FIJI SECURITY CONTRACTOR WARNS ABOUT DANGERS OF IRAQ

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Says company abandoned him during detention

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 1, 2012) – Former soldier and current employee of United States security contractor Triple Canopy Incorporated (TCI), Mark Fisher, who was detained by the Iraqi military for 18 days is warning locals of the dangers associated with employment in the trouble-stricken country.

Mr Fisher said anyone seeking work as a security contractor needed to understand the real dangers of the job and the fact that he and his team were practically abandoned by TCI during their detainment.

"I am never going back there and I urge anyone considering a job as a security contractor to think twice because no amount of money is worth what me and my men went through.

"TCI did not contact my wife to inform her of what had happened.

"It was only after she threatened to go to the media that they formulated a response that basically said TCI officials were in constant contact and visiting us daily, we were being given proper meals and kept in warm and comfortable cells."

"However, the reality was that we were fed food thrown on the floor and despite it being winter, there were no mattresses, pillows or blankets and at no time were we visited by anyone from the company," he shared.

Mr Fisher said the sense of abandonment and a real threat of imminent death at any time played havoc with his mind.

"The situation was such that we did not know what was going to happen at any given time and we all had trouble sleeping," recalled Mr Fisher.

"Luckily one of my team members was a medic and he had a supply of sleeping pills, which we all took at 9pm every night to help us sleep."

The former Republic of Fiji Military Forces sergeant was heading a team of seven men, which included Americans and Iraqi nationals clearing equipment from forward operating bases (FOB) in Iraq when they were detained by Iraqi military forces.

Abandoned by their employer, the team's release was finally secured on December 27 by US Congressman Peter King.

[PIR editor’s note: The Fiji Sun reported that Fiji’s Ambassador to the U.S. Winston Thompson has expressed his appreciation for the assistance of the United States in securing Mr. Fisher’s release.]

During their 18 day ordeal at the hands of the Iraqi military, Mr Fisher and his team were ordered to kneel facing a wall with their hands behind their heads by heavily armed soldiers.

"At that point I thought this was it. God, prayers and thoughts of my wife and kids kept me going," he said.

TCI is contracted by the US State Department to remove sensitive equipment from FOBs after the US military pull out from Iraq.

No comments could be obtained from the company.

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