BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (UPI) — An Iraqi defense official said Friday security contractors employed by Western nations are recruiting foreign fighters to Iraq, boosting the level of violence.Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari blamed foreign fighters employed by unnamed security firms under contract with U.S.-led forces for a spate of attacks recently, Iraqi daily Azzaman said.
“These people’s access to Europe is facilitated by these firms. Once trained to carry out special violent actions, they are sent to Iraq to execute their plans,” he said.
Without mentioning specific firms, the spokesman suggested many had recruited fighters from North Africa to conduct operations in Iraq.
By his estimate, there are around 2,000 foreign fighters in Iraq. He said some are working for Western security firms, while others are al-Qaida mercenaries.
Askari said his information comes from interrogations of foreign detainees who admitted to training in Europe under the guidance of the security firms.
They were trained, he says, “to kill Iraqis and cause further insecurity.”
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