"It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall," said Mohammed al-Sharaa, who heads the science ministry's site monitoring department and previously worked with UN weapons inspectors under Saddam. "The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall and I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of."
Jim Miklaszewski came on to explain that indeed there had been no search and that what the NBC News crew saw didn't tell us much of anything about whether explosives were still there at the time the news crew arrived with the 101st Airborne on April 10th. (1)
the NBC crew embedded with the 101st Airborne wasn't with the first US troops to get there. That actually happened a week earlier, on April 4th 2003 (2)
First, military and non-proliferation analysts say that a detachment of soldiers not specifically trained in weapons inspections work and certainly an NBC news crew simply wouldn't be in a position to make such a determination. We're not talking about a storage unit with a few boxes in it, but a massive weapons complex made up of almost a hundred buildings and bunkers. (3)
Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad, gutting office buildings, carrying off munitions and even dismantling heavy machinery, three Iraqi witnesses and a regional security chief said Wednesday.
The mechanic, Ahmed Saleh Mezher, said employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility.
The accounts do not directly address the question of when 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives vanished from the site sometime after early March, the last time international inspectors checked the seals on the bunkers where the material was stored. It is possible that Iraqi forces removed some explosives before the invasion.
But the accounts make clear that what set off much if not all of the looting was the arrival and swift departure of American troops, who did not secure the site after inducing the Iraqi forces to abandon it.
"The looting started after the collapse of the regime," said Wathiq al-Dulaimi, a regional security chief, who was based nearby in Latifiya. But once it had begun, he said, the booty streamed toward Baghdad.
Col. David Perkins, who commanded the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, called it "very highly improbable" that 380 tons of explosives could have been trucked out of Al Qaqaa in the weeks after American troops arrived.
Moving that much material, said Colonel Perkins, who spoke Wednesday to news agencies and cable television, "would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks."
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