The Facility Protection Service, or FPS, was first created in 2003, to deal with the drastic problem of looting and defacing of government buildings, as well as museums, mosques, and other historic and cultural structures.
The FPS quickly became a funnel for money going to various factions on opposing sides of Iraq’s loomming sectarian conflict. Men such as Muhammad Yaseen Taha were hired by the Sunni Endowment to protect Sunni mosques and cultural centers, while other men were hired to protect Shi’a monuments. Many of these men became more loyal to their direct, sectarian employers than thee Iraqi government or the Iraqi state as a whole. We believe Taha to be an exception, dedicated to defending his neighborhood and the integrity of the Iraqi state.
Now there are men paid with money earmarked for the FPS on all sides of Iraq’s conflict. It has been rumored that Shi’a members of the FPS, loyal to Muqtada Sadr or others were largely responsible for the large outbreak of attacks after the Samarra shrine bombing in February 2006.
Muhammad Yaseen Taha speaks about his work as an agent of the FPS, and his feelings about the situation in Baghdad. It remains to be seen how the FPS situation will be resolved. On one side they are being linked to Iraq’s death squads, on the other side Lt. General Petraeus and others are depending on the FPS and other mercenary forces for the success of the new security plan.
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