The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Saturday, August 6

Extortion

Guard members from East Bay said to charge Iraqis 'rent'
California Army National Guard troops from a unit based in the East Bay charged unauthorized, off-the-books "rent" to Iraqi-owned businesses inside Baghdad's Green Zone to raise money for a "soldiers fund," military officials and sources within the troops' battalion said Friday.

The disclosure is the latest to emerge from a wide-ranging investigation into the conduct of the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment of the Guard.

Military officials had confirmed earlier that the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Frey, was suspended and that one of the battalion's companies, based in Fullerton (Orange County), had been removed from patrol duties and restricted to an Army base south of Baghdad.

Earlier this year, according to military officials and members of the battalion, soldiers from the battalion's Bravo Company approached several businesses owned and operated by Iraqis. Bravo Company is based in Dublin, and the 1st Battalion has its headquarters in Modesto.

The businesses -- a dry cleaner, a convenience store and others -- catered to U.S. soldiers and were located on the fringe of the U.S. military's operating base inside the Green Zone, the fortified hub of the Iraqi government, U.S. occupation officials, foreign embassies and contractor headquarters. The businesses were asked to pay the soldiers "rent."

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They used to have a name for that: extortion.

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