Did the Interim Iraqi Defense Minister have these two Americans murdered for $300 million?
January 22, 2005 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Did the Interim Iraqi Defense Minister have these two Americans murdered for $300 million? In the middle of a election that will decide who controls Iraq, Interim Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan has announced that Ahmad Chalabi -- a rival candidate -- will be arrested on 13-year-old charges. But why now? Shaalan says Chalabi "wanted to malign the reputation of the defense ministry". How?
1> Shaalan claims Chalabi released documents accusing Shaalan of being a former member of the Mokhaberat, Saddam's intelligence service. (Shaalan claims political fraud, with the intent of silencing his claims against the Iranians.)
2> Chalabi claims that Shaalan flew $300 million in U.S. currency to a shady businessman in Lebanon, bypassing financial controls, the public bidding process, and Iraqi government oversight.
So, how does this tie in with Stoffel and Wemple? Stoffel recently alerted senior U.S. officials that the Iraqi Defense Ministry was involved in a kickback scheme involving a shady businessman in Lebanon and a multimillion-dollar arms deal. Late last year, Stoffel, a prominent Republican donor and arms dealer, met with aides to Sen. Santorum, R-Pa. Santorum wrote Donald Rumsfeld on Stoffel's behalf, asking him to raise the issue with Shaalan. Stoffel was later invited by the Coalition to arbitrate a solution with the Lebanese businessman. After several days, the arbitrator told the businessman to pay Stoffel -- a debt which is still unpaid. Upon leaving the base, Stoffel and Wemple were attacked and killed nearby. A video from a previously unknown terrorist group claimed responsibility, but one expert suggests that the video may be "manufactured". A reporter recently granted an interview with an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman was forbidden to ask "dangerous" questions about the contract. Stoffel and Wemple are survived by their wives and five children.
posted by insomnia_lj (26 comments total)

 
Can you draw me a diagram? It sounds like a question from the GRE analytical section.
posted by raysmj at 1:31 PM on January 22, 2005


I can't see how it would cost $300M to have two Americans killed in Iraq. You could probably have it done for $300 or, more'n likely, for free, if you found the right people.
posted by waldo at 1:33 PM on January 22, 2005


Whatever the case, Chalabi, a criminal convicted of embezzlement in absentia in Jordan, probably never deserved the right to be on the ballot, nor the support of Americans, for that matter.

Of course, if there aren't some really nasty deals going on in Iraq by people nominally considered the good guys, I'd be pretty surprised, too. Anarchy and chaos will breed some serious corruption in those in power, I suspect.
posted by teece at 1:41 PM on January 22, 2005


Diagram:

1> The Iraqi Defense minister sent $300 million to a Lebanese businessman, intentionally bypassing normal channels, for a military purchase.
2> Stoffel reported that the Iraqi defense department was engaging in a multimillion dollar kickback scheme with a Lebanese businessman who tried to force Stoffel to hire his people -- a racket very commonly done by the Mafia in this country. Inflated costs, with lots of the money winding up in the pockets of those responsible.
3> Stoffel refuses the kickbacks, and pulls strings to get the coalition to mediate the business deal.
4> Stoffel is conveniently killed nearby, soon after leaving the base. (Believe it or not, it's relatively rare for American businessmen to get killed in Iraq.) Was he set up?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:42 PM on January 22, 2005


Iraq is sooo yesterday. We're on the seven Outposts of Tyranny now. Get with it.
posted by fleener at 1:49 PM on January 22, 2005


"Whatever the case, Chalabi, a criminal convicted of embezzlement in absentia in Jordan, probably never deserved the right to be on the ballot, nor the support of Americans, for that matter."

I absolutely agree with you. I think he's a crook. That said, it's very telling that he's being threatened right now by the Iraqi Defense minister. Imagine Rumsfeld trying to arrest Nader, as a comparison. You'd think someone would tell the Defense minister that he doesn't control the police, or decide *ALL* government policy.

Also, it's interesting that it is Chalabi coming forth with the evidence, especially the documents about Shaalan being a former agent for Saddam. You see, Chalabi, when he went into Iraq, had his people seize all sorts of government documents. He's got the goods on lots of people, which is part of the reason why he's still surviving politically. He also has land deeds indicating who owned what before Saddam's government took it away from them. Very important stuff.

I heard from one person I know in Iraq who has a friend who knows Chalabi. When the U.S. raided Chalabi several months back, they were looking for a massive amount of old government documents that Chalabi had, but all of them had been moved ahead of time.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:50 PM on January 22, 2005


Iraq is sooo yesterday.

I agree, Iraq's tired. Iran's the new new thing
posted by matteo at 1:52 PM on January 22, 2005


I agree, Iraq's tired. Iran's the new new thing

pfft... im holding out for syria
posted by Dreamghost at 2:00 PM on January 22, 2005


Arms dealer/mercenary gets killed. Good riddance.

If the shady lebanese guy didn't want to pay him (sounds like motive enough to me), why did the iraqies have to pay him $300m? Something doesn't quite gel here.
posted by jmgorman at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2005


I can't even begin to read the text or links. Seriously, the formatting of this post looks like an abortion plastered all over the front page.
posted by Jairus at 6:01 PM on January 22, 2005


Metafilter: Like an abortion plastered all over the internet
posted by fatbobsmith at 6:18 PM on January 22, 2005


A homeless women I see walking often died across the street from me today.

Nothing has changed.
posted by orange clock at 6:23 PM on January 22, 2005


>>>Iraq is sooo yesterday.

>>I agree, Iraq's tired. Iran's the new new thing

>pfft... im holding out for syria


See how cynical we are?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:39 PM on January 22, 2005


orange_clock, how many times did you see the woman die? She must be immortal.
posted by fleener at 6:58 PM on January 22, 2005


"If the shady lebanese guy didn't want to pay him . . . why did the iraqies have to pay him $300m?"

If you read about the letter of complaint by Mr. Stoffel:

"As part of the contract, senior Defense Ministry officials required Stoffel's payments to be processed through a Lebanese middleman appointed by the ministry, according to the Dec. 3 letter.

By November, Stoffel was seeking a payment of $24.7 million, submitting invoices directly to the Defense Ministry. The ministry, in turn, cut three separate checks, sending each of them to the Lebanese businessman for "processing," people familiar with the contract said...

But after the businessman failed to send him the money, Stoffel complained to U.S. officials in Washington that he suspected that the middleman's true role was to route payments back to Iraqi officials in the form of kickbacks, people familiar with the contract said.

He also told the Pentagon in his letter that the middleman was withholding payments in an attempt to force him to use subcontractors linked to the middleman and to Defense Ministry officials."


In other words, the payments were being withheld to guarantee kickbacks to members of the Iraqi Defense ministry. And when the Coalition got involved to arbitrate the matter -- which would've prevented kickbacks and probably forced either a return of or an accounting for stolen funds -- Stoffel was killed.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:29 PM on January 22, 2005


Thanks for that info. on Chalabi, insomnia_lj, I had no idea just how crafty a bastard he really was.
posted by teece at 7:51 PM on January 22, 2005


"I had no idea just how crafty a bastard he really was." - Oh yes, and our government used to love him dearly for it.
posted by threehundredandsixty at 8:38 PM on January 22, 2005


Mudslinging, accusations of decade old crimes, videos of questionable legitimacy? Sounds like Florida. Throw an ex-special ops arms dealer with administration ties, a mysterious Lebanese businessman and some sharks with frikkin' laser beams shooting out of their eyes into the mix and it's like Tim Burton does Bond.

The only thing I'm not really clear on -- well, that's not true, I'm not clear on any of this -- but I do wonder why a Senator and the Defense Dept. are facilitating deals between arms merchants, the Iraqi Defense Ministry and mysterious Lebanese middlemen.
Wye Oak Technology delivered some refurbished tanks in November to Iraq's 1st Mechanized Brigade.
So, we now allow individuals to sell tanks to countries we invade? Can't that tough Iraqi army we spent billions of dollars defeating refurbish their own tanks? Didn't we just destroy their tanks? Clearly we're going to be there for some time defending our new colony so I don't understand why they need tanks in the first place and who the hell is going to be driving those tanks and are they going to be pointed at us in five years when they don't want to be a colony anymore?

Good thing one of those fine upstanding Iraqi candidates will soon be able to straighten out that nasty old DefenseMinistry. Oh yeah, these elections are going to go well. Freedom's on the march, baby.

My heart goes out to their children but I'm having a difficult time mustering compassion for a couple of guys who chose to go to Iraq and sell weapons in a war zone. It's not like they were building schools or digging wells... live by the sword, and all that.
posted by cedar at 8:38 PM on January 22, 2005


Great post, insomnia. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 8:47 PM on January 22, 2005


Great post, insomnia. Thanks.

Seconded.

Is this the Ahmed Chalabi, sitting behind Laura Bush during the SOTU address (considered a place of special honor and recognition), that's such a criminal? :-)
posted by nofundy at 4:10 AM on January 23, 2005


I agree, Iraq's tired. Iran's the new new thing

You forgot Cuba!
posted by zaelic at 4:46 AM on January 23, 2005


June 1, 2004

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Chalabi is an Iraqi leader that's fallen out of favor within your administration. I'm wondering if you feel that he provided any false information, or are you particularly --

THE PRESIDENT: Chalabi?

Q Yes, with Chalabi.

THE PRESIDENT: My meetings with him were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders. But I haven't had any extensive conversations with him.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:55 AM on January 23, 2005


Arch Stanton, that's to be expected, isn't it?
I mean, when you get away with a whopper like 'Ken who?' when asked about Kenneth Lay, and he's never really followed up on about it.

What incentive would he have in coming clean?

More on topic, I'm still trying to digest all the info in this post, and appreciate its compilation. Thanks.
posted by Busithoth at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2005


Iraq: Its all about the benjamins.
posted by nofundy at 9:51 AM on January 23, 2005


Updates to this story:

- Iraq's Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib says there is no arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi.

- An anonymous official at Iraq’s Defense Ministry confirmed that the ministry had transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from the Iraqi Central Bank to a financial institution in Beirut, Lebanon, to buy weapons.

The official said the money transfer was made with the knowledge of the Iraqi Central Bank, the Finance Ministry and the U.S.-led multinational forces. There was no comment from coalition authorities.
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:57 AM on January 23, 2005


This page (Arabic) has copies of the documents that Chalabi released on Shaalan being a former member of Iraqi intelligence.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:58 AM on January 24, 2005


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