Patrick Mercer MP in The Sun:
TALIBAN fighters are burying dirty needles with their bombs in a bid to infect British troops with HIV, The Sun can reveal.
Hypodermic syringes are hidden below the surface pointing upwards to prick bomb squad experts as they hunt for devices.
…The tactic, used in the Afghan badlands of Helmand, was exposed by Tory MP and ex-Army officer Patrick Mercer.
Senior backbencher Mr Mercer said yesterday: “Are there no depths to which these people will stoop? This is the definition of a dirty war.”
Patrick Mercer MP talking to Stars and Stripes’ “Rumor Doctor” Jeff Schogol, in the wake of the above (emphasis added):
Mercer said he learned about these devices from British bomb disposal technicians training ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. The technicians have been issued Kevlar gloves to counter the threat.
He could not say for certain whether the Taliban have used these devices.
“That wasn’t a question I asked directly, but I got the impression that these are certainly being employed by the Taliban, al-Qaida, etc.,” he said. “I’m not aware of any injuries that have been caused by it so far.”
Schogol adds that neither the International Security Forces-Afghanistan nor the Joint IED Defeat Organization have heard anything about it, and he concludes that it
Sounds more like an enemy propaganda campaign than a widespread new tactic.
I doubt it’s even that. More likely, Kevlar gloves are being issued as a general precaution, someone at Mercer’s office noticed that such gloves are advertised as giving “the wearer the added protection from infected hypodermic needles, knife and razorblade wounds”, and this was seen as a chance to publicise a Mercer soundbite.
The Daily Mail has also reported Mercer’s ”exposure”, adding a quote from someone on the front-line:
Lieutenant Colonel David Southall, Commanding Officer of the Counter-IED Task Force said: ‘Improvised explosive devices remain a tactic of desperation and last resort.
‘The Taliban know they can’t take us on and win in a conventional toe-to-toe fight – whilst they resort to some pretty despicable IED emplacement tactics, my IED operators, now drawn from all across the three services, are well equipped and up for the fight.’
Presumably Southall was unable to confirm any instances of needles being planted – otherwise he would surely have given the details.
Back in February, Mercer endorsed a “bombs in breast implants” story, which again was not supported by an actual evidence and which appeared to have begun life as a columnist’s conjecture. And before that, of course, he regularly passed material provided by self-styled “terror-expert” Glen Jenvey to tabloids, even after a Jenvey-sourced story was found to have been bogus. Mercer also promoted the now-defunct “VIGIL Network”, which was run by Dominic Wightman, and with which the cyber-bully Charlie Flowers was also involved.
There’s no argument about how awful the Taliban are, and the needle story may indeed be true (although unlikely to be effective in spreading HIV) - but given the many instances of unsourced scare-stories turning out to have been untrue, we really need more than just one person’s word for it. Especially when that person is Patrick Mercer, who, although I am sure is a honest person, appears to be completely lacking in discernment – and unwilling to take full responsbility for the consequences of his poor judgement.
(H/T: The Sun – Tabloid Lies)
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