Friday, September 14, 2007

Basra Security Force Chief: 'The interpreters have to leave. They have no choice.'

Above: A Danish soldier in Basra questions an Iraqi through an interpreter. The Dane spoke in English.

Iraqi interpreters working for the British Army have been advised to leave Basra or be killed.

The warning was issued by a leading member of the city’s security forces after militiamen attacked and destroyed the home of one interpreter and narrowly failed to kidnap another. There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that a third had been killed.

“All the interpreters have to leave Basra because these militia will never let them rest. They will kill everybody they know [who worked for the British],” Colonel Saleem Agaa Alzabon, who leads Basra’s special forces, said. “The interpreters have to leave. They have no choice.”

Colonel Saleem and the two targeted interpreters told The Times that the militiamen – almost certainly members of the Shia al-Mahdi Army – had stepped up their pursuit of so-called collaborators since the British withdrew from Basra city 11 days ago. The latest attacks are further evidence of the extreme danger that the 91 interpreters for the British military face now, let alone when the troops leave Iraq for good. They will intensify the pressure on Britain to reverse its refusal to grant them asylum. Gordon Brown ordered a review of that policy after The Times highlighted the interpreters’ plight last month.

Read the rest at the Times of London