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[casi] News, 18-25/06/03 (4)

News, 18-25/06/03 (4)


*  Disease outbreak reported: Cholera in Iraq - Update 3
*  IRAQ: Hundreds of Palestinian refugees evicted by landlords
*  Japan named top UNICEF donor for Iraq
*  Humanitarian groups alarmed by water emergencies in Iraq
*  Deadly waste returned to US forces


*  Kurds ban weapons in Northern Iraq
*  Kurds Issue al-Qaida Warning for N. Iraq


*  Iraq's museums: what really happened
*  Looters Stole 6,000 Artifacts
*  What really happened at the Baghdad museum?


*  U.S. Captures Key Hussein Aide
*  U.S. stepping up appeals to Iraqi scientists
*  DNA tests after missiles strike 'Saddam convoy'
*  [US attack on Syrian border guards] from Six British soldiers killed in
continuing Iraqi resistance
*  Saddam's closest aides may be trying to flee to Belarus


World Health Organization (WHO), 19th June

>From 28 April to 4 June 2003, a total of 73 laboratory-confirmed cholera
cases have been reported in Iraq : 68 in Basra governorate, 4 in Missan
governorate, 1 in Muthana governorate. No deaths have been reported. (see
previous report)

>From 17 May to 4 June 2003, the daily surveillance system of diarrhoeal
disease cases in the four main hospitals of Basra reported a total of 1549
cases of acute watery diarrhea. Among these cases, 25.6 % occurred in
patients aged 5 years and above.

The water supply situation is critical. Short-term measures have been
undertaken by UNICEF and local authorities to improve accessibility to safe
drinking water and to limit the spread of water-borne epidemics.

WHO is supporting local authorities in implementing an early warning
communicable disease surveillance system, in strengthening laboratory
capacity and in coordinating the cholera outbreak response.

The surveillance system is being expanded to the whole Lower South (all 4
governorates) and weekly reports from all facilities have begun.

UNICEF is also supporting the initiative by providing health education
material in Arabic and chlorine tablets to all health directorates.

IRIN, (UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated
Regional Information Network), 19th June

BAGHDAD, 19 Jun 2003 (IRIN) - Haifa Sports Club used to be a Palestinian
cultural centre in Baladiyat in northeastern Baghdad. The Palestinian flag
flies high with a sign next to it saying "No to settlements and yes to the
right of return". But since the fall of Saddam Hussein, some Palestinians
have found themselves discriminated against and homeless. Now the club has
been turned into an informal refugee camp to accommodate about 250 families.

"Right after the war, the Iraqi landlord came to the flat and forced me and
my husband to leave the house we lived in for more than 25 years," Subhiyah
Abd al-Qadir told IRIN from a dusty tent set up on the soccer pitch at the
club. The Palestinian added that some of the other families in neighbouring
tents had landlords threatening them with guns to empty their flats
immediately and leave.

"We sold our furniture, we left some of our stuff behind and took whatever
we took quickly and put it here in the club in some rooms," she said.

Subhiyah has painfully swollen legs from sleeping on the ground as summer
temperatures soar. At night she is plagued by mosquitoes. With intermittent
supplies of water and electricity conditions in the camp are rapidly
deteriorating. Muhammed Nafi, who lives in one of the tents, put a wet towel
in front of his fan to ease the hot breeze. Like many families in Baghdad
now following the war, Nafi lost his job in a printing house, and he and his
family live on the salary of his wife, who works as a teacher.

David Bellamy, the UNHCR representative in Baghdad, told IRIN that some
Palestinians in Iraq were victims of post-conflict turbulence along with
other minorities. He added that Palestinians in Iraq were in a vulnerable
position now, because there is little in the way of external support for the
group. "Only Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt get
help from UNHCR," he added.

All the Palestinian families currently homeless in Baghdad had been living
in apartments rented to them by the Ministry of Social Affairs for less than
US $1 per week; this reportedly caused resentment among some Iraqis, who
have to pay many times this amount in rent.

The Palestinian community in Iraq is well established. Muhammad Salih
al-Maddi, head of the Council of Palestinian Families in Baghdad, told IRIN
about 35,000 Palestinians had sought refuge in Iraq after the 1948
Arab-Israeli war, and a similar number came from Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait
and Gaza following conflict in those countries. Al-Maddi believes that
Iraq's Palestinian refugees did not really enjoy special privileges during
Saddam's regime and that Saddam had embraced them primarily to gain kudos in
the Arab and Islamic world.

Although Palestinians in Iraq have the right to work and own property, many
of them ended up in there after being expelled from other Arab countries.
Many have told of discrimination in the job market. "They [Palestinians]
don't own much, with many living two or three families together in a flat,"
Al-Maddi told IRIN. He added that the Iraqi government would grant other
Arab citizens Iraqi nationality but withhold it from Palestinians, who still
had travel documents after so many years in the country.

UNHCR has offered many tents to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Iraqi
Red Crescent, who rapidly established the refugee camp in the sports club.
It also offered blankets, rubbish bins, and other items, and is giving free
lifts to young women and girls too frightened to travel alone to schools and

"We raised the issue with the US-led administration, as the situation is the
most difficult the Palestinians have faced since they arrived to this
country," Bellamy said. "We identified some 400 apartments in the Baladiyat
area, and we're negotiating with the Coalition administration and the
Ministry of Social Affairs to give them to the Palestinians," he added.
UNHCR is continuing its programme begun in May 2002 as a long-term solution
to allocate Palestinians grants and land to build more permanent


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003

Japan has been recognized as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) top donor for
relief efforts in Iraq after presenting UNICEF with a $10.2 million
contribution to support the reopening of schools across the country, the UN
News Center reported on 2 June. Japan's total contribution to UNICEF exceeds
$15 million. "We are delighted that Japan has responded so quickly and so
generously to the urgent needs of Iraqi children," UNICEF Executive Director
Carol Bellamy said in a statement. "The needs are very urgent and we are
grateful for this strong and early support," she added.     According to the
UN News Center, most of Iraq's 8,500 schools require cleaning or repair. In
addition, 5,000 schools need to be constructed to accommodate all of Iraq's
12 million school-age children. There is also a shortage of trained
teachers. In addition, less than half of all the primary schools in Iraq
have access to potable water, raising hygiene and sanitation concerns.
Japan's contribution will help some one million children in three cities.
Some $3.5 million will help rehabilitate 70 schools -- 30 in Baghdad and 40
in southern Iraq, while some $6.2 million will go to pay for teaching and
learning supplies. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


by Greg Barrett
Gannett News Service, 23rd June

WASHINGTON: Iraq's water infrastructure largely survived the 15,000 bombs of
war, but it buckled under the crazed aftermath. Looting, lawlessness and
unreliable electricity have handicapped or crippled hundreds of water lines,
sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, and depleted supply warehouses.

In the southern port city of Basra, where ground water is naturally salty
and brackish and water wells are useless, humanitarian organizations began
reporting an alarming shortage in potable water as far back as April.

Yet on May 15, the newly arrived chief of the U.S.-led civilian authority
described Basra's water quality as good. "Better than it has been in years,"
boasted Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

The pronouncement was in stark contrast with comments from World Health
Organization and UNICEF officials who at that moment were warning of
waterborne epidemics in Iraq's second-largest city.

Bremer's statement points to the problems faced by strangers parachuting
into a foreign country to assess and govern it, aid workers say. The
Pentagon said he based his conclusion in part on the high levels of chlorine
detected at Basra's water treatment plants. But aid workers in the field
were checking the water lines running into town and the tap water in
residential homes and found no chlorine, only pollution.

Geoff Keele of UNICEF believes this was a result from pollution seeping into
holes in the line and overwhelming the system. Some residents on the
outskirts of Basra so fear entering the relative anarchy of downtown to
retrieve their drinking water that they have shot or pounded holes in the
main water line that stretches for 10 miles above ground. The holes let in
bacteria and polluted ground water, Keele said.

UNICEF blames some of the more than 500 breaks found in the water lines of
Baghdad to the "shocks that the bombing sent through the ground." But Keele
said the looting that followed "has created far more damage than the combat

There are lakes of raw sewage in Baghdad caused by spotty electricity from
the damaged and looted power plants that drive the sewage treatment plants.
Emergency generators are available, but they can operate the plants at about
half of normal capacity.

Keele said the United States, Britain and Australia - the primary members of
the coalition authority - are working to improve conditions in Iraq, but
"have a steep learning curve.

"UNICEF has been in the country and acting on the ground for 20 years,"
Keele said from his hotel in Baghdad. "The coalition authorities will have
to build those (kind of) relationships, and that takes time. ...
Unfortunately, the people don't have much time. They are feeling desperate."
>From April 28 to June 4, WHO recorded 73 cases of cholera in Iraq.
Sixty-eight of those were in Basra - 10 times more than WHO officials found
during the same period last year.

Cholera, an infectious waterborne disease, is caused by a bacteria that
thrives in heat. Temperatures in Iraq already exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit,
and the hottest months of summer lie ahead.

"Diarrhea may sound trivial to much of the world, but in Iraq - and in these
conditions - it can kill," said Hans von Sponeck, a former chief of U.N.
humanitarian missions to Iraq.

On Sunday, more than a month after WHO first warned of waterborne epidemics
developing in Basra, the Pentagon approved a private contract to replace
parts for the city's four water treatment plants.

Military officials also rehired 2,000 Basra police officers to discourage
outlaws from looting power plants, pumping stations and supply warehouses. A
main pumping station that serves 100,000 people in Basra was looted of its
equipment, wiring, doors, frames, even the nuts and bolts, Keele said.

Margaret Hassan, Country Director of Iraq for the humanitarian group CARE
International, sounded unimpressed with the beefed-up security. "It's a bit
after the horse has bolted, if you know what I mean," she said.

Two of CARE's vehicles have been car-jacked, and one of its warehouse guards
was shot in May.

Today, emergency crews from UNICEF are in southern Iraq repairing pumping
stations, water lines, sewage treatment plants, and distributing pamphlets
that explain why the water lines should not be tapped directly.

They also are directing a convoy of water tankers and tractor trailers that
began arriving in mid-June with a three-month supply of chlorine to treat
water. That will supplement an emergency supply of chlorine ordered recently
by the coalition authority.

In the first eight months of 1991, after Iraq's water infrastructure was
damaged by the Persian Gulf War, the New England Journal of Medicine
reported that nearly 47,000 more children than normal died in Iraq and the
country's infant mortality rate doubled to 92.7 per 1,000 live births.

People dehydrated by diarrhea and cholera will typically consume more water.
With the main water line in Basra damaged, some residents are drawing their
drinking water from irrigation canals that teem with the fetid waste from
malfunctioning sewage treatment plants.

A shortage of cooking gas - or its inaccessibility - is preventing some
people from boiling the canal water, Keele said. Some Iraqis are stripping
bark from trees to use as firewood. Others descended on schools in Basra
where the Iraqi military stored crates containing live mortar rounds. They
dumped the rounds onto the ground and took the wooden crates to burn.

As recently as Friday, WHO continued to call the water situation in Basra
critical and warned that relief measures undertaken by UNICEF were only for
the short term.

"You can't recall the war, but this issue is a live one. If we do the just
thing and the sane thing and the humane thing, then we can save a lot of
(innocent) lives," said George Washington University professor Tom Nagy, who
traveled to Iraq this winter with a team of engineering and health

Nagy's group toured hospitals and water treatment plants to assess the
civilian consequences of war. He joined von Sponeck in warning the United
States about Iraq's fragile civilian infrastructure.

During 13 years of U.N. economic sanctions, pumps, pipes and other
water-system supplies coming into Iraq were vetted for fear that they would
be converted into weapons. Sanctions turned Iraqis into a "society of
fixers," said von Sponeck, who resigned his U.N. post in 2000 to protest the

"They were always trying to fix stuff that was dilapidated and should have
long ago been abandoned, discarded, replaced. The system was extremely
fragile even before the war."

Navy Cmdr. Chris Isleib of the Coalition Provisional Authority blames former
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for the flawed infrastructure. Isleib said
help is on the way.

"The situation is getting better every day, but it is far from ideal," he
said. "We go in there with a lot of smart people and as much money as we can
bring but it is not a perfect place with a perfect plan. We can't do
miracles here. It is going to take time."

Greenpeace International press statement, 24th June

IRAQ/Baghdad - They claimed they were after weapons of mass destruction, but
then allowed nuclear material to be carried off by the barrel. They said
errant nuclear waste poses no health threat to the people in Iraq, but then
denied access to experts.

Today we delivered a dose of reality to the occupying forces: villages
surrounding the Tuwaitha nuclear complex, just south of Baghdad, are
contaminated with deadly radiation. Clean up must begin now.

A convoy of vehicles bearing Greenpeace banners that read "Al Tuwaitha -
nuclear disaster - Act now!" with a single activist walking at its head,
carrying a white flag, returned a large uranium "yellow cake" mixing
canister to the US military guards stationed at the heart of the nuclear
plant. The canister - the size of a small car - contained significant
quantities of radioactive "yellowcake" and had been dumped on a busy section
of open ground near the Tuwaitha plant. Despite the military being aware of
its presence, locals say it has been left open and unattended for more than
20 days.

"If this had happened in the UK, the US or any other country, the villages
around Tuwaitha would be swarming with radiation experts and decontamination
teams. It would have been branded a nuclear disaster site and the people
given immediate medical check-ups. The people of Iraq deserve no less from
the international community. That they are being ignored is a scandal that
must be rectified without delay," said Mike Townsley of Greenpeace

Our radiation experts have found abandoned uranium "yellowcake" and
radioactive sources scattered across the community. Much of the material was
looted from the facility by villagers who used it for house building and
water and food storage. They did not realise the potential danger. In a week
long survey, as well as the "yellow cake" canister, Greenpeace uncovered:

  radioactivity in a series of houses, including one source measuring
10,000 times above normal   another source outside a 900 pupil primary
school measuring 3,000 times above normal   locals who are still storing
radioactive barrels and lids in their houses   another smaller radioactive
source abandoned in a nearby field   consistent and repeated stories of
unusual sickness after coming into contact with material from the Tuwaitha
plant several objects carrying radioactive symbols discarded in the

The preliminary survey and this morning's action in front of heavily armed
US troops highlights the total failure of the occupying forces to address
the urgent need for a full assessment, containment and clean up of missing
nuclear material from the Tuwaitha Nuclear facility.

The occupying forces have so far refused to allow the UN nuclear experts,
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to carry out proper
documentation and decontamination in Iraq. The US authorities in Baghdad
have insisted upon retaining responsibility for protecting human health but
consistently deny there is a risk to the local population.

Our team has only been surveying for eight days and has discovered
frightening levels of radioactive contamination. The IAEA must be allowed to
return with a full mandate to monitor and decontaminate. They may believe
they have accounted for most of the uranium, but what about the rest of the
radioactive material? If the inspectors are allowed to come out from the
shadow of the occupying forces and into the community, they can do the job

Latest update:

The team went further inside the Tuwaitha nuclear facility with the US army
to deliver the radioactive canister. They then accompanied the army to the
house in the village where we found radiation up to 10,000 times normal

The US army surveyed the area and confirmed the levels. They removed the
radioactive source and took it back to the Tuwaitha plant. The head of the
radiation unit for the US army there said that the WHO and the IAEA should
get there as soon as possible.

At the same time, the IAEA tells us that their inspectors are due to leave
today as their limited remit - to make an inventory of the uranium at
Tuwaitha - is done.



RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003

Kurdish government officials have agreed to implement Decree 16 of 1993,
issued by the Kurdistan National Assembly, which calls for the disarmament
of the Kurdish region. The decision was announced following a meeting
between the U.S. Army civil administration official in the Kurdistan region
and in Mosul, Colonel Harry Schute, and the interior ministers of the
Kurdistan Regional Government for Irbil -- Faraydun Abd al-Qadir -- and in
Sulaymaniyah, Karim Sinjari.     Abd al-Qadir told a press conference that
the implementation was in line with Decree 3 of 2003, issued by the
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which calls for the disarmament of
Iraq. Sinjari said that since the fall of the Hussein regime, there is no
longer a need for citizens to remain armed. Citizens have been given 15 days
to turn in their light and heavy weapons.     Kurdish Peshmerga forces and
internal security forces are permitted to retain firearms in their
possession that were issued by the regional government and registered.
However, they may only carry the firearms while in uniform. Nonetheless, a
statement read by Abd al-Qadir emphasized that the Interior Ministry must
license anyone wishing to carry a firearm. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

Yahoo, 20th June

TUWELLA, Iraq (AP): Beyond the ridge where the Zagros Mountains divide Iran
and Iraq, several hundred Islamic militants vanished into the early spring

On the eve of the Iraq war in March, a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles and a
sweep by thousands of Kurdish soldiers cleared the fighters of Ansar
al-Islam from mountain strongholds of northeast Iraq from where they had
plagued the Kurds for years. Now, there are signs that the group, suspected
to have links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, is coming back.

"We are intercepting reports that elements of Ansar al-Islam are becoming
active again," said Barham Salih, prime minister of the eastern sector of
the Kurds' autonomous region in northern Iraq.

The Kurds suggest people in Iran may be training and sheltering Ansar
militants and helping them enter Iraq. They cite intelligence that a dozen
Ansar activists sneaked into Baghdad in early April, before Saddam Hussein's
capital fell to the U.S. onslaught.

"One day, they can be used to launch operations against the Americans," said
Shaho Mohamad Sayid, a Kurdish leader overseeing the area near the Iranian
border where Ansar once operated.

On June 10, a military commander of the town of Kalar, near the oil-rich
city of Kirkuk, was killed when he tried to arrest a suspected Ansar
militant who set off a suicide bomb.

When asked about Ansar, Col. William Mayville, commander of the U.S. Army's
173rd Airborne brigade based in Kirkuk, said his men are on the lookout for
Islamic militants when patrolling the area.

"There's always been an understanding that there is the presence of
terrorists in every city or village in this country," he said.

The group included veterans of bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Colin Powell mentioned Ansar as part of the "sinister
nexus" linking Baghdad to al Qaida when he made his case for war to the U.N.
Security Council in February.

Ansar had taken control of a slice of the Kurdish-controlled area near the
Iranian border, enforcing a version of Islam only slightly less stringent
than the Taliban in Afghanistan: Men had to have untrimmed beards, and women
were ordered to cover their heads.

The group carried out suicide bombings, car bombs, assassinations and raids
on militiamen and politicians of the secular Kurdish government, killing
scores of people over the last two years.

During the war, U.S. special forces troops and Kurdish fighters destroyed an
Ansar base and Tomahawk missiles were launched at the group's positions.

U.S. counterterrorism officials say the group has suffered significant
losses but the survivors are still dangerous.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, included Ansar
among five anti American groups operating in Iraq.

"There's this Ansar al-Islam group that's been in there since before we went
in," he said in a June 14 interview with the Fox Television network.
"They've been in there for years."

A June 13 article in Al-Sharq Al-Aswat, a London-based Arab daily, raised
the alarm of a possible Ansar return. It reported that Abu Abdullah
al-Shafei, an Ansar leader, was calling for guerrilla warfare against the
coalition occupation.

In the alleged communique, al-Shafei urged a shift to hit-and-run tactics
against the secular Kurdish parties and the Americans, and called on
supporters to provide weapons, recruits and money.

Concerns about Ansar al-Islam were fueled by anecdotal intelligence, mostly
from informants traveling across the Iranian border, that Ansar is active
and regrouping in the Iranian cities of Meriwan, Sina and Marakhel. Ansar
leaders were allegedly spotted in the Iranian city of Sandandaj not long

"They're generally unarmed, moving from place to place without staying
anywhere permanently," said Mehdi Said Ali, Kurdish military commander of
the border area.

The Kurds have passed on to the Americans raw intelligence alleging that 20
to 30 Ansar activists had been sent to Tehran for training, and some were
being sent to Baghdad for operations against the Americans, Kurdish official
Aso Hatem said.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has denied any links between the largely Shiite
Muslim country and the Sunni Muslim radicals that make up both Ansar and
al-Qaida. Ansar members frequently harassed Shiite Iraqis as infidels.

Though Ansar individuals and small cells might be able to cross the border,
Kurds say they'll never be able to return in numbers large enough to seize
the vast territory they once held.

Now freed from Ansar's rule, the residents of towns like Biyare, Tuwella and
Khormal  200 miles northeast of Baghdad  vow they'll never let the Islamic
radicals come back.

The men have shaved, the women have relaxed their dress and the shops have
begun selling beer. Tourism is returning to the cool mountain canyons.

"Ansar is finished," said Karwan Jami, 19, of Tuwella. "They're not
frightening to us like they used to be."

LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT,3604,979675,00.html

by Eleanor Robson
The Guardian, 18th June

What is the true extent of the losses to the Iraq Museum -170,000 objects or
only 33? The arguments have raged these past two weeks as accusations of
corruption, incompetence and cover-ups have flown around. Most notably, Dan
Cruickshank's BBC film Raiders of the Lost Art insinuated that the staff had
grossly misled the military and the press over the extent of the losses,
been involved with the looting themselves, allowed the museum to be used as
a military position, and had perhaps even harboured Saddam Hussein. The
truth is less colourful.

Two months ago, I compared the demolition of Iraq's cultural heritage with
the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, and the 5th-century destruction of
the library of Alexandria. On reflection, that wasn't a bad assessment of
the present state of Iraq's cultural infrastructure. Millions of books have
been burned, thousands of manuscripts and archaeological artefacts stolen or
destroyed, ancient cities ransacked, universities trashed.

At the beginning of this year, the staff, led by Dr Dony George and Dr
Nawala al-Mutawalli, began to pack up the museum in a well-established
routine first devised during the Iran-Iraq war. Defensive bunkers were dug
in the grounds. Early in April, Dr John Curtis, head of the Ancient Near
East department at the British Museum, described a recent visit to Baghdad
during which the museum staff were sandbagging objects too big to be moved,
packing away smaller exhibits, and debating "the possibility of using bank
vaults and bunkers if the worst came".

The worst did come. On April 11 the news arrived that the museum had been
looted. We later discovered that there had been a two-day gun battle, at the
start of which the remaining museum staff fled for their lives. Fedayeen
broke into a storeroom and set up a machine gun at a window.

While senior Iraqi officials were begging for help in Baghdad, the US Civil
Affairs Brigade in Kuwait was also trying from April 12 to get the museum
protected. They already knew that its most valuable holdings were in vaults
of the recently bombed Central Bank. The museum was secured on April 16, but
it took until April 21 for Civil Affairs to arrive.

Captain William Sumner wrote to me that day: "It seems that most of the
museum's artefacts had been moved to other locations, but the ones that were
looted were 'staged' at an area so that they would be easier to access. It
was a very professional action. The spare looting you saw on the news were
the excess people who came in to pick over what was left." In other words,
there was no cover-up: the military were informed immediately that the
evacuation procedures had been effective. Suspicions remained that a single
staff member may have assisted the core looters. But, Sumner says: "It might
have been one of the grounds people, or anybody. I suspect that we will
never know."

Within a week the museum was secure enough for George to travel to London.
At a press conference he circulated a list of some 25 smashed and stolen
objects which the curators had been unable to move from the public galleries
before the war. They included the now famous Warka vase, which had been
cemented in place. Last week it was returned in pieces. Other losses came
from the corridor where objects were waiting to be moved off-site. George
was understandably reluctant to reveal the location of the off-site storage
to the Civil Affairs Brigade as security was still non-existent.

Inventories of the badly vandalised storerooms finally began after the
catalogues were pieced together from the debris of the ransacked offices. Dr
John Russell, an expert in looted Iraqi antiqui ties, made a room-by-room
report for Unesco late in May. He noted that most of the objects that had
been returned since the looting "were forgeries and reproductions". Other
losses, he reported, included some 2,000 finds from last season's
excavations at sites in central Iraq. His summary tallied well with
George's. "Some 30 major pieces from exhibition galleries. Unknown thousands
of excavated objects from storage. Major works from galleries smashed or
damaged." The unknown thousands are beginning to be quantified. Expert
assessors in Vienna last week estimated the losses from the museum
storerooms at between 6,000 and 10,000.

Outside the Iraq Museum, the picture is equally grim. At Baghdad University,
classrooms, laboratories and offices have been vandalised, and equipment and
furniture stolen or destroyed. Student libraries have been emptied. Nabil
al-Tikriti of the University of Chicago reported in May that the Ministry of
Endowments and Religious Affairs lost 600-700 manuscripts in a malicious
fire and more than 1,000 were stolen. The House of Wisdom and the Iraqi
Academy of Sciences were also looted. The National Library was burned to the
ground and most of its 12 million books are assumed to have been

In the galleries of Mosul Museum, cuneiform tablets were stolen and smashed.
The ancient cities of Nineveh, Nimrud, and Hatra lost major sculpture to
looting. The situation is far worse in the south. Some 15-20 large
archaeological sites, mostly ancient Sumerian cities, were comprehensively
pillaged by armed gangs.

It will take years of large-scale international assistance and delicate
diplomacy to return the Iraq Museum to functionality. The process is deeply
charged with the politics of occupation and post-Ba'athist reaction. The
Civil Affairs officers are discovering that senior staff are not necessarily
enamoured of the American way, while junior staff are testing their newfound
freedom to complain about their bosses. One insider commented: "George might
make them work instead of read papers. And that is what all the fuss is

The British School of Archaeology in Iraq and the British Museum now have
staff working in the Iraq Museum, while other organisations worldwide are
fundraising. George, Mutawalli and his colleagues have achieved the
extraordinary in preserving as much as they have. We now need to help them
salvage as much as possible from the wreckage and re-establish the country's
cultural infrastructure so that Iraqis can plan their future knowing their
past is secure.

Eleanor Robson is a council member of the British School of Archaeology in
Iraq and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford:

by Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post, 21st June

U.S. and Iraqi officials have confirmed the theft of at least 6,000
artifacts from Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities during a prolonged
looting spree as U.S. forces entered Baghdad two months ago, a leading
archaeologist said yesterday.

University of Chicago archaeologist McGuire Gibson said the U.S. Bureau of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement told him June 13 that the official count
of missing items had reached 6,000 and was climbing as museum and Customs
investigators proceeded with an inventory of three looted storerooms.

The June 13 total was double the number of stolen items reported by Customs
a week earlier, and Gibson suggested the final tally could be "far, far
worse." Customs could not immediately obtain an updated report, a spokesman

The mid-June count was the latest in a confusing chain of seemingly
contradictory estimates of losses at the museum, the principal repository of
artifacts from thousands of Iraqi archaeological sites documenting human
history from the dawn of civilization 7,000 years ago to the pinnacle of
medieval Islam.

It now appears, however, that although the losses were not nearly as grave
as early reports indicated, they go far beyond the 33 items known to have
been taken from the museum's display halls. Gibson said looters sacked two
ground-floor storerooms and broke into a third in the basement. Two other
storerooms appear to have been untouched.

Gibson noted that there are "thousands of things that are broken" but not
listed as missing. And teams of archaeologists sent by the National
Geographic Society found widespread looting of artifacts from sites outside
Baghdad. None of these are museum pieces, and most were simply plucked from
the ground.

"Like any museum, the display collection is an iceberg," Gibson said.
"Because this is an archaeological museum, there's a huge amount of stuff
that's important to the sites themselves and to researchers, but never goes
on display."

Looters broke into the downtown Baghdad museum and sacked it for several
days in early April as U.S. forces toppled the government of Saddam Hussein
and took possession of the Iraqi capital. U.S. soldiers were harshly
criticized for standing idle as the looters rampaged through the building.

The museum housed 170,000 numbered items and thousands more artifacts that
had either not yet been catalogued or had been set aside in a ground-floor
"study collection" storeroom for researchers to examine.

Reporters and investigators arriving in the first days after the looting saw
a virtually empty museum that had been thoroughly trashed. They assumed the
worst, Gibson said, an impression that the museum staff did not seek to

In fact, the staff -- anticipating possible looting -- had spirited away a
huge portion of the inventory, including almost everything portable in the
display collection, and stashed it either in the basement or in off-site
bunkers, Gibson said. Staff had also hidden a gold collection in a Central
Bank vault during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and never removed it.

When U.S. authorities took their first close look at the damage, it appeared
the finest artifacts had been "cherry-picked" by thieves with inside
knowledge. Some U.S. officials suggested that staff members might have been

"This was unfortunate" but easily explained, Gibson said. Bitterly offended
by U.S. forces' failure to protect the museum from the looters, staffers
"were not going to give information on where things were," he added. Today,
museum staff and U.S. investigators from Customs and the FBI have "a very
good relationship," Gibson said.

Although the display collection lost only a few heavy, nonremovable
artifacts that were either cut in pieces or ripped from their pedestals, the
overall toll was much worse. Staff members began to inventory the museum's
five storerooms in May. Losses there numbered in the thousands.

Both ground-floor storerooms had been looted, Gibson said. One housed the
study collection, while the other held shelved artifacts and about 10 steel
trunks containing as-yet unnumbered material from recent digs. All the
trunks had been opened and emptied, Gibson said.

Two basement storerooms appeared to be untouched, including one containing
most of the museum's priceless collection of cuneiform tablets, Gibson said.
The third had been breached, however, and contained "some of the most
important stuff in the museum, including pottery and ivory inlays," he

by Dan Cruickshank
The Guardian, 19th June

When the director of research at the Baghdad museum, Donny George, first
issued his emotive plea to the world about the thousands of items missing or
stolen, he didn't seem to realise that, along with emotion, it would also
generate a determination to investigate. I went to find out what happened,
and discovered compelling evidence not only that the initial figure
attributed to the museum - 170,000 items lost or destroyed - was a huge
exaggeration, but also that some of the looting may have been an inside job.
It also seemed to me that treasures may have been plundered by senior
Baathists long before the war.

In addition, we found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other arms in
a storeroom. This seemed to prove that the museum had indeed been a prepared
military position, just as the Americans had claimed, not a cultural site
that had, by chance, become embroiled in the battle for Baghdad.

But now the waters are being muddied, and old reports and information are
being recycled, creating confusion. The article in yesterday's Guardian by
Eleanor Robson, a fellow of All Souls college and an archaeologist
specialising in Iraq, seems to me to be a case in point.

Nobody is disputing that many things have gone missing, but the questions
are, who took them, and when? Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, the New York lawyer
coordinating the US search for missing antiquities, said in a recent report
in collaboration with George that there were 33 major pieces still missing.
Then the sacred Warka Vase reappeared, so now there are 32. Along with the
many smaller items, it's very possible that the 6,000 to 10,000 figure that
Robson cites may be accurate.

But as the five museum storerooms have been examined more thoroughly in
recent weeks, they have turned out not to have been ransacked. Only three
were entered by thieves and only key items, their locations known only to a
few people, had been removed.

Furthermore, many of the 33 major pieces supposedly taken from the galleries
are extremely valuable, and very small - prime candidates for being put into
storage pre-war. So why hadn't they? That led me to conclude that, quite
possibly, they had disappeared some time ago.

The news this week that the museum staff were staging a revolt against the
senior personnel didn't surprise me, either: it was clear to me that they
were unhappy, and I was even shown a whip that had apparently been used on
them by members of the museum security department. They talked about the
upper echelons of the museum hierarchy - people such as George - being
Baathists who had to report on them. The whole culture of terror that you
would associate with a totalitarian regime was in place.

That fear may explain the whereabouts of other missing items: I went to the
place where 4,000 manuscripts were being stored and the people there said
they did not want to return them - they did not trust the Baathists at the

As well as adding to the confusion over the looting, Robson repeats as fact
the claim that the bunkers in the museum grounds were purely defensive, but
that's one of the things that is under dispute. The Americans claim there
were 150 Iraqi soldiers there, and that the bunkers were fighting positions
- and they cited evidence for this. Pretending that this question is settled
is a very significant sleight of hand.

Robson also says the arms found in the museum storeroom were there because
Fedayeen had broken into it. But they hadn't - the door was open and the
lock intact when US soldiers arrived. Who unlocked it and when remains a

That said, I'm quite prepared to believe that the museum heads are victims,
not villains - that they are being terrorised by high-ranking former
Baathists who are threatening to kill them if they say what really happened.
But, for now, great caution must be exercised before the museum is handed
back to them: there are so many inconsistencies, and they are tainted by
being members of a foul regime, even if they weren't themselves foul members
of it. Emotionally, it may be impossible for them to reconcile what has
actually happened with anything that it would be acceptable to say now.

Part of the museum is due to reopen on July 3, and I am very alarmed about
that. Are these artefacts safe? Really? What we need now is to discover the
truth. We need to know what really happened. An attempt to patch over the
cracks - to smooth things over for George and his chums - is exactly what we
don't need here.


by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post, 19th June

BAGHDAD, June 18 -- U.S. forces in Iraq have captured a senior and trusted
aide to former president Saddam Hussein, the person most wanted by the U.S.
government after Hussein and his two sons, U.S. military officials said

The seizure of Abid Hamid Mahmud could provide a much-needed break for U.S.
soldiers and intelligence operatives searching for Hussein and his sons.
Mahmud, who was the ace of diamonds in a deck of 55 playing cards depicting
former Iraqi officials sought by the United States, is regarded by U.S.
military and intelligence officials as one of the people most likely to know
whether the former president is still alive -- and if so, where he may be
hiding. Mahmud is also believed to know about Iraq's alleged possession of
chemical and biological weapons.

U.S. troops continued to come under fire today in Baghdad and other cities
near the capital. One U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded in a
shooting outside a propane station they were guarding in south Baghdad. A
few hours earlier, U.S. military police opened fire on a group of former
Iraqi soldiers who were hurling rocks outside the gates of the occupation
authority headquarters, killing two demonstrators in the most violent
protest in the capital since U.S. troops arrived.

Mahmud, a distant cousin of Hussein, was one of the very few people whom the
former president is believed to have trusted completely. Frequently pictured
at Hussein's side, he controlled access to Hussein and was intimately
familiar with his activities and his whereabouts at any given time. U.S.
officials say they believe only Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, could see
Hussein without going through Mahmud.

Mahmud also served as Hussein's top security adviser and would have had
access to most  - if not all -- of the government's closely guarded secrets,
including its weapons programs, U.S. officials said.

A British dossier on top Iraqi officials said Mahmud, a noncommissioned
officer who was selected by Hussein from his corps of bodyguards to become
his top aide, and was later promoted to lieutenant general, "is regarded by
some as the real number-two figure in the Iraqi leadership."

Mahmud was seized near Tikrit, the area from which he and Hussein hail,
located about 90 miles northwest of Baghdad, U.S. military officials said
tonight. They would not detail the circumstances of his capture and it was
not immediately clear whether the seizure of Mahmud was linked to the raid
of two farmhouses near Tikrit today. A U.S. Army general said that in the
raid, soldiers captured one of Hussein's bodyguards and as many as 50 other
people believed to be members of his security and intelligence services, the
elite Special Republican Guard or Baath Party paramilitary groups loyal to

The soldiers also found $8.5 million in U.S. currency, more than $200,000
worth of Iraqi bank notes and an undetermined amount of British pounds and
euros, said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry
Division. He said the troops also found more than $1 million worth of gems
and jewels.

Odierno said he did not know whether the cash was intended to pay bounties
for attacks on U.S. troops or to fund the Hussein loyalists while in hiding.

Russian-made night vision goggles, sniper rifles, uniforms and equipment
that belonged to Hussein's personal guard were also found at the sites,
Odierno said.

The general said the guards at the farmhouses readily surrendered to the
U.S. raiding parties. One Iraqi tried to flee but his movements were
followed by an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, Odierno said. He was
apprehended, and more than $800,000 was found in his vehicle.

The farmhouses were targeted based on information from Iraqi informants,
Odierno said, crediting similar "human intelligence" with providing the
basis for many of the raids U.S. troops have made in the past week.

The raid was part of a broad but controversial military operation aimed at
capturing Baath Party militiamen, who have been blamed for a series of
attacks on U.S. troops across central Iraq. Although more than 400 people
have been arrested since the operation, dubbed Desert Scorpion, began on
Sunday, many Iraqis have complained that U.S. troops have been overly

The operation, as well as an earlier sweep in a small town north of Baghdad,
also appears to be designed to gather intelligence about where Hussein may
be. In the town of Thuluya, several people who were detained and then
released said they were questioned about the location of Hussein and Mahmud.

Capturing Hussein -- or confirming that he is dead -- is viewed by many U.S.
officials here as the best way to reduce hostility directed at U.S. troops.
"There is this kind of evil suspicion that is certainly being promoted by
Baathists that they're going to come back someday," L. Paul Bremer III, the
head of the occupation authority, said in a recent interview. "If we can
once and for all confirm he's dead, or capture him, it takes the air out of
that balloon."

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged "a little
debate" underway in the U.S. government over the degree to which the
resistance is organized.

"I don't know anyone who is persuaded -- and has a real strong conviction --
that there is anything approximating a national or a regional organization
that is energizing and motivating these attacks," Rumsfeld said at a
Pentagon news conference. But he expressed the view that "small elements" of
up to 20 loyalists had coalesced to plan and finance attacks on U.S. forces.



RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003

U.S. Army Psychological Operations personnel are stepping up attempts to
persuade Iraqi scientists to come forward with information about Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, or in some cases to turn
themselves in, AP reported on 15 June. The news agency reported that
Baghdad-based Information Radio, an AM radio station the news agency says is
operated by army personnel, is broadcasting the appeal, in which a female
announcer says: "It's time to leave your hideouts.... If you come
voluntarily and give information about weapons of mass destruction and their
launch vehicles, the United States will do its best to give you a just trial
in accordance with the law." Information Radio operates from a portable
radio transmitter that was carried into Iraq by U.S. forces during the
invasion of Baghdad. According to AP, the station has made similar appeals
over the past two and a half months. Another frequently broadcast message
calls on Iraqis to turn in people that they know were involved in Iraq's
alleged WMD programs. (Kathleen Ridolfo),6903,982643,00.html

by Jason Burke in Baghdad
The Observer, 22nd June

American specialists were carrying out DNA tests last night on human remains
believed by US military sources to be those of Saddam Hussein and one of his
sons, The Observer can reveal.

The remains were retrieved from a convoy of vehicles struck last week by US
forces following 'firm' information that the former Iraqi leader and members
of his family were travelling in the Western Desert near Syria.

Military sources told The Observer that the strikes, involving an
undisclosed number of Hellfire missiles, were launched against the convoy
last Wednesday after the interception of a satellite telephone conversation
involving either Saddam or his sons. The operation, which has not yet been
disclosed by the Pentagon, involved the United States air force and ground
troops of the Third Armoured Cavalry Regiment based around Ramadi, a major
town 70 miles west of Baghdad.

Despite previously unfounded US claims that Saddam had been killed during
the bombing of Baghdad before the invasion by America and Britain, the
sources indicated that they were cautiously optimistic that they had finally
killed the target they described as 'the top man'.

Asked about rumours circulating in senior military circles about the
incident, one US officer with knowledge of the raid on the convoy said:
'That is unreleasable information. The Pentagon has to release that

The Pentagon last night refused to comment on what it called 'operational
matters'. However, other military sources indicated they were optimistic the
tests would show that Saddam and at least one of his two sons, Uday and
Qusay, were among the dead, although they stressed that a conclusive
identification of the men killed in the attack had not yet been made. The
convoy, composed of several four-wheel-drive luxury vehicles, was attacked
after the telephone call was intercepted. An air strike was then organised.

The sources confirmed that Uday Hussein, the deposed dictator's eldest son,
was thought to have been travelling with his father in the convoy. The
convoy is believed to have been heading for the Syrian border and was
intercepted near the frontier town of Qaim. Several such convoys heading for
the border were destroyed during the conflict in March and April.


Jordan Times (AFP), 25th June

The US drive to find Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass
destruction suffered further embarrassment after admission that troops
clashed with Syrian border guards in an attack on a convoy.

In the attack last Thursday, five Syrian nationals were wounded, said a
defence official in Washington.

Another official said the Syrians were border guards wounded in a subsequent

US special forces and airborne troops backed by aircraft took part in the
attack, launched in response to intelligence that the convoy was carrying
people associated with the deposed Iraqi regime, officials said.

But afterwards, no senior Iraqi leaders appeared to be in the convoy, the
officials said.

by Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
The Independent, 24th June

Senior officials of the former Iraqi regime may be trying to flee to
Belarus, according to evidence discovered when Saddam Hussein's chief aide
was captured last week.

Passports from the former Soviet republic were found with Abed Hamid
Mahmoud, Saddam's close confidant, when he was detained by American troops
near Tikrit a week ago, said Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish official privy to
intelligence on the hunt for Saddam Hussein.

"Abed Hamid had just returned from Syria where he had obtained the
passports, probably without the knowledge of the Syrian government," Mr
Zebari told The Independent. This is the first sign that members of Saddam's
inner circle are planning to flee outside the Arab world.

Belarus has poor relations with the US but it is unlikely that it would risk
hosting Saddam or his sons, Uday and Qusay. Iraqi officials might find it
easier to disappear in neighbouring Ukraine or Russia.


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