Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Iraq News: Iraqi Police confront counterfeiting

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Iraqi Police confront counterfeiting
By Pfc. Khori Johnson
3rd BCT, 4th Inf Div PAO

COB ADDER, Iraq – Armed with new knowledge about the effects of counterfeiting and methods for dealing with it, the Iraqi Police of Dhi Qar Province who attended a class hosted by U.S. Psychological Operations Soldiers in Nasiriyah, will now return to their units and further disseminate that knowledge. 
The class taught skills essential to maintaining Iraq’s economic stability.

“Through development of strong relationships with our Iraqi Security Force partners, the teams have assisted in training information programs designed to help the ISF improve the security and economic situation in Iraq,” said the noncommissioned officer in charge of the class.

The anti-counterfeiting campaign is one of the training programs that will help the ISF in improving the security and economy of Iraq, she said.

Some 36 high-ranking IP officers attended the class at Dhi Qar’s Provincial Joint Command Center. The IP officers in attendance were hand-pick by Col. Murtatha Al-Shahtore, PJCC director of media relations and legal officer, due to their exceptional service and reputation.

After Saddam Hussein's fall and the introduction of the new Dinar, counterfeiting dramatically decreased, but it is still a serious problem in the area, Shahtore said.

The overall objective for the anti-counterfeiting campaign was to conduct a series of classes that will enable IP officers to receive the training and relay it to their respective units and the local populace.

The first subject covered the possible effects of counterfeiting.

“Introducing counterfeit money into an economy can be considered to be economic warfare,” said Thompson, an instructor of the course. “It will destabilize an economy, inflate prices, and reduce the value of the currency.”

In the next portion of the class, LaLonde explained the security features of modern currency, specifically of the Iraqi Dinar, U.S. Dollar, and the Euro.

Modern currency has a variety of security features, such as watermarks, metallic ink and holograms. When used individually, these features are not difficult to recreate, but when used in combination, they make the counterfeiting process nearly impossible, said LaLonde.

Another major security feature is the composition of the paper itself. Most authentic currency is starch-based, while most counterfeit money is wood-based. In order to identify the chemical composition of questionable bills, special markers are used. When an authentic bill is marked, the line is barely visible. On the other hand, if the bill is a fake, then the line will turn dark. During the class, every officer was able to experiment with this procedure.

The instructors brought examples of real and counterfeit Dinar, Dollars, and Euros. The bills were passed around the class so every officer could experiment with the counterfeit identification process and take that hands-on experience back to his team home unit.

“We wanted to give them a brief overview on what the security features are so that they can go back and teach their officers, and so that they can speak intelligently about this to the public,” said Thompson.

During the final portion of the class, Thompson discussed the importance of the IP enhancing public awareness of counterfeiting. The store owner, the salesman and the everyday customer are on the front lines of this issue, said LaLonde.

“The police can't be everywhere at once,” he said. “In the class, we stress that all these security features and markers don't really count for anything unless the public knows about them. The best way to combat counterfeit money is to stop it at its first signs of showing in the country.”

The relationship between the IP and the public is crucial to not only the anti-counterfeiting campaign, but for all future endeavors of the IP, Thompson said.

Before the fall of Saddam Hussein, Dhi Qar was overrun with counterfeiting.

Since Iraq is rebuilding its infrastructure, it is important that the economy is not put into a fragile state and that progress can continue.

“Our goal is to do what we can to see that Iraq becomes a successful democracy,” said Thompson. “If what we did helps them become a successful democracy, then we have done our job.”