Arab Secrets website has revealed that Saudi Arabia has engaged the services of the British company G4S to provide security for the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah.
The Website also said that G4S operations in Saudi Arabia are currently being managed by a former Saudi security officer, Khalid Baghdadi. The company which started working with the Saudi government in 2010 bears the name Almajal G4S.
Arab Secrets obtained an internal magazine for G4S issued in London. A story in the magazine confirms that the London branch manages the security arrangements related to pilgrims in Makkah.
G4S is one of the world's leading security companies. It was previously revealed that it's Israeli subsidiary supplies the Israeli occupation with security systems used in detention centres where the treatment of prisoners includes torture. In some cases this treatment has caused the deaths of prisoners inside Israeli jails.
In a report by "Who Profits", the company has supplied equipment to the Kishon and Jerusalem Interogation and Detention Centers where there has been evidence of tourture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners. The report says (pg. 14):
"According to the company publications, company systems were installed in the Kishon Detention Facility during 2007. Reports by human rights organizations show that while there is ample evidence of torture incidents from the time before the systems were installed, there is a considerable amount of evidence of such incidents which have happened since."
Earlier this year, young Palestinian father Arafat Jaradat died after Israeli interrogation, in another G4S-equipped prison. This is included in the same report by "Who Profits", cited by Electronic Intifada.
On the 4th of July 2013, an Early day motion was tabled in the UK Parliament condemning G4S's conduct in Israel/Palestine:
That this House condemns G4S for providing services to Israeli prisons to which Palestinian prisoners are illegally transferred in serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and also, in the case of child prisoners, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; further condemns G4S for being associated with treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including children, who are routinely subjected to violence and inhumane treatment at G4S-serviced prisons in Israel and Palestine; and urges the Government not to renew any contracts with G4S while it continues to support Israel in its breach of human rights, UN resolutions, international law and the Geneva Convention.
Campaigns director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Sarah Colborne told MEMO: "G4S has made itself an international target due to its role in facilitating serial human rights abuses. It provides services to Israeli prisons where Palestinians are transferred in violation of the Geneva Convention and in which torture is widespread. Palestinians have called on the international community to boycott G4S and we have a responsibly to heed that call."
Meanwhile the chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, Ismail Patel said, "We have posted an open letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the UK raising our concerns about the use of G4S during the Hajj season. This is the most spiritual journey which most Muslims will undertake in their lives and it is unacceptable for Saudi to allow a company which is complicit in Israel's occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, to manage the security of pilgrims," stated Ismail Patel, Chair of FOA."
MEMO has on its part contacted G4S for comment on the matter. We were told that although the company does operate in Israel, the structure and management of its work in Saudi Arabia is entirely different.
A G4S spokesman added: "Whilst we don't provide security directly for the pilgrims, we do provide security support for clients in Saudi that will require additional support during the Hajj period".
This page was updated on the 24th September 2013 at 15.49 GMT and 16.10 GMT to include additional references including the 'Who Profits' report, the UK Parliament's Early Day Motion and the G4S statement