Iraq’s purchase of several thousand fake bomb detectors has been an infamous case of corruption within the country. The ADE 651 devices were used despite objections from the United States and British, and when they were proven to not work, and the manufacturer was imprisoned for selling the bogus detectors the Iraqi government still refused to admit that it was wrong. The Interior Ministry general who bought the ADEs and got a hefty sum in kickbacks in the process was finally convicted and his sentence recently approved.
On January 19, 2016 Iraq’s main anti-corruption agency the Integrity Commission ratified the imprisonment of the general responsible for purchasing the ADE 651s. In June 2012, General Jihad al-Jabiri the former head of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Explosives Department was sentenced on misdemeanor corruption charges. In January the Integrity Commission okayed his four years imprisonment. The Ministry’s inspector general discovered that up to 75% of the money spent on purchasing the detectors actually went to kickbacks to 15 Iraqi officials. That was supported in the trial of the devices’ manufacturer Jim McCormick in England in 2013 where he revealed that he paid millions in bribes to Iraqis to finish the deal. Jabiri was arrested in February 2011 for buying the ADEs. That was after years of the Interior Ministry denying any wrong doing and protecting the general from investigations.
The ADEs were controversial from the day Iraq bought them. McCormick sold 7,000 of them to the Interior Ministry in 2007 for $2,500-30,000 each even though they only took $50 to build. The devices had no working parts in them and no power source. Users were told to walk in circles to generate static electricity that would power them. In November 2008 a British official warned that the devices did not work. In 2009 the British and American forces in Iraq investigated the 651s and both reported that they did not operate. The next year England banned the exportation of the detectors. Despite all this the Iraqi government said there was no wrongdoing in their purchase and insisted that they were good for anti-bomb duties. That happened even after Jabiri was arrested and McCormick was convicted. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for example, said that most of the 651s were effective right after McCormick was found guilty. The next Premier Haidar Abadi then ordered all of the devices removed from service, but some were still seen being used in the streets of Baghdad.
The approval of General Jabiri’s sentence might be the last note heard from Iraq on the ADE 651s. Despite taking millions in bribes not to mention costing the lives of hundreds of people who were killed by bombs not discovered by the detectors he only got a misdemeanor charge. This was yet another example of how the Iraqi government is not serious about fighting corruption. High officials are routinely let go for stealing and graft. Those that are found guilty are usually out of the country or given slaps on the wrists like Jabiri. Corruption is too important to the ruling parties who use it to maintain power via their patronage networks. That’s the reason why it continues to fester within the country.
Sotaliraq, “Integrity Commission approves the imprisonment of the anti-explosives director for four years,” 1/19/16