US Forces Hunt Down Iraqi Rackets

Illegal schemes funnel key money to insurgents
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2007 8:32 PM CDT
Iraqi business rackets funnel more dollars to insurgents than do outside sources, making them a key target for US commanders, according to Major General Benjamin Mixon.   (Getty Images (by Event))
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(Newser) – Iraq's mafia-style rackets are funneling big money to insurgents, making them key targets for US commanders. Corruption and kickbacks in real estate, soft drinks, cement—even the extortion of US contractors—are fueling what Maliki calls a “second war” in Iraq. "We have got to attack the insurgency from what source it comes from,” says a US general. “Part of that is the financing."

Getting battle-trained soldiers to break such rackets is another issue, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Imagine going into a Pepsi plant with a bunch of soldiers in 116-degree heat” seeking faked ledgers, said Army Lt. Col. Eric Welsh. "Now where do you begin when you don't speak the language?" Yet US forces have arrested two or three racketeers each month, nabs that Welsh calls "the tip of the iceberg."