A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.
Torture: MPs call for inquiry into MI5 role
Ian Cobain, The Guardian
MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has “outsourced” the torture of British citizens to Pakistani security agencies after hearing accounts of people being abducted and subjected to mistreatment and, in some cases, released without charge.
John McDonnell, the Labour member for Hayes and Harlington, and Andrew Tyrie, Conservative member for Chichester, say the allegations should be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Westminster body that oversees the Security Service, MI5, and the Intelligence Service, MI6.
In a statement to the Guardian, released via the Home Office, the Security Service insisted it did “not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture”.
However, details of three new cases have raised concerns among MPs.
The case for an inquiry
Editorial, The Guardian
MI5 officers ‘outsourced the torture of British nationals to Pakistani agencies’
Lucy Cockcroft, The Telegraph
Afghanistan mission ‘stopped to discuss rules of engagement’
Lee Glendinning, The Guardian
A mission involving British soldiers in Afghanistan in which two men died after coming under heavy enemy fire, had to be stopped for an hour to enable officers to discuss what rules of engagement they were using, an inquest heard today.
The night-time operation near Garmsir on September 8, 2007, described by one soldier as “Operation Certain Death” was led by Major Jamie Nowell. Giving evidence to the inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire today, Nowell said the problems started when he told his air support to open fire on four militants spotted in a trench. He was then told over the radio that his airborne colleagues were not permitted to engage the enemy.
Nowell explained that his men were under “429 A” rules of engagement, which meant they could engage the identified enemy while the men in the air were on “Card A” which permitted them to fire only in self-defence.
“I could not understand how it happened,” he said. “Eventually the aircraft was put on 429 A, but it took 60 minutes. The opportunity to engage with the Taliban was lost.”
The incident “dented the confidence of commanders on the ground” he said, but had “no real impact” on the operation as a whole.
More troops for Iraq dash hopes of withdrawal
James Kirkup, The Telegraph
More British troops could be sent to Iraq, dashing Gordon Brown’s hopes of an early withdrawal from the country. Military commanders have told the Prime Minister that UK troops will have to remain in Iraq in significant numbers well into next year. The need to stay in southern Iraq to support of the Iraqi forces has dashed any hopes ministers had of announcing a major withdrawal from Iraq this summer. It will also prolong the strain on the Armed Forces of running operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are 4,000 British troops in southern Iraq on a mission that is now focused on training the Iraqi Army. That number could temporarily rise by 120. British and American defence chiefs have recently told the Prime Minister that Iraqi troops based in Basra will not be ready to run their own security operations in the area this year.
Brown ends hopes of withdrawal from Iraq
Afghanistan soldier killed in act of ‘incredible bravery’ trying to recover comrade’s body
Aislinn Simpson, The Telegraph
A soldier killed in Afghanistan showed ‘incredible bravery’ after he crawled back into a Taliban firefight to recover the body of a fallen comrade, his inquest has heard.
Sergeant Craig Brelsford was taking part in a night-time mission dubbed “Operation Certain Death” behind enemy lines, trying to destroy vantage points near the Taliban stronghold of Garmsir in Helmand Province.
As he and his comrades crept across the landscape of bombed-out buildings and drainage ditches under cover of darkness, the enemy opened fire, immediately felling four of a section of seven soldiers.
The battle that ensued on September 8, 2007 lasted several hours, left two dead and saw three others badly injured.