BAGHDAD, Iraq – Militants targeted police recruits and shoppers rounding up last-minute sweets and delicacies Sunday for a feast to mark the end of the Ramadan holy month, the highlight of the Muslim year. At least 44 Iraqis were reported killed across the country.
The U.S. military announced the deaths of a Marine and four soldiers, raising to 83 the number of American servicemembers killed in October — the highest monthly toll this year. The pace of U.S. deaths could make October the deadliest month in two years.
The former minister Ali Allawi told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that $1.2 billion had been allocated from the Iraqi treasury to the defense ministry to buy new weapons. About $400 million was spent on outdated equipment, while the rest of the money was simply stolen, he said.
Allawi said the arms fraud is “one of the biggest thefts in history” and that corrupt former Iraqi officials are now “running around the world hiding and scurrying around.”
He did not name the officials who allegedly stole the money during the CBS report. But Iraqi investigators are probing several weapons and equipment deals engineered by former procurement officer Ziad Cattan and other officials including former Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan.
Most of the fraudulent arms purchases were allegedly made during the term of former interim Prime Minster Ayad Allawi who took office after occupation authorities turned over sovereignty to Iraqis on June 28, 2004. When new Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi took office in May 2005, an investigation was opened into several alleged cases of corruption.
Ayad Allawi and Ali Allawi are cousins.