04-18-03, 08:51 AM
Just now on FOX news
They've found 400 million dollars in ....US Dollar bills along with art and statues ....
...they were looking for a chain saw in an outbuilding to cut down some trees "Because they tearing up the antennae on our vehicles."
Ya needed firewood, Major. Ya ain't ****tin' me.
04-18-03, 01:26 PM
Apr 18, 2:07 PM EDT
Marines Guard $1B in Iraqi Gold
By ELLEN KNICKMEYER
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. Marines with machine guns and tanks stood watch Friday over what they estimated was $1 billion in gold - safeguarding bank vaults that withstood direct rocket-propelled grenade hits by robbers determined to fight their way in.
"Fort Knox doesn't have security like this," Staff Sgt. Jack Coughlin of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines said in a bank lobby, as shots rang out outside - U.S. snipers dealing with robbers armed with AK-47s still roaming Baghdad's pillaged banking district.
Days of audacious daylight robberies, thwarted by Marines, have left two blocks of the district a gutted ruin. Scorch marks crowned the windows of several banks, shattered glass crunched thickly underfoot, and scattered documents lay heaped up and down the sidewalks.
Broken glass was inches deep in the Central Bank - a burned-out shell of a building, its interior buried in twisted metal beams from the collapse of the roof and all nine floors under it.
The bank, by some accounts, holds some of the most precious items in Iraq: ancient gold artifacts that were taken from the National Museum for safekeeping before the U.S.-led war started, and stashed in the bank's vaults.
Some Marines suffered from smoke inhalation when entering the burned building. U.S. forces have deemed it too unsound structurally to investigate at length, said Marine Capt. Tim Walker, a 3rd Battalion company commander standing in Friday as Iraqi bank overseer.
So it remained a mystery whether museum artifacts were stashed there and survived.
At least nine huge vaults in the banking district were not destroyed, Walker said.
Intelligence reports given to the Marines indicated Baghdad's wealthy residents deposited their jewelry and other gold valuables in vaults before the war, Walker said. The estimated value was enormous - $1 billion - Marines estimate.
One of the nine room-size steel vaults showed the marks of a head-on RPG hit, Walker said.
He stood beside a small safe that hadn't fared so well. Its layers of metal were peeled back, its contents gone.
Robbers running through the district with acetylene torches and axes made easy work of such safes for days.
Medium-size vaults had fallen too, Walker said - but to robbers who apparently had inside knowledge. "We found a lot with the keys in them, open and looted," he said.
To keep the surviving vaults safe, Marines on Friday stood guard at every street and every sewer cover, and snipers were deployed on roofs.
"Get out of here. Don't talk to me. Get out of here," a Marine told one Iraqi man, enforcing an absolute two-block wide no-go zone around the banks.
Marines fought some of the most intense battles of the war around the banks.
Finally, by Friday, they had beaten back robbers who had come on relentlessly with welding torches, explosives and automatic weapons.
"High-speed robberies," Coughlin said. "Anytime you use an RPG, I call that high-speed."
Robbers used all sorts of vehicles - even an ice-cream truck - to make their getaways.
The Marines stopped them, loading bales of stolen U.S. currency and Iraqi dinars into armored patrol vehicles for safekeeping at U.S. military bases in the Iraqi capital.
For the looters who came later, Marines used humiliation, and more than a little fear.
"We kind of zip-locked their hands behind them, and burned their clothes and shoes," Walker said - which explained why journalists saw fleeing men in underwear in the district.
"We told them it's better for them they don't come back," he added.
Marines will head to southern Iraq in coming days, and turn the job of guarding Baghdad over to the U.S. Army.
That leaves Army soldiers with what Walker called the "headache" after the fight - divvying up millions in gold among the clamoring owners, with scarcely a bank document left to outline ownership.