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[casi] U.S. 'Ali Babas'

U.S. 'Ali Babas' Inspire Iraqis Into Hiding Valuable

By Aws al-Sharqy, IOL Correspondent

BAGHDAD, September 23 ( - Helpless
before the U.S. soldiers who strip them clean of their
savings, the Iraqi people were inspired to create
methods to keep their money and belongings away from
the soldiers' hands, putting into application
"Necessity is the mother of invention" saying.

Now the Iraqis hide their savings, jewelry and other
valuable things in unthinkable places to put them out
of the sight of the soldiers, being aware that what is
"stolen" by U.S. soldiers is virtually lost forever.

"We heard about the U.S. robberies during their raids
on houses and my brother taught me how to hide our
money and jewelry in a belt under clothes, since they
(U.S. soldier) do not frisk Iraqi women," Ban Mohmmad
Hassan, an Iraqi woman from al-Obeidi district, told Tuesday, September 23.

"The other day, they ransack our house but found
nothing," she added.

Abdul Qadir Abdul Kareem, an Iraqi tradesman, often
changes his dinars into dollars, so that he can hide

"I don't keep any Iraqi dinars, because I find it hard
to hide them…I change all my profits into dollars,
since it is easier to hide $10,000 than its Iraqi
equivalent of 20 million dinars," Abdul Kareem said.

"I carved out a secret place in my house that cannot
be reached either by thieves or U.S. soldiers," he

As for my wife's jewels, he continued, a friend of
mine told me that the U.S. soldiers did not steal what
Iraqi women wore.

"Every time my wife gets to know about U.S. search
operation in a nearby area, she wears all her jewels,"
he said.

Aalaa Foad Hussein, a science student at
Al-Mustansiriya University, said that the U.S.
break-ins have become the talk of the students.

"Day in and day out, we used to hear about a friend
who had her jewels stolen by U.S. soldiers…Now we
advise one another to protect ourselves from the U.S.
surprise thefts," she said.

She added: "The thefts extended to military
checkpoints as well…Every day, we hear about dozens of
Iraqi youths who had been stolen by U.S. soldiers."
Hassan Yussuf, an Iraqi businessman, had his
satellite-operating cellular stolen at a checkpoint.

"They stopped my car at a checkpoint in al-Sayidia
area and snatched my Thuraya and when I wanted it back
they pointed their guns at me and threatened me to
leave the place right away, otherwise they would
shoot," Yussuf said.

He lodged a complaint with an Iraqi police station and
another with a U.S. military police station, but to no


Lieutenant Hussein Ali al-Yasseri, at Baghdad police
station, told that the station
received a myriad of stealing complaints, but they
could not bring the stolen things back to their
owners, because the Americans were not forthcoming.
"They receive the complaints and promise us to
investigate the matter and bring back the stolen
things, but they do not honor their promises," Yasseri

"They did not even make any effort to help the
complainers or care about proving the innocence of
their soldiers," he added.

He said there is no a central system to help Iraqis
restore their stolen things, so a lot of Iraqis are
now convinced that the Americans have come to their
country to steal their money and jewels.

Ayman Hadi al-Saadi, a teacher - 45 - said that U.S.
forces stormed his house on September 17 in a
provocative way and "tied our hands as if we were

"They turned the house upside down, and we could not
utter a word," Saadi said.

"When they've gone, my wife told me that her gold-made
necklace…I reported the incident to Iraqi officers,
who only said they were sorry for us," he added.


However, several U.S. officers interviewed by IOL
refused to discuss theft charges against their
soldiers, alleging that they only confiscated Iraqi
properties but stopped short of explaining why.

One officer blamed the "disappearance" of properties
on the negligence and misconduct of Iraqis, pointing
out that the reported thefts would alienate the
Iraqis, even those who welcomed the ouster of Iraqi
president Saddam Hussein.

Officer James Brat also acknowledged that U.S.
military checkpoints "routinely" confiscated large
amounts of money.

"We can call it misunderstanding," Brat said. "One
cannot be surprised to see an Iraqi carrying cases of
money inside their cars along with a Kalashnikov,
which gives U.S. soldiers a cause for suspicions."

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