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Official Uniforms Still Available In Iraq, Lawmakers Say

An Iraqi policeman stands guard at a checkpoint in central Baghdad. It's feared that suicide bombers are able to use army uniforms to pass through such checkpoints.
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi legislators say that procedures must be taken to prevent the sale of army and police uniforms in clothes stores around the country, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Walid Shirka, a member of parliament's Security and Defense Committee, tells RFE/RL that copies of the official uniforms -- including U.S. and Iraqi Army issues -- can be easily bought in clothes shops in downtown Baghdad and in most other Iraqi cities and controls are needed to stop their misuse in unlawful activities.

Baghdad tailor Salim Haidar says that he usually asks the customer ordering a uniform to show identification issued by the Defense or Interior ministry. But Shirka says it is very easy to get a forged identification card.

Deputy Interior Minister Lieutenant General Iden Khalid says that Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani "has ordered that a committee be formed to take stock of these shops [that sell the uniforms] and to close any that do not have an official license from the [Interior] Ministry."

Saad al-Muttalibi, the deputy minister of national dialogue, says that "the measure should have been taken much earlier." Muttalibi confirmed that "army and police uniforms sold without controls offer disguise and cover for insurgent groups and organized crime facilitating their [violent] deeds."

He points out that combined with government vehicles that "can also be obtained without great difficulty, outlaws will pass checkpoints unsuspected."

In mid-November, gunmen wearing uniforms abducted and killed 13 people west of Baghdad. Nine days later gunmen in Iraqi Army uniforms killed a family of six in a small village north of Baghdad.