Robert Young Pelton, on his new site IraqSlogger.com, has an in depth report on Alsammarae's breakout of an Iraqi jail this week. The Los Angeles Times broke the story early this week about Ayham Alsammarae, an Iraqi-American, who was aided by some contractors to get out of jail. (Also see the Chicago Tribune for more.)
Pelton gets into the history of al-Sammarae and notes this wasn't the first time contractors helped him:
Although Alsammarae hit the news this week with tales of a bizarre jail-break from the Green Zone complete with a story of how witnesses said foreign security contractors helped out, it was actually the second time security contractors were said to involved in his ability to avoid Iraqi legal process.
Tippi Rasp of The Enid News of Oklahoma describes the relationship between Alsammarae and George Dillman, a sheriff's deputy turned DynCorp contractor who got to know the Iraqi/American well while escorting him to his court appearances. Dillman grew to respect Alsammarae and was concerned about his plight. Dillman and Texas lawman Bill Glass said they were not involved in his second escape but had been working for the U.S. Embassy, looking out for Mr. Alsammarae's safety. In Alsammarae first attempt to escape the two contractors felt that their charge was under threat in jail and after a court hearing drove directly to the U.S. Embassy instead of back to his prison cell. The two DynCorp security contractors were later fired for their actions.
As for his last escape:
Alsammarae had plenty of experience with security contractors. On November 10, 2004, Elizabeth Brackett of WTTW Chicago described his daily commute as " 50 armed guards ...24 hours a day. He visits power plants in a seven-car convoy." Liz Sly and Aamer Madhani of the Chicago Tribune reveal the convoluted back story and fill in some of the missing pieces. They tell the story of five foreigners showing up in two GMC Suburbans and whisking Alsammarae away. In addition, their sources maintain there were only three Iraqi police on guard at the time in the normally crowded station. The same police took ten hours to report his disappearance.
After escaping his jail cell in the Green Zone, Alsammarae, in telephone interviews with U.S. newspaper correspondents, taunted Iraqi authorities. He said he was fleeing death threats in Iraq, and claimed he had already left the country.
In the New York Times piece, "Ali Shbot, (spokesman for the Commission on Public Integrity), which is run by Rathi al-Rathi, said that those charges (of a personal vendetta) were ludicrous and that the commission was investigating politicians of all stripes. He said that of roughly 90 cabinet-level officials in previous Iraqi governments since the invasion, 18 have received either arrest warrants or subpoenas."
It is important to note that since the public integrity commission was created in June 2004, only Alsammarae has returned to face the charges in Iraq. The rest charged with crimes have fled.
Now it appears that that ratio is one hundred percent.
Still unanswered are questions of who helped him and if they were freelance (hope they weren't wearing their transponders... as if that mattered) or on the corporate clock.
On a side note, Pelton digs up a website that I'm surprised is still online: Duty to the Future: Free Iraqis Plan for a New Iraq. This is / was a State Department Information Operation that was part of the Future of Iraq Project that was largely ignored, or unknown, by the DoD's Phase IV planning and execution. (In case DoS takes the site down, here's the PDF of Duty to the Future.)
Reiterating my recommendation to read IraqSlogger.com if you're at all interested in Iraq, I still wish they had a working RSS feed...