(c) Roger Leo
Col. Shaban al-Ubaidi, police chief of Baghdadi, with photos of recruits killed in an ambush while on the way to join his force.
ANBAR (MAY 2006) – Maj. Lowell F. Rector, 42, of Columbus, Ohio is the Police Transition Team chief working with Iraqi Police in Anbar.
Maj. Rector has been a police officer for 12 years, and in civilian life serves as a sergeant on the Columbus Police Department.
“We’re trying to hire and stand up from scratch 4,550 Iraqi police officers, to work in six districts out of 28 police stations, mostly in metropolitan areas along the Euphrates River Valley.
“The IPs out here are trying to provide security and are not getting paid a dime because the Ministry of the Interior is not freeing up the money. Bureaucracy’s in the way of paying them the money. They have been working since November without pay – working with Coalition forces, with the Iraqi Army, cooperating with sheikhs and local councils.”
Maj. Rector cited Col. Shaban al-Ubadi, an Iraqi asked by the city of Baghdadi – a small Iraqi city about 100 miles northwest of the capital – to serve as police chief.
The son of a Sheikh, Col. Shaban accepted.
Maj. Rector described him as charismatic and fearless, able to attract and retain a small police force in Baghdadi. (Another U.S. commander cautioned that Col. Shaban’s unit had more similarity to an armed gang than what Americans think of as a police force.)
Col. Shaban was imprisoned and tortured twice under Saddam Hussein’s regime, was attacked by insurgents after Hussein’s fall, has seen two brothers killed and his mother shot, and his home destroyed.
On a visit to his compound outside Baghdadi, Col. Shaban displayed gruesome pictures of the mangled bodies of 15 police recruits ambushed and killed while en route from Baghdad to join his force.
“He just wants the insurgents to go away, and when they’re gone, he’ll quit,” Maj. Rector said.
Two months after this interview, Maj. Rector outlined significant changes in the situation in Anbar Province.
"The Provincial Chief, Brig. Gen. Sha’aban (not Col. Shaban), was arrested for suspected embezzlement of pay," he said in July.
"The Baghdadi Police and the remainder of the police in the Western Euphrates River Valley have been paid to date ... But the problem is still not fixed," he said.
At its heart, he said, is a long tradition in the region of the powerful controlling others through monetary leverage, guided by self-interest rather than service to country.