“Masked Libyan cadets issued a statement after allegations surfaced that anarchy had prevailed inside the barracks” in Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth in South Cambridgeshire. Looks pretty reassuring to me! If I were local matron Petunia Fink-Nottle, this picture would hush all my fears.
Paul Bracchi writes in The Daily Mail:
It has been five months since the tricolour flag of post-Gaddafi Libya was first hoisted alongside the Union Jack at Bassingbourn, to mark the start of a training programme to give leadership skills to a total of 2,000 hand-picked Libyan cadets to help their war-torn country. Until yesterday, there were 236 Libyans at the base. But far from teaching leadership, it seems their sojourn to the UK had the opposite effect.Is there a more Wodehousian village name than Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth?
Drunkenness, theft, violent clashes with British troops and in-fighting between the Libyans themselves had become an almost daily occurrence. More disturbing, allegations of a male rape and sexual attacks on three local woman are now being investigated. Meanwhile, the lanes and cul-de-sacs in the vicinity of the barracks have been teeming with police dispatched in an attempt to allay local fears.
It was easy to forget, as yet another squad car and marked van passed along the quaint High Street this week, that this is Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth (pop; 3,500).
Steven Pinker talks somewhere about how English-speaking people can instantly recognize whether a string of nonsense syllables is plausibly the name of an English village or whether that’s just not English.
We now know, however, from a senior Libyan officer, that some of the young men — who hail from remote areas — had never seen a woman before other than their mothers and sisters and were totally unprepared for life in Britain. …They say you get the kind of ruler you deserve, and the Libyans got 42 years of Muammar Gaddafi, until Barack “Death from Above” Obama liberated them in 2011.
All cleaning brooms, for example, were removed from the establishment, [a British soldier's wife] told us, because the Libyans began taking the broom heads off and using the handles as makeshift weapons against each other in mass brawls, which frequently broke out inside the base.
In addition, extra personnel had to be brought in at mealtimes to stop the Libyans repeatedly trying to steal knives from the kitchen.
Female British soldiers boarding at the barracks had to be accompanied at all times by male colleagues. ‘The women soldiers on site couldn’t be left alone,’ said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. ‘It was not considered a safe place to be.’
The decision to allow the Libyan contingent to leave the compound unsupervised seems particularly scandalous.
Nor, insists the soldier’s wife, was it just women who were potentially at risk at Bassingbourn Barracks.
One young, slightly-built British soldier serving in the canteen attracted the attention of a group of his Libyan counterparts. They approached their translator with a question: Could they ‘buy him?’
‘They wanted him for sex,’ said the soldier’s wife. ‘They kept asking the translator how much “he” would cost so they could have him and rape him. I don’t know whether that is something that happens in their culture or not, but there just weren’t enough British soldiers at the base to cope with or control all of the Libyans.’