Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Was Attack Upon Iraq Central Bank To Cover Up Corruption Case?

Iraqi investigators are looking into the fire that was set during the June 2010 raid on the Central Bank building in Baghdad. During the attack, which Al Qaeda in Iraq took responsibility for, fires were set in an attempt to destroy files and records. Officials now say that the blaze was started in the office of the bank’s inspector general. Some of the documents destroyed included an on-going investigation into fake checks from different companies that cost at least $711 million. Two bank managers had been arrested and held for questioning as part of the operation. A member of the parliament’s Integrity Committee questioned why Al Qaeda would use suicide bombers to destroy files of a corruption case. The lawmaker speculated that bank employees might have actually set the fire to cover up their involvement in the case. Another possibility is that Al Qaeda was involved in the check deal and wanted to cover up its own operation. Another theory is that the attackers were working for politicians who wanted to destroy their links to the case.

This would not be the first time fire was used to destroy important documents at the Central Bank. In January 2008 an unexplained blaze broke out at the bank’s building in Baghdad. Members of parliament accused bank officials of deliberately burning documents to hide their complicity in corruption cases. 

With so little information to go on speculation is running rampant about the bank attack. The assailants didn’t try to enter the banks’ vaults so its goal was definitely the destruction of files. Whether they were going after this specific check case is impossible to tell right now as there might have been hundreds of other documents in the bank’s inspector general’s office as well. What the rumors do is fuel the widespread belief that Iraq’s institutions and politicians are thoroughly corrupt, and that some officials are connected to militants to further their own personal goals.

SOURCES

Sly, Liz, “IRAQ: Terror or corruption? Central Bank attack is probed,” Babylon & Beyond, Los Angeles Times, 7/2/10

Al-Zaman, “Iraq: Fire at Central Bank Devours Documents Implicating Officials,” MEMRI Blog, 1/29/08

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