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[casi] Thieves, not Qusay...


Two days ago, the media widely circulated a news item
saying that Qusay, Saddam's son, had taken one billion
dollars in 100 dollar notes from the Central Bank in
Baghdad two days before the beginning of military
actions. The story described graphically how the
operation was conducted, who was present, the number
of trucks invloved etc...

It seems the whole story was another fabrication...

The following story from UPI is worth reading.


Iraq bank manager: Thieves, not Qusay
By Ghassan al-Kadi
>From the International Desk
Published 5/6/2003 3:05 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 6 (UPI) -- A top Iraqi banker
Tuesday denied a news report that accused Saddam
Hussein's younger son, Qusay, of taking $1 billion in
cash from Iraq's Central Bank a day before the United
States launched its war against the Arab nation. He
said the money was looted by professional thieves.

Diyaa Habib al-Khayoun, general manager of al-Rafidain
Bank, told United Press International that some $250
million and 18 billion Iraqi dinars were stolen from
the bank, but Qusay had nothing to do with it.

"No money has been withdrawn from the bank's main
headquarters or branches" by any official of the
former regime, including Qusay, al-Khayoun said.

The comments followed Tuesday's New York Times report
that said Qusay took $1 billion in cash from Iraq's
Central Bank at about 4 a.m. March 18, one day before
the United States launched the war to topple his
father's regime.

The Times quoted an unidentified Iraqi senior banking
official as saying, "When you get an order from Saddam
Hussein, you do not discuss it."

Three tractor-trailers were needed to carry the money,
the newspaper said. The haul took a team of workers
two hours to load, and was completed before employees
of the Baghdad bank arrived for work.

Al-Khayoun, however, said "professional thieves
succeeded in opening the safe" of al-Rafidain's 70
branches in Baghdad "and in stealing their content" in
the weeks following Saddam's ouster and Baghdad's
capture by U.S. forces. Al-Rafidain reportedly had
roughly $4 billion in hard currency reserves before
the war.

In Washington the U.S. State Department spokesman
Richard Boucher confirmed the Times report.

"We do know from Treasury Department officials in
Baghdad that approximately $1 billion was taken from
the Iraqi Central Bank by Saddam Hussein and his
family just prior to the start of combat operations,"
he said, adding leads would be "actively" followed up.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "As a
general statement it is not surprising that Iraqis
would try to get their ill-gotten loot out of the
country and flee."

He said the United States had tracking systems that
may be able to find the money.

"Wherever it is, it is a source of concern for the
Iraqi people and therefore a source of concern for the
United States government," he said. "We'll do
everything we can through the normal means of the
Treasury Department, through diplomacy, to get that
money returned."

Al-Khayoun also said U.S. forces helped foil an
attempt to steal $250 million from two branches of the
bank in Baghdad. Al-Rafidain employees arrived just as
thieves were about to open the safe, he said, and the
rescued money was moved to a safe in the bank's
headquarters under the guard of U.S. troops.

He said the total deposits in al-Rafidain's 170
branches across Iraq amounted to "a trillion Iraqi
dinars" and assured depositors their money "is well
preserved and will be returned to them in the near
future because bank records have been preserved on
computer disks that were not touched by the thieves."

Before the war, the dinar plummeted in street value to
about 2,700 dinars to $1, and its future as Iraq's
unit of currency is as yet uncertain.

Security became a major concern following Saddam's
fall and there was widespread looting in Baghdad and
the rest of the country. Among items stolen were
treasures from Baghdad's famed museum.

In Lyon, France, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
said much of the looting of the priceless artifacts
was done by "organized criminal groups." He said the
FBI was hunting for them.

U.S. military police began to patrol the streets of
Baghdad Tuesday and established positions in
residential neighborhoods in an effort to restore
normal life. Looting and other unrest have continued
in the Iraqi capital since its fall to U.S. forces
April 9.

In Washington, President Bush appointed former U.S.
Ambassador and counter-terrorism expert L. Paul Bremer
as the chief civil administrator for Iraq. Bremer
supplants retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who is
currently in charge of helping rebuild Iraq and
establishing an interim government.

"Ambassador Bremer will report to Secretary of Defense
(Donald) Rumsfeld and will advise the president,
through the secretary, on policies designed to achieve
American and coalition goals for Iraq," the White
House said in a statement.

In Baghdad, dozens of members of U.S. military police,
carrying light weapons, were seen imposing order among
the long lines around gas stations while others,
backed by armored vehicles, staged foot patrols in
various parts of the city.

Some 2,000 Iraqi police officers and patrolmen have
reportedly rejoined their forces but their presence
remains scarce on Baghdad's streets. Some who gathered
at the local police school told UPI they don't trust
instructions issued by the U.S. forces and said that
was the reason their former commander, Brig. Zuheir
al-Nuaimi, resigned last week. They also complained
the U.S. representatives have not made good on their
promise to advance them $20 each on their salaries,
which they have not received for two months.

The "Information Radio," run by the U.S. Army and
broadcast from Baghdad International Airport, appealed
to Iraqis to remain calm and keep away from locations
that may bring them into confrontations between U.S.
forces and local gunmen.

Unrest continued, however. On Tuesday, a man tossed a
hand grenade into a car carrying three people in a
popular market near the Liberation Square in central
Baghdad, where stolen equipment and goods were being
sold. The three passengers were killed, witnesses

Many shops and restaurants have remained closed for
fear of looters, but are gradually reopening.
Satellite dishes and receivers as well as Ath Thuraya
international telephone lines are a booming business.
Under Saddam, Iraqis were forbidden to have access to
satellite TV stations and could only communicate with
the outside world via the well-controlled Iraqi
telecommunication centers.


(With Richard Tomkins at the White House and Michael
Kirkland at the Justice Department)

Copyright  2001-2003 United Press International

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