Mercenaries dupe ISAF soldiers in Afghanistan

International soldiers in Afghanistan duped by mercenaries into providing technical support, sniffer dogs

International soldiers working within a Canadian-led NATO mission in Afghanistan were briefly deceived by a small band of mercenaries to provide technical support and assistance.

Cmdr. Chris Henderson, a spokesperson for the International Security Assistance Force, said the group of vigilantes was led by Jonathan Idema, a former U.S. soldier arrested a week ago.

Idema's group conducted raids on compounds in Kabul, seizing alleged terrorist suspects, said Henderson. Following each raid, Idema's group called on ISAF to bring bomb experts and sniffer dogs to the compounds. ISAF assisted them three times: June 20, June 22 and June 24.

"What was asked of ISAF was to check to make sure that the compound in which these people were operating and any vehicles that happened to be there...were free of explosives," said Henderson.

"They believed they were providing legitimate support to a legitimate security agency."

When ISAF consulted with the U.S. military about Idema, they learned he was operating outside of military boundaries.

"We realized that, in fact, we were providing support to an organization which was acting outside the law," said Henderson.

ISAF broke off contact with Idema, who Afghan security officials arrested on July 5. Any prisoners being held by Idema were released.

Although a Canadian-led mission, the soldiers were from another NATO country, which was not named. Canadian commanders say ISAF troops were not part of the raids or the detention of prisoners.

Defence Minister David Pratt said his department is looking into the incident.