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Ashcroft Blames Criminal Gangs for Theft of Iraqi Antiquities - TV Report - 2003-05-06


The U.S. State Department says Saddam Hussein and his family took one billion dollars from Iraq’s central bank shortly before the U.S.-led invasion in March. U.S. officials do not know where the money is. With other news on Iraq, here’s Brian Purchia

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says criminal gangs were likely behind the looting of historical treasures during the war in Iraq. Mr. Ashcroft told an Interpol conference in France Tuesday the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for when they pillaged Baghdad's National Museum.

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT
“United States. law enforcement and our colleagues at Interpol will not rest until the stolen Iraqi artifacts are returned to their rightful place: the public museums and libraries of Iraq."

Meanwhile, the first planeload of aid from the European Union is on its way to Iraq.

Also Tuesday, the European Union's top humanitarian aid official, Poul Nielson arrived in Iraq, with a message of support for its people and a proposal that the United Nations act as the "cornerstone" for coordinating aid across the country.

POUL NIELSON, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR DEVELOPMENT AND HUMANITARIAN AID
“I can announce here today that the European Commission is going to open a humanitarian aid office in Baghdad to work with our partners in bringing much needed relief and assistance to the people of Iraq."

Meanwhile, President Bush officially named a veteran U.S. diplomat, Paul Bremer, to be his special envoy to Iraq and oversee its transition to a new government. Mr. Bremer will manage all U.S. political and reconstruction efforts in the war-torn country. He will be senior to the current top U.S. official in Iraq, retired Army General Jay Garner, who will remain in the country and focus on reconstruction.

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