BAGHDAD, July 5 (UPI) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered a stop to the use of handheld bomb detectors known to be ineffective a day after a blast killed more than 200 in Baghdad.
As he faces the growing discontent of a grieving nation and many people clamoring for an end to government corruption, Abadi called for an inquiry into the so-called “magic wands” issued to nearly every checkpoint in Iraq. The government spent $85 million on the British-made ADE651, a handheld device sold to Iraqi security forces at inflated prices under the pretense of detecting odors of bomb-making ingredients.
The device was initially developed to locate lost golf balls. The British businessman who marketed them, James McCormick, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for endangering lives for profit, as are four others involved in the sale of the fake detectors. Britain limited their sale to Afghanistan in 2010, but the wands are still relied upon in Iraq.
Some Iraqi citizens are blaming the explosion in central Baghdad’s Karrida district on Abadi, accusing his government of failing to protect civilians. A bomb-laden vehicle exploded in a street early Sunday between two three-story shopping malls; the Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Analyzed samples from the wreckage indicate napalm was used, a new technique for the terror group also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL. The bomb did not leave a crater in the street, and damage and casualties were largely caused by fire.
A statement by Abadi Sunday said, “All security forces must take away the handheld detectors from checkpoints and the [Ministry of Interior] must reopen the investigation for corruption in the contracts for these devices and follow all entities which participated in them.”
The wands were still in use Monday, an acknowledgement that Iraq has little else with which to identify bomb threats.
Of the withdrawal of the detectors, Sheikh Qadhim al-Sayyed told the British newspaper The Guardian, “This should have happened a long time ago. There isn’t a person in the country who thinks they work … corruption is the greatest threat we face.”