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U.S. Troops Investigated for Iraq Theft

U.S. Troops Investigated for Iraq Theft

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. military detectives are investigating five American soldiers in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a cache of money in Iraq, a commanding officer said Wednesday.

U.S. forces have recovered more than $600 million from hiding places near Saddam Hussein's palace complexes in central Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp, commander of the 4th Battalion, 64th Infantry Regiment.

But along the way, a few U.S. troops apparently tried to stash hundreds of thousands of dollars, in $100 bills, for themselves, DeCamp said.

"We've recovered just about all the money we thought was taken. We're still looking into it," he said.

U.S. troops stumbled over several aluminum cases filled with $100 bills in an empty house Monday and officers initially estimated the total at more than $500 million. After checking the containers, it became clear someone had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars, and officers began looking for that money.

Although DeCamp said $600 million has been recovered in all, a soldier familiar with the inquiry put the total figure at about $900,000. The soldier spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, which is responsible for investigating serious crimes involving American troops, has opened a case and five soldiers have been questioned, DeCamp said. No one has been charged.

U.S. troops have been searching government buildings and the homes of senior members of Saddam Hussein's regime for evidence related to weapons of mass destruction or government valuables. The U.S. military has promised to protect the cash and valuables found for a future Iraqi government.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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