More than a million kilograms of cargo were shipped from Baghdad to different parts of the world, reveals US embassies procurement documents.
Mysterious cargo shipments from the US Embassy in Baghdad to other American embassies and consulates around the world have been revealed on a Wikileaks’ database. Procurement orders of US embassies are public documents, but Wikileaks put them in a searchable database making it easier to analyse.
The database displaying worldwide US embassy orders of goods and services reveals Baghdad as a postal and shipping centre for tonnes of freight.
Though military freight might be expected between the US and Iraq, records show that embassies across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa are all receiving deliveries from Baghdad too.
According to Wikileaks’ database, orders to ship more than 540 tonnes of cargo to the US were made in May 2018. The same document shows other main delivery destinations included 120 tonnes of freight to Europe, and 24 tonnes to South Africa, South America and Central Africa respectively. In comparison, only two and a half tonnes of freight were moved within Iraq between Baghdad, Basra and Erbil International Airports. So, the export of items from Iraq appears to be the primary activity.
The content of the deliveries is as yet unclear, though the order contract suggests household items, rugs, electrical goods, linen, kitchenware, furniture, pianos, refrigerators, books, chinaware, clothing as well as mail could be among the items dispatched. According to the website movers.com, an average one bedroom apartment of furniture weighs approximately one tonne but the practicality of moving many types of household objects across continents is doubtful. It also remains unclear whether the quantity of tonnage relates to many small deliveries or a small number of very large ones.
The lack of disclosed orders moving cargo and services into Iraq highlights that the movement of diplomats and their families into such a dangerous region on a large scale is unlikely. Transfers of military personnel back and forth would normally go through the US airbases in Iraq and not via the Embassy administration. So discounting the movement of more than a thousand staff members out of Iraq to countries around the world means that the content and purpose of the shipments remains a mystery.
The Wikileaks’ database findings coincide with the discovery of a previously undisclosed US Embassy warehouse near Malmi Airport, a storage facility suitable for receiving large truckloads of incoming freight. Documents also show that the US Embassy in Finland ordered a new security perimeter fence for the warehouse compound in April 2018. The purpose for the warehouse remains unknown.
This latest uncovering of unusual US embassy activity follows the 2017 exposure of the US Consulate in Frankfurt being used for surveillance operations and as a buying and postal dispatch centre of spying equipment for other US consulates. These latest Wikileaks revelations raise concerns that the US Embassy in Baghdad may also serve as a hub for secret operations worldwide.
The database also reveals that items listed as ‘Tactical Spy Equipment’ were ordered for US embassies in Latin America, with Colombia and El Salvador receiving a range of spy cameras disguised as pens, glasses, hats, USB drives and even shirt buttons.