Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Iraq’s Interior Ministry Finally Deals With Fake Bomb Detectors
In February 2011, the Interior Ministry finally took action on the ADE-651 bomb detectors that had been at the center of a controversy since they were first purchased in 2007. On February 2, the inspector general at the Interior Ministry announced that it was returning $20 million to the central government for buying the devices. The Ministry also said that senior officials had been sent to court for not revealing who was responsible for ordering the detectors. Then on February 12, the commander of the Ministry’s bomb squad, General Jihad al-Jabiri, was arrested for purchasing the devices. This was a dramatic change for the Ministry that had stuck by the bomb wands, and refused to persecute anyone for them.
Under Maliki’s previous administration, then Interior Minister Jawad Bolani stood by the ADE-651. He stopped prosecution of six officers charged with importing the bomb detectors, and blocked any further investigation into the matter in late-2010. The Ministry also stuck by the devices. General Jabiri for example, told the New York Times in November 2009 that the wands were effective and worked. This was despite repeated warnings by American forces that they didn’t, a similar announcement by the Ministry’s own inspector general in October 2010, and the British manufacturer being convicted of fraud that same year.
The bomb wands were first purchased in 2007 from the British company ATSC. The devices had no batteries, and were supposedly run by static electricity created by the operator walking in circles. The corporation claimed that they could detect guns, ammunition, drugs, human bodies, truffles, and contraband ivory. Such a description should have scared off any serious government official. Instead, Baghdad bought around 1,500 for $122 million.
Interior may not have a minister yet, but the clearing out of the old leadership has allowed it to finally deal with the bomb detectors. It took Interior four years to handle them despite nearly everyone saying they didn’t work. The purchase of the ADE-651 was a crime that not only wasted over one hundred million dollars, but also endangered millions of people as they were deployed throughout the country.
Dazzayi, Saman, “Iraqi Interior Ministry returns $20m to 2010 budget over explosive detector controversy,” AK News, 2/2/11
Nordland, Rod, “Iraq Swears by Bomb Detector U.S. Sees as Useless,” New York Times, 11/3/09
Reuters, “Iraq: Official Arrested in Connection With Bogus British Bomb Detectors,” Reuters, 2/17/11