Prices Rise Steeply in Mideast Bounties Market

May 11 2004 by Ross Bender

Bounty prices rose precipitously this week in the Middle East, as Osama bin Laden offered 10,000 grams of gold to anyone who kills Paul Bremer, American Proconsul in Iraq, UN head Kofi Annan, or their deputies.

The reward offer drove prices sharply higher on the Mideast Bounties Index. The United States has a standing price of $25 million on bin Laden's head, but sources speculate that offer may soon double.

Market analysts were divided on the significance of al-Qaeda's move to the gold standard. Gold is currently trading at $376 per ounce on the spot market, making the current offer for Paul Bremer somewhat under $150,000. Mahdi Army bounties for the slaying of British soldiers have been stable at $150 per head, with $350 for a live capture. The reward for killing a member of the Iraqi Governing Council is up slightly to 25,000 Iraqi dinars, making it still hardly worth the effort.

Shiite cleric Mustafa Moussawi al-Khazali al-Badr al-Sadr introduced a new element of potential instability by announcing that captured British female soldiers may be kept by their captors as personal sex slaves. Previously, rewards to militant Muslims have been quoted in virgin futures, but redeemable only in the afterlife. The number of female virgins per male martyr was fixed at 86.7 by OPEC in the last major market realignment in August 2003.

Secretary of Defense Donald "Napoleon" Rumsfeld is said to be "a little hot under the collar" that no price has yet been set upon his head. "Am I a little peeved?" he asked rhetorically at his Friday testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Ya darn tootin' I'm a little sore. Any fool knows I'm worth ten Paul Bremers. Would I consider resigning? Listen, if it weren't for the big fat smirk on Colin Polyp's face, I just might do it. But I don't want to give that two-bit Jamaican octoroon the satisfication [sic]."

Alan Greenspan is reportedly ready to ease bounty interest rates at the next quarterly meeting of the Fed, although probably by no more than a fraction of a point.

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