Preparing For The Bloodbath
PERUGIA, Italy (AP) - In a hidden corner of 's busy Fiumicino Airport, police dug quietly through a traveler's checked baggage, looking for smuggled drugs. What they found instead was a catalog of weapons, a clue to something bigger.
Their discovery led anti-Mafia investigators down a monthslong trail of telephone and e-mail intercepts, into the midst of a huge black-market transaction, as Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into the bloodbath of Iraq.
As the secretive, $40 million deal neared completion, Italian authorities moved in, making arrests and breaking it up. But key questions remain unanswered.
For one thing, The Associated Press has learned that Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command — a departure from the usual pattern of U.S.-overseen arms purchases.
The deal, brokered through Dubai -- yes, the Dubai of the Dubai Ports deal -- probably has little to do with arming the current Iraqi police forces. After all, why are 100,000 more automatic rifles needed for a police force the Pentagon numbers at 161,000 -- and that already has been issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398 machine guns?
That's over 350,000 weapons for the police alone -- and according to this story, they supposedly feel the need for more! That may be true, given what potentially lies ahead for Iraq. Or the weapons would have gone to Shi'ia militia, a troubling thought indeed.
Labels: War in Iraq