- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 25 (UPI) — An Iraqi youth armed with a knife tried to force his way into the headquarters of the U.N. weapons inspectors in a Baghdad hotel Saturday, but was stopped by Iraqi security guard, U.N sources and witnesses said.

In a separate incident, another young Iraqi was caught taking documents from inside a weapons inspector's car parked outside the U.N. headquarters.

The sources said Iraqi security forces arrested both men. Witnesses said they saw both young men surrender to the police. Officials have not made a statement about either incident, and it is not known whether they were linked.

Saturday's attempted break-ins were the first since international arms inspectors returned to Iraq last November to resume their search for weapons of mass destruction after a four-year interruption.

They came two days before U.N chief inspector Hans Blix and IAEA head Mohammad ElBaradei were due to present the report on the findings in the past two months to the U.N. Security Council — and against a background of a continuing U.S. military deployment in the region foreshadowing a possible attack on Iraq.

The witnesses said the arms experts were preparing to start a new day of searches when the two incidents happened in quick succession.

U.N sources said the experts were briefly delayed, but began their journey to four sites in and around Baghdad, in addition to an oil company in Mosul, 420 kilometers (about 250 miles) north of the capital.

A U.N spokesman in Baghdad, Hiro Ueki, said a man tried to storm the inspectors' headquarters at 7:50 a.m. local time. A short time later another man snatched papers from one of the cars, then forced the driver out and tried to flee. He said the car attacker was not armed.

The only similar incident was in 2001 when an armed man stormed the headquarters of the U.N Food and Agricultural Organization in Baghdad and opened fire.

Meanwhile, inspectors on Saturday questioned one of three scientists the Iraqi foreign ministry had agreed could be interviewed. But officials did not explain the absence of the two other scientists.

The director of Iraq's National Inspection Department, Hussam Mohammad Amin said Thursday his government could not force Iraqi scientists to meet or not to meet with the inspectors, adding that the government could only notify them of an upcoming interview.

The U.N inspectors and experts from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency have questioned a number of Iraqi scientists whose names appeared on a list of more than 500 scientists who worked on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs in the past.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide