IRAQ

Video: Iraqi man reveals absurdities of Baghdad security checkpoints

Iraq is one of the world’s most dangerous countries. As a result, Iraqi cities are overrun by soldiers and policemen, and there are roadblocks everywhere. One Iraqi man decided to test these security measures, which turn out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors.

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Screenshot of a video filmed in Baghdad.

 

 

Iraq is one of the world’s most dangerous countries. As a result, Iraqi cities are overrun by soldiers and policemen, and there are roadblocks everywhere. One Iraqi man decided to test these security measures, which turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors.

 

The video was filmed in Baghdad using a small camera hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, and uploaded on June 2.The identity of the man who filmed the video remains unknown; he even changed his voice in order not to be recognised.

 

 

In the video, the man first says he is aware of the risk he is taking by carrying out these tests. He shows a bag full of ammunition, explaining it consists of roughly 30 AK-47 bullets, which “according to the Internet, is enough to create an explosive device”. He adds that in the past, he has already warned the hotel that he is heading to that there are flaws in its security apparatus, and since he was ignored, he is now filming this video to prove that they should take further measures.

 

Screenshot showing the man revealing his stock of ammunitions.

 

At the 3’10 mark, the man stops at a checkpoint. A soldier appears to sweep some kind of detector over the car. This lasts just a few seconds, and the man is allowed to drive on, while he comments, “As you see, the magic detector did not notice anything!” A minute later, the man passes through a second checkpoint by just waving at the guards, without even stopping. He reaches the entrance of the Al-Mansour hotel (at 4’17), where the armed guard asks him where he is going, whether he has a reservation, and whether he has any weapons. Since the man says no, the guard walks around the car (he can be seen in the rear view mirror) then gives him permission to enter the hotel, without even asking him to open the trunk. As a result, the man is able to easily enter the hotel with his ammunition, even though the hotel was the site of an attack in 2007 that killed 12 people and injured 21.

“This video shows the flaws that we are constantly warning the interior ministry and the defence ministry about”

Our Observer Ali al-Moussawi works in Baghdad for Al Baghdadiya, a local TV station.

 

This video shows two types of flaws: flaws in the technology used by the security forces, and in the searches that they are supposed to conduct.

 

Despite last year’s outcry over the use of fake bomb detectors — of which Iraq is the main purchaser — our security services continue to use this technology to check cars.

 

It’s worrisome that this man was able to enter Al-Mansour hotel without any problems, because Baghdad’s local parliament building and the police headquarters are located right across the street.

 

That said, the guard was asking questions that may seem to be out of pure curiosity, but the aim of which is in fact to check the driver’s accent to verify whether he is Iraqi. Most suicide bombers that operate in Iraq are actually not from the country, but rather from Saudi Arabia, Syria, and sometimes even Afghanistan.

 

Soldiers at the checkpoints are often negligent because they are exhausted. They sometimes work for 15 hours straight. And during high-risk periods, soldiers sometimes work 60 days straight, without a single day off. It is also common for security guards to leave their posts, with the blessing of the district chief: so long as guards give part of their salaries to the chief, they are allowed to work as taxi drivers or to sell goods, which pays better. The worst part is, at Baghdad checkpoints, only the cars are somewhat checked, but pedestrians never are!

 

No neighbourhood in Baghdad has remained immune from attacks in the last few years. During each attack, the local authorities or business owners will strengthen their security measures for a while, but they eventually end up loosening them and the same security flaws come back. This video is great because it shows exactly the flaws that we [journalists] are constantly warning the interior ministry and defence ministry about.

 

Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira (@SarraGrira).