Sunday, September 20, 2009

Inter-Risk Connections to Blackwater?

ISLAMABAD, Sept 19: A large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized from a house of a retired captain during a raid here on Saturday morning. Police said the district administration officials, along with personnel of security agencies, raided the house on street 35, sector F-6/1, after information that illegal arms were stored there.

The house is owned by Capt (retd) Syed Ali Ja Zaidi, owner of Inter-Risk Security Company. Capt (retd) Zaidi also runs another security company, Care and Carrying, in Rawat where retired personnel of security forces and security guards are trained in anti-terrorism by a US company.

He was picked up by a joint team of security forces and police from Rawat on Wednesday, but released after some “foreign diplomats and government officials intervened”, according to a reliable source.

Police first cordoned off the area and then broke into the house. The team searched the house and found 61 repeater guns, nine 30-bore pistols, a 22-bore pistol, a 7MM rifle and 545 cartridges along with records of arms and computer files from the servant quarter.

The persons present in the house failed to produce a ‘no objection certificate’ and licences of weapons. Two suspects were arrested.

The main suspect, Capt (retd) Zaidi, was not present in the house. It is believed the suspect had got a tip-off and decided to escape before the action.

It was revealed during preliminary investigation that most of the weapons had been tempered.

The Kohsar police registered a case against the accused under the arms ordinance and fraud.

The sources said the raid was conducted on the orders of a top government official.

Inter-Risk Security Company’s licence was cancelled in the past because of Capt (retd) Zaidi’s alleged links with Americans. He gets $2,000 for every recruit from the foreign embassy concerned, but pays Rs60,000 to the recruit.

Recently 200 personnel were trained at his security company ‘Care and Carrying’ and were deployed with officials of a private security company of a foreign country in Islamabad.

The company also imported over 80 modern and sophisticated prohibited bore weapons.

A senior officer of the embassy approached the competent authority to seek licences for them.

Under the law only the prime minister can issue licences of prohibited bore. Only non-prohibited bores were allowed for security guards in Pakistan. However, those guards who patrol dangerous areas having threats of robbers and terrorists where carrying prohibited bore while getting licences from the competent authority.

AP adds: US Embassy spokesman Rick Snelsire said the US contract with Inter-Risk to provide security at the embassy and consulates took effect this year. It is believed to be the first US contract for the firm, said Snelsire, who did not have a figure for its amount.

“Our understanding is they obtained licenses with whatever they brought into the country to meet the contractual needs,” he said. “We told the government that we had a contract with Inter-Risk.”

In particular, Pakistani reporters, anti-US bloggers and others have suggested the US is using the American firm formerly known as Blackwater, a claim that chills many Pakistanis because of the company’s alleged involvement in killings of Iraqi civilians. The US Embassy denies it uses Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, in Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Dawn

For an earlier report, go here.

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