- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

Iraq’s arms

A Pentagon report on weapons found in Iraq after the war revealed a staggering amount of armaments, almost all foreign-made.

The report, first disclosed in a new book by one of this column’s writers, Bill Gertz, reached this stark conclusion: “Foreign munitions were used against coalition forces during the war and continue to be a potential source of explosives for improvised explosive devices still being used to kill U.S. soldiers.”

According to the report cited in “Treachery: How America’s Friends and Foes are Secretly Arming Our Enemies,” 24 nations supplied armaments to Saddam Hussein. The total amount was between 650,000 tons and 1 million tons. By contrast, the entire U.S. military arsenal is between 1.6 million and 1.8 million tons.

The big three arms suppliers were Russia (and the Soviet Union), China and France: Russia supplied 122 different types of arms and a total of nearly 13 million items; China had provided 19 different types of arms and almost 380,000 items; France had supplied 12 different armaments and more than 115,000 items.

The report was produced by the office of deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, John Shaw.

It found that Russia had violated U.N. sanctions on Iraq by selling Saddam Hussein Kornet-E antitank guided weapons. The report said that in March 2003, Kornet missiles, first developed in 1994, were fired at two U.S. Army M-1A1 Abrams tanks near Najaf, disabling them.

The report also stated that Syria purchased 500 to 1,000 Kornets from Ukraine “on behalf of Iraq”; the transfers took place in early 2003, the report said. The Ukrainians had bought the missiles from Russian manufacturers. The report concluded, “Possession of the Kornet-E violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 687,” which barred arms sales to Iraq.

Holdout

Count Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld among the dwindling few officials who believe weapons of mass destruction stockpiles still may be found in Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell tightened the circle of true believers a few notches when he said this week he doesn’t believe such stockpiles will ever be found.

“There was every reason to believe there were stockpiles,” Mr. Powell told a Senate panel. “There was a question about the size of stockpiles, but we all believed there were stockpiles. … It turned out that we have not found any stockpiles. … I think it is unlikely that we will find any stockpiles.”

But Mr. Rumsfeld told us this month it is too soon to say, as the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group continues to investigate.

“Would you acknowledge now, in the months before the war, or maybe a year or two years before the war, that Iraq no longer had stockpiles of chemical weapons?” we asked the secretary during an interview.

He answered, “I just don’t know. We certainly believed they did. We didn’t have our soldiers putting on chemical protective suits in hot weather in Iraq as they marched from Kuwait up towards Baghdad every day [unless Gen.] Tommy Franks was convinced that they did. As a result, all those folks were in protective gear. The world was convinced of it. … We know the possibilities. One possibility is that they didn’t and Saddam Hussein was being lied to by his people.

“Another possibility is they did and they gave them to some other country or hid them in some other country. Another possibility is that they did and they destroyed them. … Another possibility is that they did and they buried them. … That pit Saddam Hussein was in was big enough for enough biological weapons to kill tens of thousands of people. So it doesn’t take a genius to hide things. We just don’t know. Our folks are still looking and trying to find out.”

Al-Sadr’s thugs

The Washington Times reported Sept. 1 that a U.S. military intelligence report the newspaper obtained told of Muqtada al-Sadr’s thugs using a rump Muslim court to convict, torture and murder the radical cleric’s opponents.

A senior military officer told us this week that U.S. intelligence and Iraqi authorities have concluded that is just what happened before a peace treaty was reached Aug. 27 in Najaf.

Now, what to do about it. The interim Iraqi government has invited Sheik al-Sadr to join the political process. National elections are tentatively scheduled for January. But how do you let into politics a Shi’ite leader whose army murders and mutilates innocents?

The military officer said the United States is letting the Iraqis decide whether to prosecute Sheik al-Sadr, who is also believed to be responsible for the murder of a rival cleric.

Defunding terrorism

A new report on terrorist financing says that some of the largest and most prominent public pension systems in the United States are heavily invested in “global publicly traded companies that have business activities in terrorist-sponsoring states.”

“Together, these funds invest over $1 trillion in stock on behalf of this country’s fire fighters, police officers, teachers, state and local officials and other public employees, making this collection of funds one of the most powerful investment blocks in the world,” the report by the Center for Security Policy said.

The report called on the pension investors to “help defeat terrorism” by divesting holdings in companies linked to state sponsors of terrorism.

The report found that the pension system in Rhode Island has close to $400 million invested in 41 companies that are “active in terrorist sponsoring states” and said the largest U.S. public pension system, the California Public Employees Retirement System, has more than $17 billion invested in 201 such companies. The report examined pension holdings in companies linked to terrorist-sponsoring states such as Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

The report revealed that the top 100 public funds were invested in 73 companies doing business in Iran; 24 companies doing business in Libya; 26 companies doing business in Sudan; 31 companies doing business in Syria; and nine companies doing business in North Korea. Pension systems also were invested in 17 companies that did business with Saddam’s Iraq prior to the war.

The report called on the pension funds to follow the lead of American companies in the 1980s, which divested from South African firms to protest that nation’s apartheid racial policies.

“It seems reasonable to expect that, just as such corporate actions compelled changes in the policies and ultimately the government of South Africa, application of this model to state-sponsors of terror could also produce salutary results,” the report said.

The full report is available online at https://divestterror.org/.

Hyde’s plan

Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, has been warning for months that Afghanistan is in danger of becoming a narco-state. Intelligence sources say al Qaeda is relying more and more on the burgeoning poppy crop in Afghanistan to fund its murderous activities.

So far, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is reluctant to give the military a significant role in counternarcotics. In Afghanistan, for example, the command plays a support role.

Mr. Hyde has drafted a “sense of Congress” resolution that would urge the Pentagon to get involved.

“It is the sense of Congress that the United States Armed Forces should play a major role in combating trafficking in and financing of illicit narcotics in Afghanistan and other countries in which the United States Armed Forces are deployed,” the draft legislation says.

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at [email protected] Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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