Thursday, September 01, 2005

' US stole Iraqi manuscripts' story unfounded

An informed source dismissed as unfounded a claim in the Qatari newspaper Al-Raya on 29 August that the United States stole manuscripts from Iraq - including leather Torah scrolls - when Baghdad fell into their hands in April 2003. (With thanks: Iraqijews)

Al-Raya quoted Osama Nasser al-Naqshabandi, who was Director General of Iraqi Manuscripts from 1988 to 2002, as saying: "After occupying Iraq, US forces found a quantity of manuscripts, books and leather scrolls of the Torah in one of the caches of the former intelligence. They confiscated them and placed them in a huge air-conditioned truck."

According to Naqshabandi, "experts of the Iraqi Department of Manuscripts and from the Iraqi Museum gave a report to the Archeology Committee stressing they are archeological items ... and should be given to the Department of Ruins and Heritage. But nobody responded." Informed sources say that the manuscripts were removed under the authority of the Ministry of Education, not the Department of Ruins and Heritage.

Naqshabandi blames Pentagon representative Dr. Ismail Hijara, who was sent to Iraq to supervise the Department of Ruins and Heritage, for ordering [the manuscripts] to be moved to the US. "I tried to convince him not to agree, because Israel has been after them since the 70s.They were written by famous Jewish calligraphers in Baghdad. He (Hijara) didn't care, and they were secretly taken to New York."

Read about the manuscript find here.

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