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The man with the golden gun
Shyam Bhatia in Baghdad exclusively for rediff.com |
April 13, 2003 04:12 IST
Crates of 24-carat gold pistols and gold-plated semiautomatic Kalashnikovs have been discovered in a Baghdad warehouse, US security forces told rediff.com on Saturday.
The weaponry, worth millions of dollars, is believed to have belonged to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Some of the weapons have been taken out of their boxes to be displayed at the presidential palace on the west bank of the Tigris, currently occupied by elements of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
The palace, which is distinguished by three 50 foot-high busts of Saddam, is at the heart of Baghdad.
Saddam is now history, but the marbled palaces are expected to survive as the seat of the interim governing authority to be established under retired US general Jay Garner.
Gen Garner will be asked to decide what to do with the gold weapons. There are enough of these James Bond-style Walther P38 Colt pistols and Tabuk-made Kalashnikovs to fill a museum.
One suggestion from local Iraqis is that the gold should be melted and sold for the benefit of those who were tortured by the regime.
"Whatever decision is made, these items are worth a lot just as collectors' items," said a bemused Lieutenant Joseph Peppers.
"Maybe they were superstitious and believed that by fighting with gold weapons they would win against the enemy."
A graduate of West Point, Lieutenant Peppers from Chicago, Illinois, added, "I cannot put a value on what I am showing you, but I can assure you these are fully useable weapons."
rediff.com Senior Editor Shyam Bhatia is the co-author of Saddam's Bomb, on Iraq's search for nuclear weapons.