A report from two Arab newspapers states that Saddam Hussein has acknowledged siphoning billions of dollars to a network of personal bank accounts and is telling American interrogators the names of his collaborators:
Saddam Hussein has acknowledged depositing billions of dollars abroad before his ouster and has given interrogators the names of people who know where the money is, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council said in remarks published Monday. The U.S.-appointed council estimates that the Iraqi dictator seized $40 billion while in power and is now searching for that amount deposited in Switzerland, Japan, Germany and other countries, Iyad Allawi told the London-based Arab newspapers Al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat.
Other members of the IGC dispute the report:
In Baghdad, Ahmed al-Bayak, anouther member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said he was informed by council members that Saddam had started to talk about names of people inside Iraq who were carrying out attacks against U.S. forces. “But nothing about funds,” said al-Bayak.
While we hope that Saddam coughs up as much information as possible, if he hasn’t given any names yet on his financial collaborators, they’ve probably already covered their tracks as much as possible over the past two weeks since Saddam’s capture. However, it’s not easy to conceal the movement of billions of dollars, especially if people know to look for it, which means that the funds will be hard to convert into fuel for terrorists, at least for a while. It certainly seems that Saddam was much more connected to terrorists than previously thought, and the oil-for-food program needs a thorough investigation to see who else funnelled money out of it and where it is now.
UPDATE: Power Line has picked up this story and accents the focus on Saddam’s possible connections with terrorist groups, both pre-war and later.