Iraq: Hunting For Mister Big

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September 1, 2009: Iraq is going after the nations and foreign officials who worked with Saddam Hussein to loot the "Oil for Food" program (a UN administered arrangement that allowed Iraq to export oil in exchange for food and humanitarian supplies) in the 1990s.  Saddam diverted much of the money to himself and foreign political and trade officials who cooperated in the scam. Russian, French and UN officials were the major players, and most have escaped prosecution so far. This is part of an effort to recover some of the money (over $100 billion) that Saddam and his cronies stole from the nation over three decades, but particularly in the 1990s, and often moved out of the country.

A lot of the terrorist violence in Iraq over the last five years, was paid for with that stolen money. A lot of the loot was spirited away to Syria in 2003, and some was sent back to Iraq to subsidize the terrorism. Some of this cash, and the people carrying it, were captured over the years. There is now a pile of compelling evidence about nature and extent of the Baath Party support for the terrorist campaign, and the Iraqi government wants the key players brought to justice in Iraq.

Two years ago, the U.S. broke the back of this terror campaign, by convincing most of the Sunni Arab groups (especially tribal leaders) that their struggle was hopeless, and that the U.S. would just keep getting more effective at killing Sunni Arab terrorists, and that the Shia dominated government and security forces were capable to running all Sunni Arabs out of the country. Since then, terrorist violence has declined over 90 percent. Despite the recent attacks, it is still down. What angers the government about the recent attacks, is that the killers were specifically targeting the government, and known Saddam supporters were responsible. The Saddam supporters in exile can still order large scale terror attacks in Iraq, they just have to pay a lot more money. That's because the Iraqis security forces are very effective at investigating and finding those responsible for attacks. Thus there's a lot more risk for the terrorists, and rates have gone way up.

Some of the terrorists killed during the August 19th attacks had been released from a U.S. run prison recently. The U.S. has, since 2003, run its own prison system in Iraq, mainly for terror related offenses. The U.S. is shutting down these prisons and trying to transfer all of the prisoners to Iraqi custody. But the Iraqis refuse to accept most of them, because they do not consider the evidence  strong enough. So some 80 percent of these prisoners are set free, and some of them have returned to their terrorist ways. So far this year, some 5,300 such prisoners have been released from U.S. prisons, with the Iraqis taking another 1,200 of them and putting them in prison. There are still about 8,000 terror suspects in U.S. prisons in Iraq, and these include some of the most dangerous suspects. Iraq is reconsidering its criteria for transferring these terror suspects to Iraqi prisons.

August 26, 2009: Kuwait has offered the use of its hospitals to treat some of the nearly 1,000 Iraqis injured during suicide bombing attacks in Baghdad last week.

August 24, 2009: The government has demanded that Syria turn over two Iraqi Sunni Arab exiles, who were senior Baath Party officials when Saddam was in charge. The government believes these two are responsible for financing and ordering the recent spate of terror bomb attacks in Iraq. Syria refused (as it usually does, partly because these exiles bribe the Syrians to obtain sanctuary, and these guys could reveal the extent of Syrian support for Sunni Arab terrorists in Iraq.)

During a police raid, a $10 million Picasso, looted by Iraqis from Kuwait during the 1990s invasion, was found. A Shia man arrested in the raid later admitted that we was negotiating to sell the painting for about half a million dollars. Most of the loot taken from Kuwait in 1990, has not been recovered.

 

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