Special forces sent to Iraq amid fears for Harry's safety


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Special forces sent to Iraq amid fears for Harry's safety

Army strengthens protection for the prince, as experts warn of 'nightmare kidnapping scenario'

Army special forces have been sent to Iraq to provide increased protection for Prince Harry ahead of his tour of duty in the country.
An extra detachment of special forces has arrived in southern Iraq to monitor militia groups and reinforce the prince's protection as fears grow that insurgents will target the third in line to the throne.
The Army is aware that militia groups are claiming to know when his regiment, the Blues and Royals, will arrive in the country. Last week The Observer revealed plans by insurgent groups to kidnap and kill Harry. The insurgents now claim to have informers inside the British base in Basra who will track the Prince's movements.
As he completed his intensive pre-operational training at Combermere Barracks, Windsor, defence officials were yesterday sticking to the line that he will still be travelling to Iraq as a troop commander.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the defence staff, is believed to be satisfied that Harry should serve in Iraq amid claims that politicians are steering clear of taking such a contentious decision.
Officials close to Prince Charles and his sons refused to be drawn yesterday on whether a media strategy is being devised for a situation such as Harry's capture or death in Iraq. Although the prince appears destined for deployment, military sources indicated yesterday that a significant amount of time in Iraq might have to be spent 'behind a desk'.
Two months into his Iraq tour, he will be allowed extraordinary leave to help organise and attend a concert on 1 July in honour of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who died 10 years ago.
Senior military figures are unanimous that the Prince - known as Cornet Wales - should be allowed to serve as troop commander, leading 12 men in four armoured reconnaissance vehicles. One military source with considerable experience of the security situation in Iraq said: 'The probability of Harry becoming a victim is incredibly slim.'
Despite fresh claims from insurgents that they are planning to target Harry, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday they had not received any complaints from senior commanders in Iraq or from junior ranks over the imminent arrival of the Prince.
Military sources stressed that preventing Harry going to the country at such a late stage would hand insurgents a propaganda coup. Hugo Vickers, the royal author and constitutional expert, said: 'On balance he probably ought to go; if he doesn't, it looks ridiculous.'
Although most military blogs referring to Harry's deployment have been removed from the internet, those that remain suggest concerns do exist over the situation among service families.
One message describes the Prince as a 'bullet magnet'. Another from the website rearparty.co.uk - a site for friends and families of the military - states: 'Why don't they just paint a great, big red cross on Prince Harry's waggon. Don't these people have the common sense to keep this quiet? Why risk the lives of prince Harry and the people who are in the tank with him? If I [were] the wife of one of them I would push him down the stairs so he doesn't have to go.'
Most commentators yesterday warned that the nightmare scenario would be if Harry was captured and paraded on television like the 15 British sailors who were effectively used by Iran as propaganda pawns before being released.
Robert Lacey, the historian and author of Majesty, a biography of the Queen, and The Kingdom, a study of Saudi Arabia, said: 'Imagine if the commanding officer of the Iran hostages had been Prince Harry. The kidnapping in Iran may have given the MoD food for thought about handing over a celebrity target in such an unconventional theatre of war.'
Lord St John of Fawsley, the constitutional expert and friend of the Queen, added: 'The thought of him being captured is horrific, a much bigger disaster than him being killed. Despite Harry's understandable desire to go with his men, it's in the higher interest of state security that he doesn't go. I think Princess Diana would be thinking along the lines I describe.'
Lacey added: 'It's clear he's a celebrity target. His capture or death would be an enormous victory for the enemy and setback for Britain. In the age of celebrity culture, one also has celebrity warfare. In the Middle Ages kings led their men into battle and took the risk in a very obvious way to inspire them.'
Vickers, said: 'If Harry died we'd think it was a pointless waste of life. The person we'd all blame would be Blair. I'd be inclined not to send him. I dread to think what Princess Diana would have thought,' he added.
His comments came amid fresh claims obtained by The Observer from both Sunni and Shia militias operating in southern Iraq that they are keenly awaiting the prince's arrival.
Abu Zaid, a commander in the notorious Mahdi army militia, said: 'I would like to advise him to remain in the lap of his friends and to learn a serious lesson from what is happening to the British soldiers in Basra.'
Abu Ahmed, another commander within the Mahdi army, claimed Harry was being brought to Iraq to establish colonial rule. He said: 'I'm afraid he wants to be king over us. Now the true intent of the English has appeared.'
Abu Ghassan, one of the Iranian-backed Sunni group Thar-allah - God's Revenge - said: 'I hope he will come down to the street so that he will be able to see with his own two eyes what may happen to him'.

contentious- kontrowersyjny
deployment- rozmieszczenie (strategiczne)
detachment- oddział (wojskowy)
establish- ustanawiać
hostage- zakładnik
imminent- nieunikniony
incline- skłaniać się ku
insurgent- powstaniec, rebeliant
notorious- cieszący się złą sławą
pawn- zakładnik
setback- komplikacja, niepowodzenie
steer clear of- unikać
unanimous- jednogłośny, jednomyślny


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