Abandoned by Britain, the interpreter fleeing from Iraqi death squads

By STEPHEN GREY – first published Mail on Sunday on 11th November 2007

A senior British Army officer has hit out at the lack of protection given to his former translator after the man was forced to go on the run when Iraqi insurgents murdered his brother-in-law and kidnapped his wife.

He says the Iraqi interpreter, who also worked for the Foreign Office, was turned away by British officials and told: “Make your own way to safety.”

Last night, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer, who was head of the Army’s legal service in Iraq, said Britain had an obligation to help Haider Samad.

He said: “We owe this man an enormous debt – we can’t abandon him and his family.”

Lt Col Mercer said Samad had been crucial to his work in establishing law and order after the British took over in southern Iraq. “We couldn’t have done it without him,” he said.

The news comes despite Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s promise to protect former employees of UK Forces in Iraq and allow them to settle in Britain.

Last night, Haider Samad was on the run in Basra and in desperate danger after he was turned away from the British base at the city’s airport.

Armed militias behind a terror offensive against British troops in the region have launched a manhunt for him, and have already launched a murderous attack on his family.

Other former translators who worked for British Forces say the situation is serious. The Foreign Office’s own figures suggest that 40 ex-employees of the British have been killed so far.

Many in the Army believe there has been insufficient care taken to remember those who have died a manhunt for him, and have already launched a murderous attack on his family.

Other former translators who worked for British Forces say the situation is serious. The Foreign Office’s own figures suggest that 40 ex-employees of the British have been killed so far.

Many in the Army believe there has been insufficient care taken to remember those who have died.

Samad had worked for British forces since they first arrived in 2003; he had been held for the previous four years under house arrest by Saddam because of his pro-democracy work.

In March 2007, he left his final job as an interpreter for ArmorGroup, a UK firm running a Foreign Office contract to train local police, after death threats from Shia militias.

In September his brother-in-law Ali was captured and killed by the militias. They left a note on his body urging Samad to give himself up.

Samad then fled to Iran but his wife and children and his wife’s uncle, Ahmed, were kidnapped last weekend.

They were all later released but Ahmed is in an intensive-care unit with four bullet wounds in his chest.

Samad said: “I appeal for anyone with a conscience to help me. This is a question of life or death for us.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said officials were ‘keeping closely in touch’ with Samad and doing their best to help him.

One thought on “Abandoned by Britain, the interpreter fleeing from Iraqi death squads”

  1. just a point of style – there is a professional difference between ‘translators’ and ‘interpreters’, which here are used interchangeably. Translators translate written texts while interpreters translate verbal exchanges. Thanks.

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