Members of 40 Commando Royal Marines on patrol in Abu Al Khasib, a suburb of Basra, March 31, 2003.
PA Images via Getty Images
In September 2005, British special-operations forces in Basra faced a problem.
Two of their own had been captured during an undercover operation, and their lives were in peril.
In addition to hostile Iraqis, British SAS troops had to overcome reluctant commanders in order to save their comrades.
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In September 2005, British special-operations forces found themselves facing a problem.
Two of their own had been captured and beaten by local Iraqi police during an undercover operation in Basra, and their lives were hanging by a thread.
The operators were members of the famed Special Air Service (SAS) – the British equivalent of the US Army’s Delta Force – and had been part of a surveillance operation targeting the police and their commander, suspected of rampant corruption.
Coalition intelligence also suspected the Iraqi police chief was working with insurgents, particularly the brutal Mahdi Army, a Shia militia organization supported by Iran.
The Shia insurgents had no love for the British. SAS, Special Boat Service (SBS), and Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) commandos had been targeting them in a nonstop for months as part of a counterinsurgency campaign.
That meant there was little room for negotiation. Other US or Coalition troops who had been captured by insurgents had been tortured and killed. If not rescued immediately, the two SAS operators faced the same agonizing fate.
An operation gone south
A British soldier jumps from a tank set ablaze after a shooting incident in southern Iraq city of Basra, September 19, 2005.
The two operators, a sergeant and a lance corporal, were using a light disguise to better blend in to the environment.
As they were finishing their surveillance mission, they were compromised by some plainclothes Iraqi policemen. A scuffle ensued, and the British commandos fired their weapons, wounding some Iraqi policemen.
The two British commandos tried to escape, relying on their “native” garb for protection.
“I always thought as soon as I spoke to someone, they would realize I was British. But we had fake tan, hair dye – I was even driving an Iraqi taxi – because we were trying our best to fit in,” one of the captives, Sgt. Colin Maclachlan, said years later.
Maclachlan spent seven years in the SAS, serving in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, where he was involved in the rescue of British troops held hostage in September 2000.
As they were leaving the area, they came upon an Iraqi police checkpoint and decided to try to talk their way out of an increasingly bad situation, but to no avail.
With an angered mob gathering, the Iraqi policemen handcuffed the SAS troopers and took them to the Al-Jamiat police station.
Screw the brass
Iraqi police and civilians demonstrate against a British raid which freed two undercover soldiers, in the southern city of Basra September 21, 2005.
The team to which …read more
Source:: Business Insider
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