A sword once owned by Saddam Hussein has been returned to Iraqi officials after an auction company in New Hampshire sold it for $15,000.
The sword, which is inlaid with real gold and features an Arabic verse on the sheath, was allegedly stolen from Hussein's office after the U.S. invaded Iraq and smuggled into the country by military personnel. After the auction, Homeland Security conducted an investigation to determine whether it was the real thing, as several items can be found on various auction sites with claims to Hussein ties that have not been authenticated.
"Cultural property – such as the sword being returned today to the people of Iraq – represents part of a country’s history that should have never been stolen or auctioned," said HSI Associate Director James Dinkins. "We will continue conducting these types of investigations to ensure that current and future generations aren’t robbed of their nation’s history."
Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily released a statement about the return of the sword, saying he thinks the gesture proves a deep friendship between Iraq and the U.S. that must continue to grow.
"On behalf of the government and the people of Iraq, I would like to express thanks and appreciation to the U.S. government and Homeland Security Investigations special agents – the soldiers behind the scene – and all of those who contributed in restoring this heritage that belongs to Iraq and its people," said Ambassador Faily. "Today is one of these historic days that documents the deep relationship, cooperation and friendship between Iraq and the United States and also shows again the U.S. commitment for rebuilding Iraq and preserving its cultural heritage."
Image: Dept. Of Homeland Security