4th Infantry Division Seizes Cash in Raids
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 18, 2003 The 4th Infantry Division confiscated $8.5 million U.S. dollars and between 300 and 400 million Iraqi dinar from two separate farmhouses during a raid today, said Army Maj. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, 4th Infantry Division commander.
The general announced this in a videoconference from Baghdad today with Pentagon reporters. The raid nabbed thousands of English pounds and Euro, still being counted. Inside the farmhouses were photos and paraphernalia of the ousted leader Saddam Hussein.
"In addition, we received a large cache of jewels and gems estimated at over $1 million; Russian-made night-vision goggles, sniper rifles, uniforms and equipment of Saddam's personal guards," Odierno said.
About 20 individuals associated with Saddam's security forces were detained in today's raid, including one of Saddam's personal bodyguards, he noted. He said one Iraqi was caught fleeing the scene with $800 thousand U.S. dollars in the trunk of his vehicle.
Odierno said he believes that these Iraqis "operate in cash and they go around and they try to recruit individuals and they say, 'If you kill Americans, we'll pay you so much money and so they pay them in cash.' And they have different kinds of cash to pay different kinds of people."
The commander also thinks there's a bounty on American soldiers, although he does not know for what amount.
But despite some monetary support, Odierno further commented that he believes the attackers' efforts are not coordinated, organized or led.
"The soldiers (Iraqi) that are conducting these operations do not even have the will power," he said. "We find the majority of the time they'll fire a shot and drop the weapon and give up right away. Most cases, I'm not sure they really believe in what they are doing."
Still, Odierno said the raids his units are conducting is putting pressure on the bounty hunters. "I think we are having a significant effect on their ability, which is causing them to come out and maybe increase their attacks, even though they have been ineffective," he noted.
"I think they're desperate, I think they're becoming less and less organized. The more money we seize, the more individuals we take into custody. We continue to really, I think, have an impact on the medium to senior level of individuals that remain."
Odierno said these attackers aren't motivated by the fact that Saddam has not been found. "The bottom line is that he's no longer in power," he said. "I think everybody realizes that he's never going to come back to power.
"We have to make sure the people understand that coalition forces are going to be here until we have a safe and secure environment and the bottom line is that Saddam Hussein or his sons will never take control of this country again ... the message we pass and continually stand behind. I think the secretary of defense has been very clear about that."
Although there is still resistance from former loyalists of the Saddam regime in the cities of Kirkut, Basra, Tikrit, Samarra, among others, where more than 27,000 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division now operate, the stabilization process has gone well, he said.
The two-star general said that in three provinces of northeastern and central Iraq, life is better for citizens. Workers are being paid; children are attending school - final exams will be held at the end of this month. In May in the city of Kirkut, the first democratic elections were held. He noted that people are going about their business.
It's the way the United States had hoped things would be, Odierno observed.
Since the Fort Hood, Texas, unit arrived in the region in late March, its job has been to help rebuild the country's infrastructure, concentrating efforts on the judicial, educational, healthcare and municipal systems. At the same time, the unit has been tracking down Saddam loyalists and former Baath Party members, Odierno said.
The unit has repaired and restored telecommunications systems, water, electricity and sewer systems. Division soldiers have screened and hired more than 4,000 police, who are now patrolling jointly with U.S. soldiers in cities. Fifteen court buildings have reopened with 4th division legal staff monitoring proceedings.
In addition to reopening banks, division soldiers have also begun paying salaries to police and government and hospital workers, and provided emergency interim payment to pensioners.
"We have and continue to distribute food," Odierno said, adding that there's no food shortage throughout the division's area of responsibility.
"The World Food Program warehouses are restocked," he noted, "and rationed distribution is ongoing." Odierno pointed out that his division engineers "have established miracles in restoring public utilities to all neglected, looted and damaged systems."
There is now more reliable and stable electricity than in a long time, he added. He also noted that 24 of 28 hospitals are fully operational, and 15 clinics are open and stocked with medicines. Three thousand Iraqis have received immunizations.
The general also credited his engineers for bridging two junctures across the Tigris River, both critical to civilian and commerce traffic.
"The bottom line is that all services are equal to or better than what was here prior to the regime being removed," he said.
But there are still tense times for the unit, Odierno pointed out. Three division soldiers have been killed and 23 wounded during what has become almost daily contact with noncompliant forces and former regime members," he said, categorizing the attacks as "random and ineffective."
With random attacks escalating, the unit has been conducting "search and attack" missions, along with patrols to hunt down and disarm hostile forces and capture former regime members that may be responsible for the attacks, he said.
"I believe there are three groups out there right now. Basically, there is a group of ex-Saddam Baath Party loyalists, some Islamic fundamentalists, and then there are just some plain Iraqis who are poor and are being paid to attack U.S. forces," he said.
"All of these attacks are uncoordinated, they are very ineffective," he added.
"On a daily basis you will see that 99 percent of the area is free, clear and the citizens go about every day doing their business without interruption."
In the most recently conducted Operation Peninsula Strike and the current Operation Desert Scorpion, Odierno reported more than 400 people detained, 60 of whom were confirmed as being former Iraqi Intelligence Service, paramilitary Fedayeen and Republican Guard leadership. A few were foreign fighters from Syria and Iran, he said. Odierno said he could not confirm whether any of the detainees captured had ties to al Qaeda.
The operations have also turned up large caches of weapons, including hundreds of rocket-propelled grenades.