Italian Cops Bust Secret Iraqi Arms Deal

US kept in the dark as ministry ordered guns that might have outfitted militias
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2007 11:51 PM CDT
Italian Cops Bust Secret Iraqi Arms Deal
Men exchange money for weapons over tea in a Baghdad home, June 20, 2007. Italian authorities have broken up an alleged illegal plot to ship more than 100,000 assault rifles and machine guns into Iraq, a spectacular example of how the country has become a magnet for arms traffickers. It is believed...   (Associated Press)

A secret transaction providing the Iraqi government with over $40 million worth of weapons was uncovered by Italian police investigating local Mafiosi, the Guardian reports. Without the knowledge of American military commanders, the Iraqi interior ministry had ordered 105,000 rifles from arms traffickers, ostensibly to supply police. Italian police halted the transaction and arrested four people.

The shady nature of the deal has raised suspicions that the guns were for use by Shia militias and police units close to the Shia-led government. The US high command came under fire last week after congressional investigators discovered the disappearance of 190,000 US-supplied weapons in Iraq. (Read more Italy stories.)

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