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Iraq: bomb-hunting devices could be pulled

Iraq: bomb-hunting devices could be pulled

Iraq could halt the use of a scandal-ridden bomb detection device if an investigation backs up charges that the units are ineffective, the interior minister said.
Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press that Iraq would study "another alternative" if experts find flaws in the hand-held units bought from a British-based firm. British officials have banned the export of the device to Iraq and Afghanistan after a BBC report challenged its ability to detect explosives.
"If we say that this device is not functional and useless, we should present the replacement for it," al-Bolani said late Wednesday _ following two consecutive days of bombings in central Baghdad that killed at least 63 people in strikes against high-profile hotels and the city's major crime lab.
But he noted that the black, wand-like device, known as ADE-651, is not the only line of defense against potential car bombers, noting that Iraqi security forces are expanding the use of measures such as bomb-sniffing dogs.
On Wednesday, Baghdad's top military spokesman said a committee of security officials, explosives experts and electrical engineers will examine the device. Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said, however, that it will remain in use at checkpoints around the country until the probe is complete. About 2,000 units are in Iraqi hands.
Al-Bolani has defended the device. Last week, he told state-run Iraqiya TV that the instruments "managed to prevent and detect more than 16,000 bombs." He also told the AP that he believes criticism of the device is politically motivated to discredit the Shiite-led government and others before March 7 parliamentary elections.
Al-Bolani is leading a Shiite-Sunni alliance that is challenging Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his coalition in the March vote.
The BBC report cited an expert that found the device uses technology similar to anti-shoplifting tags that cannot detect explosives. British authorities banned its export to Iraq and Afghanistan and detained the head of the company that makes the device.
On Thursday, a British newspaper, the Western Gazette, quoted the company chief, Jim McCormick, as saying the allegations were "completely false."
"It is unfair to assume that the whole security situation in Iraq hangs on the device we have used," said al-Bolani. "It is a first defense line with the presence of checkpoints and searches. This device has helped us."
But he noted that Iraqi authorities need to improve on intelligence gathering on suspected insurgent networks and launch more pre-emptive raids.
"We admit that all the intelligence bodies are in the process of building and there is still time needed for them."


Updated : 2021-08-03 09:34 GMT+08:00