The world's biggest thief?
September 20, 2005 1:53 AM Subscribe
The world's biggest thief? A warrant has been issued against former Iraqi Interim Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan for defrauding Iraq of over $1 billion. In January, I posted to MeFi about Shaalan's possible involvement in a $300 million fraud scheme and the murder of two American arms merchants. What is more troubling, however, is that the U.S. government may have turned a blind eye to this massive defrauding of the Iraqi people. Prior to his role as Defense Minister, Shaalan ran a real estate agency in Britain and had no prior military qualifications. For this reason, Juan Cole believes it likely that Shaalan was a CIA agent, while Ahmed Chalabi accused Sha'alan of spying for Saddam. Meanwhile, the insurgents accused Shaalan of conspiring with the Bush administration to scrap Iraq's heavy weaponry. What does seem clear is that he apparently tried to buy broken Soviet-era armored vehicles and 28-year-old, second-hand Polish helicopters too old to fly at a premium, while pocketing lucrative kickbacks. Which begs the question -- if the U.S. government really wanted a strong, independent Iraqi military, then why doesn't it give Iraq the heavy arms they'll need to defend themselves?
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