Sunday, March 18, 2007
From NYTimes.com: Ten Iraqis being held in a British military detention center in Basra carried out an audacious escape plan over the past several days: they switched places with visitors, British authorities said.
An 11th detainee was missing, but no one appeared to have been substituted for him, British authorities said. The detention center is at a British base on the outskirts of Basra.
The escape came to light on Thursday, when it became apparent that “one person was not who he said he was,” said a spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. The military began to investigate and found that nine other detainees were also substitutes. The real ones had walked out the door, apparently after swapping clothes with their willing stand-ins, British officials said.
The substitutions were carefully plotted, and the imposters “were remarkably well prepared,” the spokesman said. “They looked the same,” he said. “They knew the stories of the people they were substituting for. It was quite a sophisticated effort, very carefully planned.”
Because none of the detainees who escaped had yet been charged with a crime, the British military would not provide any details about their cases or the facility in which they were held, including its size or the length of time that they had been held there.
British officials said that security was now tighter, but that when detainees received visitors before, there had been little monitoring.“They are allowed a large number of visitors, and we are not allowed to stand over them when they are visiting them,” the spokesman said.
There has been no decision how to deal with the imposters, but they are likely to be charged with having assisted the escape, the military spokesman said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]