and brought to Iraq by the US military. They are the military wing of the US-backed Iraqi National Congress and wear desert camouflage uniforms.
Baghdad police chief, Zabar Abdul Razaq, says FIF forces have looted homes in Baghdad and refuse to obey police orders. He added: "They will not respect our men and we need the US soldiers to help us control them."
Lieutenant Colonel Alan King, commander of the Civil Affairs battalion and responsible for reconstituting the police, said US troops will help enforce the law.
King said he was concerned that one of the Iraqi opposition parties that has returned to Iraq after Saddam's overthrow may be trying to start a rival police force.
He has reportedly told Razaq that his force is the only legitimate law enforcement in Baghdad and that anyone trying to form another one would be treated as hostile forces.
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