We Buy Rocket Launchers At Arms Bazaar
Nov 3 2003
MILITANTS are able to buy devastating weapons to attack coalition forces easily and cheaply in Baghdad, a Mirror undercover probe discovered.
We recruited a former Iraqi army officer, General Alameen, to order arms for us at a market in a graveyard on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Groups of men sit around on tombstones, light candles and pray. But they are not all mourners. Some are arms dealers who trade there secretly for two hours three times a day.
We ordered our weapons late in the afternoon from Brahim Khalil, a former sergeant and mine laying specialist in the disbanded Iraqi army.
Most of the sellers are just 15 to 20 years old and they take their orders back to their bosses.
General Alameen arrived back the next day and waited 15 minutes for Khalil. A young boy came and took him to the other side of the cemetery where Baath party officials were hiding.
There we were offered five RPG launchers and seven rockets. We bought two Russian-made launchers, fired from the shoulder, for ?140.
"If you need more, just let me know," said the seller. Each one and a half foot long RPG rocket costs ?12 to ?19 but can be bought for just ?6 to ?9 at Mahmoudiya, south of the capital. Bulk purchases of 50 or more items bring the price down further.
We were also shown delayed timer hand grenades. One of our rocket launchers had a white stamp showing Saddam's head - the mark of the hardline Saddam Fedayeen guerrillas. These weapons can penetrate tanks although they were ineffective against British and US ones during the Iraq war.
But they can knock out other vehicles easily and scatter deadly shrapnel.
Civilians can buy arms here in 10 days but it's easier for ex-army people.
General Alameen said: "I could buy 100 RPG launchers and their rockets, if I had the ready cash."
He bought himself a ?94 Kalashnikov rifle, a ?190 9mm pistol and bullets to defend himself from what he called"Ali Baba robbers". He had special compartments in his car to conceal the weapons.
But no one stopped us as we drove to coalition forces HQ to hand our arms over. We were thanked and given a receipt for them.
General Alameen later told us: "The resistance here has been buying, buying, buying, and prices are going up. Now those who want to kill Americans, British and anyone working with the new regime, seem to have assembled enough to wreak havoc."