Storbritannia avbryter et militært treningsprogram for libyske kadetter og sender hjem de første 236 libyerne som har deltatt etter en anmeldt gruppevoldtekt av en lokal mann og seksuelle overfall på kvinner. Fem er arrestert og to kadetter har innrømmet å ha overfalt tilfeldig forbipasserende kvinner på åpen gate.
De libyske kadettene ble plassert i en militærleir ved den vesle landsbyen Bassingbourn utenfor Cambridge og utviste i løpet av fem måneder en oppførsel som ifølge statsminister David Cameron er «komplett uakseptabel».
Det er også rapportert om tyverier og voldelige sammenstøt mellom libyske og britiske soldater, og lederen for den britiske hæren sier at de libyske kadettene oppførte seg helt hinsides. Lokalbefolkningen er skremt og føler seg sveket av myndighetene, som de mener løy om iverksatte sikkerhetstiltak i forbindelse med opplæringsprosjektet.
En libysk kadett mener imidlertid at det hele er britenes feil: – De fortalte oss ikke om britisk lov og hva som er forskjellen på rett og galt, sa Omar Al-Mukhtar til BBC i en kommentar om at flere medsoldater var arrestert for seksuelle overfall.
I respekt for kadettenes religion og kultur ble den gamle militærleieren oppgradert på forhånd. Det libyske flagget ble heist, en gammel flyhangar ble omgjort til moskè, det ble satt opp skilt på arabisk, og det ble satt inn enkeltdusjer for å imøtekomme det islamske forbudet for menn å se hverandre nakne. Et monument til ære for amerikanske soldater ble dekket over for at ikke de tilreisende kadettene skulle bli opprørt da forbindelsene mellom USA og Libya har vært kjølige siden Ronald Reagan beordret luftangrep på Tripoli på åttitallet.
Den kulturelle respekten ble derimot ikke besvart.
Lokalbefolkningen forteller om tilnærmet daglige fyllekuler, slåsskamper, tyverier og seksuell trakassering. Kvinner i lokalmiljøet er blitt bedt av britisk militærpersonell om dekke seg til og å holde seg hjemme for «sin egen sikkerhet».
The situation in Bassingbourn made headlines this week when shocking details emerged of the behaviour of the Libyan soldiers.
An angry David Cameron told the House of Commons that the Libyans’ conduct was unacceptable and insisted none of the cadets should be granted asylum here. He then said the Government programme to train Libya’s army would be scrapped and all the trainees deported.
The head of the British Army, General Sir Nicholas Carter, admitted the behaviour of Libyan soldiers who went on the rampage outside their barracks was ‘beyond the pale’. But behind the heightened security, behind Mr Cameron’s stern words, behind the decision to finally send the Libyan troops home in disgrace, is a story of betrayal and broken promises.
Forsvarsministeriet skal ha garantert innbyggerne i leierens nærmeste omgivelser at de libyske soldatene ikke skulle oppholde seg utenfor leieren. Disse reglene ble etterhvert myket opp til at kadettene fikk lov til å foreta eskorterte turer på dagtid i nærmiljøet. I praksis betydde det at libyerne ble kjørt i minibuss til Cambridge eller andre småbyer i området og så ble fortalt at de måtte være tilbake til et visst klokkeslett. Innbyggerne ble forsikret om at mennene på forhånd hadde gjennomgått medisinske, psykiske og atferdsmessige undersøkelser.
Not all the soldiers were to blame for recent events. But five cadets are in police custody following a series of sex assaults in Cambridge last month. One in ten of the men, by the MoD’s own admission, refused to obey orders.
A culture of what can only be described as near anarchy seems to have prevailed inside the barracks — as evidenced by the compelling testimony of the wife of a British soldier based at the camp.
All cleaning brooms, for example, were removed from the establishment, she told us, because the Libyans began taking the broom heads off and using the handles as makeshift weapons against each other in mass brawls, which frequently broke out inside the base.
In addition, extra personnel had to be brought in at mealtimes to stop the Libyans repeatedly trying to steal knives from the kitchen.
Inne i selve leieren måtte kvinnelige britiske soldater til enhver tid være i følge med en mannlig kollega: – De kvinnelige soldatene kunne ikke bli overlatt til seg selv, det var ikke regnet som trygt, sier en kvinne til Daily Mail.
Det skal heller ikke bare ha vært kvinner som ble utsatt for uønskede seksuelle tilnærmelser fra de libyske kadettene:
One young, slightly-built British soldier serving in the canteen attracted the attention of a group of his Libyan counterparts. They approached their translator with a question: Could they ‘buy him?’
‘They wanted him for sex,’ said the soldier’s wife. ‘They kept asking the translator how much “he” would cost so they could have him and rape him. I don’t know whether that is something that happens in their culture or not, but there just weren’t enough British soldiers at the base to cope with or control all of the Libyans.’
An extraordinary claim. And in the febrile atmosphere of Bassingbourn Barracks it is very possible that exaggerated or even baseless rumours have gained currency. However, the very fact they are believed reveals how serious the situation at Bassingbourn has become. Remember, too, that allegations of a male rape are among those known to be under investigation involving the recruits.
Only last Sunday, Libyan troops are alleged to have started a blaze in the supermarket inside the base. Firemen spent an hour at the scene.
The central question, however, remains what happened outside the camp. Why were these men who came from a country that resembles the set of a Mad Max film allowed to come and go almost as they pleased?
Until recent days, security was so lax, even those who did not obtain permission to leave the camp found no difficulty in ‘escaping’. Resident Carol Saunders, 50, told how she saw cadets jumping into taxis from the front of the barracks. On another occasion, she had seen them stocking up on bottles of high-strength vodka in a nearby store.
Down the road in Royston, more than £1,000 was reportedly spent on alcohol on a single visit to Tesco.
‘I know people who work in that branch and they told me Libyan soldiers sometimes take alcohol without paying for it,’ said one young woman. ‘They put the drinks under their arms and walk out.’
A few streets away, we met the young girl who had that encounter with a group of Libyans outside Lloyds bank last month.
The petite brunette, 24, who works in a cafe, was wearing the same work clothes as she was then: baggy pantaloons, crew neck top and short-sleeved cardigan. ‘One of the two British soldiers who was with the Libyans came up to me and said, ‘You might want to cover up because the Libyans are coming out,”’ she said.
‘Moments later, they did come out and they began looking me up and down as if they had never seen a girl before. They were ogling me, one also staring at me angrily.
‘So I don’t know if it was sexual thing or if he thought I should be wearing a burka or something.
‘It wasn’t even as if I was wearing anything provocative. Only my arms were exposed and some of my neckline. But I found the experience very intimidating.’
I Cambridge skal en gruppe libyere ha voldtatt en mann og overfalt en rekke kvinner seksuelt. To har tilstått det siste forholdet. Vitner forteller at gruppen oppførte seg som en flokk som jaktet på ofrene før de befølte dem og forsøkte å stikke hendene sine oppunder kvinnenes skjørt.
News of what happened soon spread through Bassingbourn. On Facebook, a message from one resident read: ‘There has been an escape. Lock your doors and windows.’
Shortly afterwards, the barracks was put into lockdown. Units of the 2 Scots, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, were sent to restore discipline at Bassingbourn and the perimeter fence was lined with prison-style razor wire.
Yet, until recently, Bassingbourn Barracks was at the heart of the community. Thousands of people a year used the facilities on the 200-acre site, including a fishing lake, golf course, hockey pitch, badminton court and a winter sports centre.
Peter Robinson, head of Bassingbourn Parish Council, says: ‘The Ministry of Defence closed all facilities on site to local people on security grounds in March 2013, long before the arrival of the Libyans.’ Yet recent events, he says, have proved ‘their own security was leaky as a sieve’.
‘I think the MoD have handled the whole thing appallingly. They’ve lied right from the start. They always knew, presumably, that they would let these trainees out on their own, but we were told from the very beginning that they would never be let out unaccompanied.’
The MoD declined to address the specific allegations in this article, but said ‘appropriate measures’ have been taken to tackle the disciplinary issues.
Three coaches with the remaining recruits left the barracks in the early hours of yesterday. As the convoy disappeared, the Libyan flag was lowered for the final time.
At least four of the Libyans have claimed asylum, but the Prime Minister has indicated that this would not be granted. But, while their application is being processed, they will remain here.
Among the departing Libyans was Omar Al-Mukhtar, who was not one of the accused soldiers. This week he gave an interview to the BBC portraying the men arrested in connection with the sex assaults in Cambridge as the real victims. ‘They (the Government) didn’t tell us about British law and what’s the difference between right and wrong,’ he said.
Which makes the decision to let him and his compatriots loose on this corner of rural England all the more shocking.
Daily Mail: Inside a village under siege: How one of the most peaceful corners of England was turned into a state of anarchy by Libyan cadets accused of rape and violence… that left residents in constant fear