Skip to comments.Sources: Saddam stored weapons under mosques
Posted on 04/08/2003 5:23:00 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
WASHINGTON Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has stored munitions, including biological and chemical weapons, in bunkers underneath several mosques in Iraq, U.S. officials told WorldNetDaily.
While officials say the mosques have not been targeted for destruction, they say that special-operations forces plan to inspect the underground bunkers along with Saddam's palace bunkers.
"We know for a fact that he's got bombs, grenades and NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) stuff under quite a few of his mosques," said a U.S. intelligence official.
Added a senior Pentagon official: "We know of at least one in Baghdad," where U.S. troops are now battling for final control of the country.
He says it's on the list of bunkers that the U.S. Army's explosive ordnance disposal unit, or EOD, plans to clear for booby traps.
"Our guys in uniform that I've talked to have not been in there yet, but they're planning for it," he said.
"This is an easy place for them (Iraqis) to hide stuff," the Pentagon official added. "We've certainly seen it in some of the presidential palaces. Mosques are going to be a little bit tougher to check out."
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which is prosecuting the Iraqi war, says mosques are not legitimate targets for air strikes, even though U.S. forces during the Afghanistan operation discovered that mosques there were used by the ruling Taliban militia as command-and-control centers and arms depots.
"In general, religious sites like that are not targets," said CentCom spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nick Balice in Tampa, Fla.
To clear the portals leading to bunker tunnels, EOD technicians will first have to send in robots equipped with special sensors designed to detect bomb "triggers." Special forces personnel would follow after the booby traps are deactivated to capture or kill, if necessary, Iraqi leaders hiding inside the bunkers. They would then videotape any munitions they find in the underground storehouses.
Bomb-sniffing dogs cannot be used because of the high concentration of explosives-related chemicals in the air in Baghdad, a Pentagon official says.
"There's too much 'background' for sniffers like dogs," he said. "You'd make a bomb dog go crazy over there right now."
He says the Pentagon has obtained blueprints of some of Saddam's palace bunkers, which were designed by German and French firms and are remarkably sophisticated, and virtually impenetrable. U.S. intelligence also has detected the location of bunkers from satellite and heat imaging.
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