The Gang's All Here!

The story of the looting of the Iraq National Museum brings together seven major groups of participants in this drama.

A. Iraqi museum officials and employees
B. Iraqi citizens / witnesses
C. Iraqi thieves and looters
D. Iraqi military and Fedayeen Saddam
E. US military / administration
F. Foreign correspondents / journalists
G. Archaeological and other academics


Ages and positions are not current; they are valid for the time of the looting of the museum. Since then, they have all (alas) grown older and many are in new positions.

A. Iraqi museum officials and employees

Donny George, “research director of the State Board of Antiquities”

Jaber Khalil / Jaber Khalil Ibrahim, “chair of the State Board of Antiquities”

Nawala al-Mutawalli, “museum director”

Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammed, archaeologist

Muayyad Damerji, former State Board of Antiquities chief and now Minister of Culture advisor

Nabhal Amin, former employee of the museum who lived nearby

Mohsen Hassam, “56-year-old deputy curator” (Burns) / Moysen Hassan

Muhsen Kadhim, security guard

Abdul Rakhman, 57, live-in security guard / Abed El Rahman, “security guard who lives on the premises”

Ali Mahmoud, museum employee / security guard /

B. Iraqi citizens / witnesses / “man on the street”

Many newspaper accounts used Iraqi citizens for “response to the looting” quotes. Roger Atwood was one of the few who used methodical interview practices in his reconstruction of events on April 10 and 11. In the early weeks of May, he visited the streets around the museum complex and tracked down citizens who had witnessed those events. He interviewed, for example, Ibrahim Taha, who worked across the street and was present on both days.
Ibrahim Taha and his colleague were guarding the office of the bus company where they worked when they saw people rushing into the museum, a few doors down. Mr. Taha followed them in and came to a small concrete building at the back of the museum, where he saw something that surprised him: weapons. Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were propped against the wall, more guns were hanging from hooks, and there were boxes of ammunition on the floor. The Iraqi fighters who had brought this arsenal had fled, and looters were busily helping themselves to the weapons.

"I didn't take one, because I already had a Kalashnikov," said Mr. Taha, a compact, solidly built man. Speaking through an interpreter, he told me that a few yards from the weapons cache was a smashed window in the back wall of the museum's main building, through which looters had entered. Mr. Taha saw looters rushing out of the building, some holding clay pots and heavy boxes.

"I heard people saying to them, 'Stop, you are destroying our heritage, you are stealing what belongs to the Iraqi people.' But no one listened to them. You would have had to shoot them to stop them," said Mr. Taha.


C. Iraqi looters and thieves

Col. Bogdanos, in his final report, divided the people who entered the museum during that two-day period in random looters, who removed computers and air conditioners from the administrative offices and then a group of thieves who had both keys and inside knowledge of the layout of the entire museum complex, even the secret storage room in the basement.

D. Iraqi military and Fedayeen Saddam

There is little doubt that the Iraq National Museum was used by both the regular Iraqi soldiers and by the Fedayeen Saddam militia as a fortified position from which to fire upon US forces. Both Iraqi citizens and US forces witnessed fire coming from the museum complex. There were three covered bunkers in the front lawn and at least one sniper nest inside the building.

E. US military

Capt. Jason Conroy, US Army, 3rd Infantry Division, also the soldier who blew up the statue of Saddam Hussein at the reviewing grounds with crossed sabres in central Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class David Richard

U.S. Army Col. Rick Thomas

Lt. Gen. William Scott Wallace

Lt. Erik Balascik

Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz. David Zucchino reports that Schwartz, when told by Perkins that they would be going into Baghdad on a thunder run, responded, “Are you fucking crazy?”

US Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos

Two profiles on Bogdanos:

Profile 1

Profile 2

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

F. Foreign Correspondents / Journalists

Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press

John F. Burns, New York Times

Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald

Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal

David Aaronovitch, Guardian

Roger Atwood

Andrew Lawler, Science

Martin Bailey, Art Newspaper (?)


G. Archaeological and Other Academics

John Malcolm Russell, Critical Studies Dept., Mass. College of Art, Boston, MA

McGuire Gibson, University of Chicago

John Curtis, archaeologist for the British Museum

Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Elizabeth Stone, archaeologist at SUNY Stony Brook

Pietr Michalowski

Eleanor Robson, fellow, All Souls, Oxford, British School of Archeology in Iraq

Koichiro Matsuura, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

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