Washington fields mercenary army in Iraq: “Thousands of former soldiers and police officers from the US, Britain, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere are being paid up to $1,500 a day (many times a soldiers’ wage) to protect Western dignitaries, oil company executives and construction firm bosses in Iraq. Private security firms are also employing veterans of anti-insurgency conflicts in Colombia and Algeria, former soldiers who fought in the Russian government’s war in Chechnya and Chilean mercenaries trained during the brutal dictatorship of General Pinochet.

Two correspondents for the British Observer newspaper in Baghdad on April 18, recalled the bacchanalian atmosphere that existed amongst this community of hired thugs a year ago:

“In the first rush—after the fall of Baghdad—you would see French and Belgian ex-paratroops singing regimental songs in the Sheraton restaurant; steroid-pumped former US special forces; solitary Russian veterans of Chechnya; US women who were once police dog handlers; and scores of former British soldiers varying in age from 25 to 50.”

Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent on Sunday on March 28, described the lawless and increasingly powerful role of these semi-military privateers in the Iraqi capital:”

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