The Iraqi authorities deployed members of their special forces, the Rapid Intervention Squad, directly linked to Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, to reinforce the outer perimeter of Baghdad International Airport and the strategic areas surrounding it.
This move comes in the wake of an investigative report prepared by the Transnational Corruption and Crime Reporting Project (OCRB) on December 21, which revealed that the company contracted to secure the airport She had no previous experienceMany of its employees claimed that they had not received their salaries for several months.
In their investigation, OCRB journalists concluded that the Canadian company Business Intel, which was appointed to secure the airport in September 2022, had presented misleading perceptions about its professional qualifications to Iraqi officials. A number of its current and former employees claimed that this situation put the main airport in Iraq, which receives two million passengers annually, at risk.
The deployment of Iraqi elite forces coincides with the escalation of attacks on American forces in Iraq in recent months, and the deterioration of the security situation in the broader region since the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel last October.
Eyewitnesses had informed OCRB about the deployment of members of the Rapid Response Squad in the vicinity of the airport a day after the investigation was published on December 21, and its publication was officially confirmed on Wednesday.
Brigadier General Abdul Amir Al-Hamdani, Director of Media and Relations at the Rapid Response Division “Elite Forces,” told OCRB, “We deployed members of our special forces to secure the outer perimeter of Baghdad International Airport, by order of the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and the directives of the Minister of Interior, to push back any Armed threat and imposing air traffic stability.”
When the investigation was published, Hafeez Okki, owner of Business Intel, initially declined to comment on the allegations contained in the investigation. But he later contacted OCRB to say his company had won the contract after a “competitive bidding process” and had “met all legal contractual requirements”. He said that “Business Intel raised salaries and improved employee benefits,” and that “some employees were only fired for serious misconduct.” He stressed that there have been no security breaches at the airport since Business Intel was appointed.
The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority and the Iraqi Prime Minister's Office did not respond to requests for comment on the information contained in the text of the investigation.