Monday, October 20, 2003

At Baghdad International Airport, formerly known as Saddam International, Terminal C has been completely refurbished to its gleaming former self.

The bombed-out windows have been replaced. The baggage-screening machines and turnstiles are rolling. New potted plants decorate the spotless waiting areas.

One thing is missing: passengers...

"Technically, everything is OK, and we are ready to fly," says Capt. Abid Ali Aboud, director general of Iraqi Airways. "It's only a matter of security. We wouldn't want anyone to shoot down our planes."

The most serious threats come from portable anti-aircraft missiles. Iraq's military had about 1,500 shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles before the war, and many may now be scattered throughout the country.

U.S. troops are offering a reward of $500 for anyone who turns in the missiles. But they sell for $5,000 each on the black market. Only about 320 have been turned in since May 1, military spokesman Lt. Col. George Krivo says.

Strikes me as odd, being the captalists that we are, that we haven't figured out we could make the streets (and airspace) safer by outbidding the black market...

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