Saturday, July 16, 2005

Fraud Allegations on Weapon Purchases in Iraq

There are a lot of stories about fraud coming out of Iraq these days. The latest is that the Iraqi military has been sold about 300 million dollars worth of substandard military equipment at inflated prices. It is being alleged that buyers for the Iraqi Defense Ministry were receiving kickbacks from vendors and have since been fired. There are also sources that say that the 300 million dollar amount is only what has been uncovered so far.

Allegations are that this flourished under American supervision prior to the elections in Iraq. Several former members of the Defense Ministry are under investigation. Iraqi Defense Minister, Saadoun al Duleimi, who isn't implicated in this scandal and is part of the new government stated that he sees this as an "incubator for terrorist activity." He also said that this defective equipment has jeopardized the lives of the Iraqi military, who face combat on a daily basis.

A lot of these deals were brokered by Ziad Tareq Cattan, a former Iraq exile, who after being hired as a district councilman was promoted rapidly to chief weapons buyer. In one allegation, he brokered a helicopter deal where 100 million was paid up front and when the helicopters were inspected, they were found to be old and deemed unusable. The 100 million was never returned. In another deal cited, Cattan bought a shipment of Heckler and Koch MP5 submachineguns for $3500.00 apeice that turned out to be Egyptian copies worth about $200.00 apeice. There are allegations that Cattan was routinely charging a 10 percent finder's fee for any deal he brokered. Whether these charges are true, or not remains to be proven.

Our young men and women in Iraq are being put in constant danger by a enemy that is often hard to identify. This war of terror is also claiming many innocent victims. Allegations, such as these, do nothing but inspire the terrorists, who are coming from all over to wage war against us. In the end, if we tolerate this behavior, we are only helping fuel the flames of terrorisim.

If you are interested in other stories regarding fraud in Iraq, go to the search box at the top and put in keyword: Iraq.

For the full story in the Miami Herald click on the title.

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