Really excellent piece on the Al-Qa’Qaa munitions complex, its looting during the US invasion of Iraq, and the role of the estimated 40,000 tonnes of assorted explosives that went missing in the Iraqi insurgency and the civil war. Also, strategic geography – that area was on the demographic frontier between Sunni and Shia, on the suburban fringe of Baghdad, and near the end of the road from the western borders. Combine that with the explosives, and you can see why it was the crucible of the war and also part of the reason why things quietened down so quickly after mid-2007 – get a grip there and the Americans and the Iraqi government had gone quite a long way already.
Also, October, 2004:
Sanger, still waiting for the editors of the Times to publish his exclusive, discovered that the story was leaking on Sunday. The article went out the next morning: “Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished from Site in Iraq.” Shortly after the newspaper hit the streets, Bush’s chief political strategist Karl Rove swept into the media area of Air Force One and started shouting at Sanger. “Rove came and screamed at me in front of all the other reporters,” he says. “Declared that this had been invented by the Kerry campaign.” Apparently, the report had hit a nerve.