Ministry of Interior Moles Busted
Wave of Kidnappings, Killings in Mosul, Tikrit
Al-Zaman: American forces killed Shaikh Abdullah al-Ani, the preacher at the mosque in the town of Qaim, near the Syrian border. [This killing of a respected cleric will be causing us trouble for years to come.]
DPA: Iraqi authorities announced that they had busted up 3 terrorist cells operating in Baghdad. Two of them were being run by 2 officials of the Ministry of the Interior! The MoI in Iraq is equivalent to the US FBI, so this would be like having J. Edgar Hoover unwittingly employ at a high level members of the Weathermen bombers back in the 1960s. The third was being run by the head of an investment firm. You wonder if he was manipulating the market with his bombing targets. The cells were operating in the Ghazaliyah and al-Jihad districts of the capital. Although the announcement was probably made to show progress in identifying and breaking up terror cells, I don’t find the news that the Baathists continue to penetrate the Iraqi government very hopeful. It reminds me too much of the ARVN officers who were secretly working for the other side in Vietnam.
Al-Zaman: Guerrillas killed a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party after kidnapping him in Mosul. The police commander of Ninevah Province announced that bombings had declined 80 percent in Mosul, whereas there had been a big jump in the number of kidnappings. On Wednesday guerrillas had kidnapped a cosmetic surgeon and his wife while they were on their way home.
In Suwayrah, Kut Province, two car bombs were discovered before they could be detonated. (Kut is in southeastern Iraq and has an overwhelmingly Shiite population, who are on the lookout for Baathist saboteurs and willingly turn them in. This willingness is the main difference in the number of bombings in the south as opposed to the center-north of the country.)
In Baghdad Kadhim Talal Husain, assistant dean at the School of Education at Mustansiriyah University, was assassinated with his driver in the Salikh district. Guerrillas killed an engineer, Asi Ali, from Tikrit. They also killed Shaikh Hamid ‘Akkab, a clan elder of a branch of the Dulaim tribe in Tikrit. His mother was also killed in the attack. Two other Dulaim leaders have been killed in the past week and a half.
Guerrillas near Hawijah launched an attack that left 6 dead, including 4 Iraqi soldiers. One of them was from the Jubur tribe and was deputy commander of the Hawijah garrison.
Two hundred members of the Batawi clan of the Dulaim demonstrated in Baghdad on Friday, protesting the killing of their clan elder, Shaikh Kadhim Sarhid and 4 of his sons, by gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms. (This is a largely Sunni Arab clan, and some Sunni observers have accused Shiite elements in the government of being behind the assassination; it is more likely the work of Sunni Arab guerrillas punishing the Batawi leaders for cooperating with the Dec. 15 elections.)
Al-Zaman: The Iraqi High Electoral Commission on Friday denied a request of the Debaathification Commission to exclude 51 individuals from running on party lists in the Dec. 15 elections on grounds of having been sufficiently involved in Baath activities to warrant their being excluded from civil office. The Commission said it had no legal grounds for such an exclusion.
This item is a small one and easily missed. But in my view it is highly significant. The Debaathification Commission had been pushed by Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress very hard, and had pushed many Sunni Arabs into the arms of the guerrillas. Chalabi has been increasingly marginalized within Iraq, however, despite his ties of clientelage with Washington and Tehran. He is no longer in the dominant Shiite list, the United Iraqi Alliance, and won’t have many seats in the new parliament. Some 2,000 junior officers of the old Baath army have been recalled to duty in recent months, something Chalabi would have blocked if he could have. Now the Electoral Commission is refusing to punish people for mere past Baath Party membership. The situation in Iraq is only going to get better this way. If someone committed a crime against humanity, prosecute the person. If he or she did not, then they should have all the same rights as other Iraqis.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that a key eyewitness in the trial of Saddam Hussein for a 1982 massacre at Dujail has died. A team from the court managed to take his deposition before he died. The trial begins again Nov.28.