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Friends, 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. HZ ----------------------------------------- http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030506-124152-1175r 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 "No money has been withdrawn from the bank's main headquarters or branches" by any official of the former regime, including Qusay, al-Khayoun said.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 said. 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. -0- (With Richard Tomkins at the White House and Michael Kirkland at the Justice Department) Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo. http://search.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk