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[casi] Iraqis plan to revive Mukhabarat

Interesting piece from the Jerusalem Post on-line


Iraqis plan to revive Mukhabarat
by Matthew Gutman
Jersusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2003

BAGHDAD  Several of the most powerful parties in the Iraqi Governing
Council plan to resurrect the Mukhabarat intelligence service, Saddam
Hussein's most brutal instrument of state terrorism, in a push to rout the
Ba'athist-led terrorist network, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Saddam's Mukhabarat is largely held responsible for the disappearance and
execution of about 780,000 Iraqis.

The initiative exposes both the failure of the coalition forces to gather
intelligence on the insurgency and an Iraqi populace increasingly desperate
for security.

"We will use their own dogs to hunt them down," Nabil al-Musawi, deputy
president of the Iraqi National Congress and the party's chief of security,
said Thursday. Musawi, who lost five members of his family to Mukhabarat
execution squads, noted that many of the 27,000 Mukhabarat members will be
used as agents to rout out Saddam and crush the debilitating insurgency.

"To think that I am supporting this idea surprises even me. But we have to
be realistic... If I have to deal with the devil for short-term gain for the
sake of my people, then I will," Musawi said.

His organization, he said, has used Saddam's informants for months, yielding
dozens of arrests and preventing several attacks.

However, the reactivation, even if partial, could ignite a firestorm of
outrage among most Iraqis, for whom the name Mukhabarat conjures up the
image of the purest manifestation of evil in Saddam's regime.

Musawi said that of the thousands of Mukhabarat agents, only about 4,000
were directly involved in the orgies of rape, torture, extortion, and the
planning of mass executions. They will be hunted down and tried, he said.

The INC, the Iraqi National Accord (INA), the Supreme Council for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and the Kurdistan Democratic Party have already
enlisted a "large number" of Mukhabarat officers "who can work to find
Saddam even in areas loyal to him," said Ali Abdel Amir, the editor of INA's
daily, Baghdad Today.

According to Iraqi intelligence data, much of the insurgency is run by
former members of the Mukhabarat, who dispatch foreign suicide bombers, most
of them from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
The INA had maintained contacts with top officers in the Mukhabarat and the
Ba'ath Party during Saddam's rule and had apparently orchestrated at least
one failed coup. Those links, even with those among the insurgents, still
exist, said Amir.

These agents, said Musawi and Amir, already deliver a constant stream of
data to their operators. Centralizing the information and "bringing in as
many as possible with knowledge" could help the coalition turn the corner
against the insurgency, Musawi said.

"Remember," he added, "someone who is very bad led us to Uday and Qusay
[Saddam's two sons killed in Mosul in July] and received $30 million for it.

But the benefit for society was worth it."
The INC and INA indicated that they intend to codify the level of the
Mukhabarat's power into the constitution.

The level of American involvement in the initiative remains unclear. Amir
claimed that the US supports the initiative, and that Special Forces
officers and the CIA had met with former Mukhabarat officials. But Musawi
would only say that the initiative is still under consideration.
A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority said that he had "heard
nothing of the initiative."

At the start of the occupation, the US stated that it would not use
Ba'athist officials in any capacity, but has increasingly relied on them as
bureaucrats and informants.

The local parties here charge the US with failing to heed the advice of
Iraqi intelligence sources and banning the army and the intelligence
branches, then failing to heed intelligence warnings from Iraqis.

Reaction to Iraqi intelligence tips was until excruciatingly slow very
recently. Information from documents to human intelligence was sent from the
field to Washington for analysis before being sent back to soldiers or
agents on the ground. The process was both time-consuming and frustrating
for Iraqis, who chaffed at American condescension and at their failure to
"implement the necessary tools to capture Saddam."

However, the coalition forces seem to be correcting their mistakes, giving
an increasingly free hand to the Iraqi parties to gather intelligence and
defend themselves against the terrorists. On Wednesday, IGC President Said
Abdel Aziz al-Hakim unveiled plans for an Iraqi military unit composed of
militiamen from five former opposition parties.

The US easing of restrictions on those allowed to carry arms has enabled a
cottage industry of private security firms to spring up in Baghdad in recent
weeks and months.

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