Saddam’s Mercedes


Now this would be an interesting car to own.

NEW HAVEN — Federal customs agents seized a Mercedes-Benz on Thursday from an Army reservist who said the armor-plated, bulletproof luxury car likely belonged to Saddam Hussein.

First Sgt. William von Zehle said he bought the car while serving in Iraq. U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement agents said the car, which was also equipped with loudspeakers and hidden microphones, was being treated as a “possible war trophy.”

“It belonged to the former Iraqi regime,” ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said. He said investigators were unsure whether the former Iraqi dictator actually owned it.

Von Zehle, of Ridgefield, was quoted in news stories last summer as saying he bought the white 1988 Mercedes Benz 560 SEL for about $5,000 in 2003 while serving in Baghdad with the Danbury-based 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.

“I can’t prove it, but yeah, this was Saddam Hussein’s car,” he said last summer.

Von Zehle said he learned through research that Mercedes sold three armored 560s to the Iraqi government in 1988, while it was headed by Hussein. Von Zehle said he also saw three photos of the former Iraqi dictator driving in a white armored Mercedes.

Von Zehle spotted the car in a driveway in an upscale neighborhood soon after he arrived in Baghdad in April 2003. He negotiated the sale with the owner, who produced a sales receipt that identified the previous owner as “the Iraqi government.”

His Mercedes was shipped through Jordan and Syria to Greece to Spain before finally arriving in May 2004 in the United States. Von Zehle repaired several parts on the car and parked it in his garage once he returned from Iraq.

Among its unique features: The vehicle was equipped with a series of pipes that shoot flames out the side of the car.

Who wouldn’t want a car that shoots flames out the sides?

Really don’t see the big deal here, it’s not like the guy stole the car. The guy risked his life fighting for our country the least we can do is let him buy a trophy car from Iraq. What is the big friggin deal?