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Bechtel contractor, based in Dubai, gets lucrative U.S. security contracts

John Byrne and Ron Brynaert
Published: March 6, 2006

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A British security firm headquartered in Dubai has won lucrative contracts for U.S. security in Iraq and the United States, providing security in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and training Iraqi port security officers under the Coalition Provisional Authority, RAW STORY has found.

The firm, the Olive Group, is largely comprised of ex-British intelligence officers. While a British company, its main headquarters are in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates city that caused a stir when it was revealed that the Emirates were set to take over control of 21 U.S. ports. Olive was founded in 2001.

The revelation that a Dubai-based firm provides security consulting for myriad U.S. operations at home and abroad shows the increasing tendency of the U.S. government to privatize security efforts. It comes on the same day that the Drudge Report discovered that a foreign company handles security at an Indianapolis airport.


Olive’s consulting in Iraq is underwritten by U.S. taxpayers under an umbrella contract awarded to Bechtel. It has won three major contracts from Bechtel since the invasion in 2003. A recent estimate suggests the U.S. spends $2 billion a year on private security services in Iraq; Olive had scored at least $200 million when the study was published in 2004.

Olive came under scrutiny in 2003 after it emerged that the co-owner’s father, Tony Allum, visited Washington to meet with Bechtel leaders as an envoy of Iraq Industry Working Group, an arm of the British government. Allum and his son deny any contracts were awarded due to favoritism.

Under another U.S.-Bechtel deal, Olive provided security in Mississippi for travel trailers and mobile homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

RAW STORY has found the firm also provided training for guards who guard Iraq’s ports.

“The Iraqi Port Authority (IPA) has approximately 130 local Iraqis that occupy security positions at the Port,” a 2004 press release from the Coalition Provisional Authority declared. “An additional 100 IPA guards are currently undergoing Olive Security training classes to give the port more than 200 trained guards.”

The firm describes itself as “one of the most highly vetted security firms in the UK.”

“Based in the Middle East, Olive Security now provides a wide range of corporate security training courses for all elements of major organisations, including senior executives, country managers, expatriate staff, security professionals and locally-recruited staff, including drivers,” Olive asserts on an website for Iraq contractors.

“Olive has established an unrivalled understanding of corporate security requirements in the region through operations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq and others in support of leading global corporations,” they add. “Olive offers clients an integrated approach to security training across countries and business units. The company's core training courses include security management, anti-surveillance, anti-kidnapping and driver and medical training.”

Also of note: The firm’s attorneys are Baker, Botts, LLP – a lawfirm where former Secretary of State to President George H. W. Bush is a partner. Baker Botts opened an office in Dubai last year.

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