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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why Are Iraqi Explosives Missing?

The news has recently broken out that 380 tons of explosives that belonged to the Saddam Hussein's military has disappeared after the 2003 invasion by the US and Coalition forces.

(CNN) -- Some 380 tons of explosives powerful enough to detonate nuclear warheads are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that was supposed to be under American control, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency says.

Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the interim Iraqi government reported to the agency several days ago in a letter that the explosives were missing from the Al Qaqaa complex south of Baghdad.

The explosives -- considered powerful enough to demolish buildings or detonate nuclear warheads -- were under IAEA control until the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. IAEA workers left the country before the fighting began.

"Our immediate concern is that if the explosives did fall into the wrong hands, they could be used to commit terrorist acts and some of the bombings that we've seen," Fleming said.

Fleming's concerns certainly do not seem overblown. Personally, if someone were to put together a truck bomb consisting of a mere ton of plastique, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near the point of detonation.

This sort of news is naturally followed by an attempt to make sense of such an enormous event. Clearly, many were quick to blame the US military for failing to secure the facility.

According to this WorldNetDaily report, the military counters such accusations by stating that the explosives were removed prior to their arrival at the storage depots were the materiel had been previously stored. The photos presented to back up this argument display pickup trucks alleged to transport the explosives out of the storage facilities.

The photos show fedayeen, Saddam's most loyal paramilitary troops, in white pickup trucks transporting weapons, likely including missiles, from a storage facility a few kilometers north of Bayji and 100 kilometers north of Tikrit, as part of what the officer says was a coordinated effort to empty country-wide storage facilities before U.S. troops arrived in various areas. He said facilities in the south were likely emptied by fedayeen earlier in a similar fashion.

In one picture, two men in the back of a white pickup truck are seen sitting on three green ammunition crates. The truck's body, particularly toward the rear, is dragging low, an indication it was carrying a heavy load. The officer says the fedayeen regularly used such pickup trucks, which are less conspicuous than military trailers.

In one photo the officer says was taken seconds later, a separate truck can be seen driving from an area of the same facility which looks identical to al-Qaqaa, transporting a green box of what appears to be missiles. The truck passes a former Iraqi checkpoint at the facility entrance.
The US military stands accused of using excessive force in many incidents during the war in Iraq. And in light of that, it seems especially baffling that, according to what we know today, the force was not used to prevent the enemy from spreading around a humongous arsenal of explosives which can now be put to deadly use just about any place in the world.

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