A weapon collector who bought two old guns from the Israeli Army was surprised to find, inscribed on each of the guns, a personal dedication from the overthrown Iraqi President to his cousin, "Chemical Ali."
In the course of the second Gulf war, foreign sources claimed that Israeli forces were operating on Iraqi territory and assisting the U.S. Army. The rumors have never been confirmed. However, two Iraqi-made guns purchased from the Israeli Defense Forces about nine years ago add to the mystery surrounding the story.
The current affair, exposed last Friday, April 6, by Ya'acov Shlesinger, the editor of the regional newspaper Uvda (or "Fact") published in northern Israel, began when Sh. K., a weapon collector, bought several hundred old guns from the Israel Defense Forces—booty taken in wars and battles. When opening one of the fancy cases, he was surprised to find two Iraqi-made Tariq handguns inscribed with a personal dedication from overthrown Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who was, among other governmental and military posts he held, Saddam Hussein's Defense Minister. Al-Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali," was notorious for his role in the Iraqi government's campaigns (in the 1980s and 1990s) against the ethnic Kurdish rebels and for his use of chemical weapons in the attacks against them. Like Saddam Hussein, he was executed by hanging by the new regime in Iraq.
The firearms under discussion are Tariq 9 mm pistols, stamped with the image of Tariq ibn Ziyad, a Muslim general who led the Muslim conquest of Spain, c. 720 A.D. and was idolized by Saddam Hussein. The pistols were inscribed with a personal dedication reading as follows: "To my dear cousin, General Ali Hassan al-Majid, with thanks and appreciation, from President Saddam Hussein, Baghdad, July 2001."
Sh. K. has his own guess as to the mysterious way by which the guns reached the IDF. However, in a talk with a Maariv correspondent he suggested that "each one can have a try guessing and, letting his imagination run wild, reach his own conclusion."