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RE: [casi] accusation that Iraq gives remuneration to suicide bombers' families

> A few days ago I saw Wesley Clark, former high ranking
> military officer, now correspondent for either CNN,
> MSNBC, or Fox (I think the former) make the comment
> that Palestinian suicide bombers' families are given
> monetary compensation from Iraq.  This was an
> accusation I'd never heard before.
> With NO interest in being a Saddam apologist, I do
> want to keep my facts correct.  Can anyone comment on
> this?

Hi Lisa,

The claim is generally correct, but is presented in what is likely a
deliberately misleading fashion.  In fact, the Iraqi government claims to
pay the families of all Palestinians killed in the intifada, the vast
majority of whom are not suicide bombers.  Lesser sums are paid to
Palestinians wounded and to those who've had their houses demolished by the
Israeli army.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has also made this claim recently,
cited various figures on April 1, in separate statements.  At a press
briefing (,
he explained:

"Well, as I'm sure you've read, the Iraqis, Saddam Hussein, have announced
that they're offering stipends to families of people -- of suicide bombers.
They've decided that that's a good thing to do, so they're running around
encouraging people to be suicide bombers and offering -- I think I saw
something like $10,000 per family."

An American Forces Press Service story that same day
( gave a
slightly different figure:

" 'I think the world ought to know that Saddam Hussein's idea of having a
nice day is offering $10-, $20- or $30,000 ... to families who talk their
children into going out and blowing up a restaurant in Tel Aviv or
Jerusalem,' he said."

Rumsfeld's confusion over the figures may stem from the Iraqi government's
decision to increase the payments from $10,000 to $25,000 last month.  I've
attached below the Reuters story reporting this.  It explains that the Iraqi
government has been involved in payments like this since the start of the
second intifada.  This has probably increased its standing in parts of the
Arab world: while other Arab leaders are perceived as talking, Saddam is
seen to be taking action.

One of the ironies of this policy is that both the Iraqi and the US
governments are publicising it.  A lesser one is that the Iraqi government
is making payments in US dollars, and not in euros.  (It protested loudly to
gain the right to sell its oil in euros instead of in the currency of the

Colin Rowat

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Iraq raises aid to Palestinian uprising victims.

BAGHDAD, March 11 (Reuters) - Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said
Iraq would grant $25,000 in cash to the family of each Palestinian killed in
clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank and Gaza.

"President Saddam Hussein has recently told head of the Palestinian
political office Farouq al-Kaddoumi his decision to raise the sum granted to
each family of the martyrs of the Palestinian uprising to $25,000 instead of
$10,000," Aziz said.

"It is a very simple contribution, which we consider as a modest one due to
the circumstances of the sanctions," Aziz told Arab politicians and
representatives of non-governmental organisations late on Sunday.

Iraq also grants $1,000 to each Palestinian wounded in the uprising and
$5,000 to Palestinians whose homes were demolished by Israeli forces, he

In December 2000, Iraq pledged to allocate one billion euros ($930 million)
of its oil-for-food deal with the United Nations to buy food and medicine
for the Palestinians and help the families of people killed or wounded in
the uprising, but the United Nations did not approve the pledge.

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq in August 1990 as punishment for its 1990
invasion of Kuwait, which ended when a U.S.-led international alliance
ejected Iraqi troops in 1991.

Iraq fired 39 scud missiles against Israel in the Gulf War and rejects peace
talks as a sell-out of the Palestinian cause.

Baghdad has always taken a hard line towards Israel. Saddam said at the
start of the Palestinian uprising that Iraq was ready "to put an end to
Zionism" if Arab rulers did not defend the Palestinians against Israel.

At least 1,022 Palestinians and 333 Israelis have been killed since the
uprising began in September 2000 after peace talks deadlocked.

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