After Baghdad bombings, Iraqis have harsh words for security forces
'The politicians are fighting each other instead of the terrorists,' says a Baghdad shopkeeper, reflecting widespread doubt the government will prevent further Baghdad bombings.
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“You can see the streets are empty – people are afraid,” says Mr. Ali, a clean-cut young shopkeeper who lost friends in the bombing. The shelves of the year-old shop were stocked with protein powder and body-building supplements. He said many of his customers were young men who couldn’t find other jobs and were trying to build up muscle to become security guards.Skip to next paragraph
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'Our hearts are dead'
Around Baghdad, security force manpower and hours increased. Roads leading out of the city were temporarily closed.
At one checkpoint, the non-commissioned officer in charge says he and his men hav lost faith in their superiors and the political leaders they blame for the chaos.
“There is no patriotism anymore. Everyone here just works for their salary – if they cut my pay I’d leave,” says the officer, who did not want his name used because he would be punished for talking to the media.
“Our hearts our dead. The other day there were clashes across the street and we were here laughing. We didn’t do anything because it’s not our job,” he said.
Iraq admits bomb-detecting devices to be ineffective
“The attacks come in waves,” said a plainclothes officer at the same checkpoint, where police were waving electronic explosive detection devices at stopped cars. “We have attacks for two or three days and then it will be quiet for three months.”
The devices, bought in a multimillion dollar contract, have proven to be completely ineffective according to US officials who have tried to persuade Iraqi security forces to make more use of bomb-sniffing dogs. The British owner of the company which sold them to the Iraqi government is being prosecuted in the UK for fraud. The inspector general at Iraq's Interior Ministry recently acknowledged that they don't work, according to a US government auditor's report.
The checkpoint officer said he still had faith in the devices because every time they registered explosives, the police found guns and bullets or other substances.
The scale and breadth of the bombings appear to have weakened the confidence of Iraqis in the security forces guarding checkpoints meant as the first defense against car bombs.
“They’re supposed to provide security for us. But they’re drinking in the daytime and addicted to pills,” says another shopkeeper, referring to what Iraqis say is a widespread problem among police. “This kind of person isn’t capable of protecting us. People who are there only to get a salary can’t provide security for this country.”
Mohammed al-Dulaimy contributed to this report.