Entries in Saddam Hussein (13)


Report: Mossad Tried to Kill Saddam with Exploding Book

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which has a long history of using techniques like exploding phones and assassins in wigs to take out Israel's enemies, tried and failed to kill Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with a book bomb in the 1970s, according to documentary that airs in Israel Monday night.

But the film Sealed Lips says that the notoriously paranoid Hussein refused to open the package containing the book himself, and instead had another Iraqi official open it. The official was killed. Brigadier-General Tzuri Sagi, the mastermind of the alleged operation, told filmmakers the device was prepared by an Israeli bombmaker identified only as "Natan."

The movie, which details the career of Yitzhak Yofi, head of the Mossad from 1974 to 1982, reveals that Mossad also used a letter-bomb in a failed hit on Nazi Alois Brunner, Adolf Eichmann's right-hand man in the extermination of Jews. Brunner had been living in Syria for decades. He is reported to have died of natural causes in 1996.

The alleged attempt on Saddam Hussein's life had previously been unreported, though two subsequent alleged Mossad assassination attempts in 1992 and 1999 have been mentioned in the media.

In the early 1970s Israel was believed to have been assisting the Iraqi Kurdish separatist guerillas via the Shah of Iran's special forces. Iraq and Iran fought a bloody war from 1980 to 1989. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein bombed Tel Aviv and Israel's main seaport Haifa with Scud missiles.

The Mossad has a rich history of targeted assassinations, mainly against Palestinian faction leaders. In the 1970s, Israeli agents killed a member of Black September, which was responsible for the 1972 Olympics massacre, by detonating his telephone. Most recently, a hit squad made up of dozens of men and women traveling on fake passports and wearing disguises that included wigs and tennis outfits were believed to have assassinated Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room in 2010.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Saddam Hussein's Secretary Executed

AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Another member of the late Saddam Hussein's inner circle died by execution in Iraq Thursday.

The Iraqi justice ministry said that Abed Hamid Hmoud, at one time the fourth most wanted member of Hussein's regime, was hanged -- the fifth to receive capital punishment.

A distant cousin of Hussein, Hmoud was the Iraqi president's private secretary, who apparently had more clout than many of the ministers in the powerful Baathist government.

However, it only took three months to find Hmoud after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.  He was tried and convicted two years ago for planning the crackdown of rival political groups that involved assassinations and unlawful detentions.

Hussein's regime caused the deaths of tens of thousands of minority Kurds and majority Shiites, especially during the 1980s and 1990s.

The dictator, who ruled for more than 25 years, was executed in December 2006.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


After 20 Years, Families of Genocide Victims Bury Their Dead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The bodies of 730 victims of Saddam Hussein’s military campaign against Kurdistan, their coffins draped in the Kurdish flag, returned home to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on Monday and were finally laid to rest.

Their remains were discovered last year in the desert in southern Iraq, and subsequently identified as Kurds massacred in 1988 by the former regime.  It’s believed they were either buried alive or executed with a bullet to the head, before their bodies were transported south of Baghdad in an effort to conceal the crime.

The coffins were laid out at a ceremony in Sulaymaniyah attended by grieving families and local political leaders.  The dead will be buried in Chamchamal, where a monument has been erected in the memory of those who perished in the genocide.  It’s estimated that more than 180,000 Kurds were killed and thousands displaced during what became known as the Anfal campaign.

The central government in Baghdad did not send any high-level representatives, but in a symbolic move, the Iraqi national anthem was played at Monday’s ceremony.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Saddam Crony Appears to Surface in New Video

Salah Malkawi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A frail-looking man with a striking resemblance to former Iraqi Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri has turned up in a video posted on YouTube -- the most recent evidence to date that he possibly remains the highest-ranking member of the late Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime to elude capture over the past nine years.

Al-Douri helped Saddam rise to power in a 1968 military coup and remained a valued member of the dictator's inner circle until the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 displaced Saddam and sent the rest of his minions scattering.

Named the "King of Clubs" from a playing deck given to American soldiers to help them find Saddam and the Baathist fugitives, al-Douri has long been suspected of helping to finance and organize Sunni insurgents determined to take back the country from the Shiite-dominated government.

In the hour-long video, a man purported to be al-Douri dressed in military garb proclaims, "Our Baath (party), on its 65th anniversary, is in a major historic war.  I call on this...occasion for all the progressive resistance forces and all the national Islamic resistance forces to work for the liberation."

The speaker goes on to criticize Baghdad's alliance with a former sworn enemy, saying, "The political process today is...for the benefit of Iran, which is carrying the most dangerous project for the Persians, with the intention of taking over Iraq and then destroying the nation."

As evidence that the video was produced recently, al-Douri, or someone who looks just like him, supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on anti-government forces, criticizing Arab states for "calling for armies to invade Syria and erase its people, as happened in Iraq and Libya."

Responding to the video, an official with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a statement, saying, "Al-Douri wants to spread terrorism and sectarian violence under the pretext of resistance.  This will not affect the work of the government or the political process."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kurdish President Warns of New Iraqi Dictatorship

SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is Iraq headed toward another Saddam Hussein-style dictatorship?

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region, suggested that possibility on Thursday.

Barzani, who was in Washington to meet with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, said that unless Baghdad resolves simmering disputes involving its ethnic and political factions, the situation would be ripe for an autocratic government.

That would certainly distress the U.S., which spent nine years trying to help the Iraqis build a stable democracy.

Much of the problem lies with Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been accused of marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds in an effort to consolidate power.

Barzani told reporters, "I have called on all the Iraqi parties and groups to get together and find a solution for this situation."  Otherwise, he would have to explain to the Kurdish population what their next step might entail.

The Kurdish leader was careful not to mention independence from the central government, which most in his region desire.

Tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds have been exacerbated since the Kurdistan Regional Government cut off oil exports to Iraq, saying Baghdad owed it $15 billion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rights Group Claims Iraq Returning to Days of Saddam Hussein

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq nearly nine years ago, the country under Saddam Hussein was considered a police state where free speech was rare, anti-government protests were virtually non-existent and imprisoned political prisoners faced torture and death.

Now, Human Rights Watch claims that Iraq is sliding back that way again.

In fact, the New York-based human rights group says that the Obama administration, in its haste to extricate itself from the long war, "left behind a budding police state."

The accusation of Iraq becoming an autocratic regime is found in Human Rights Watch's annual report in which it alleges the government regularly intimidates activists, tortures detainees, and harasses journalists.


Iraqi researcher Samer Muscati, who contributed to the report, maintains that "Iraqis are quickly losing ground on the most basic of rights, including the right to free speech and assembly.  Nowadays, every time someone attends a peaceful protest, they put themselves at risk of attack and abuse by security forces or their proxies."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Saddam Hussein's Dinnerware Returned by NYC Restaurant

US Attorney's Office(NEW YORK) -- Officials in New York have returned to Iraqi diplomats dinnerware once belonging to Saddam Hussein and the family of King Faisal II that was looted, then illegally imported to the United States and sold on eBay.

Nineteen dinner and salad plates, some which contained the official seal of Iraq, were being used at the Park Avenue Autumn restaurant as part of an art exhibit. The plates, officials say, were returned to Iraqi representatives at the United Nations on Tuesday.

“After being advised of the illegal status of the Iraqi Plates, Creative Time, the owner of the Iraqi Plates, agreed to voluntarily relinquish them to the custody of the United States Attorney’s Office, so they could be returned to their rightful owner, the Republic of Iraq,” the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wednesday.

News of the discovery comes on the same day President Obama marked the end of the war in Iraq with an address to troops at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Wednesday also marks eight years to the day that Saddam Hussein was discovered hiding in a spider hole and captured by U.S. forces.

The items are just a few among a large collection of artifacts that were stolen from Baghdad palaces and museums when U.S. tanks rumbled into the country’s capital back in early 2003.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Condoleezza Rice’s Retrospect on Iraq: ‘We Could Have Done Better’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- She served eight years in the Bush administration as national security advisor and secretary of state, and now Condoleezza Rice is out with a memoir, No Higher Honor, where she paints a detailed picture of policy making while conducting two wars.

Though she never directly addressed it in her book, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked her the question on many people’s minds -- if she thought the war in Iraq was worth the sacrifice in lives lost and money spent.

“Now, we didn’t go to Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqis.  And I try in the book to really explain that that wasn’t the purpose,” Rice said.

“This was a security threat of Saddam Hussein, who had started wars before, used weapons of mass destruction, was shooting at aircraft in the no-fly zone, was still threatening his neighbors, had tried to assassinate George H.W. Bush, was a cancer in the Middle East and a great source of that volatility in the Middle East, needed to be dealt with,” she said.  “And I, as much as anybody, understand and really regret the cost, particularly in lives.  But I also know that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice.”

Rice remained confident that Hussein was not “removable by any other means” and writes in her book that she’s “grateful that today’s concern is not an impending nuclear arms race between Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.”

But don’t we know now that Hussein had no meaningful nuclear weapons program?

“He had the scientists, he had the infrastructure,” Rice said.  “He was buying all kinds of stuff through front companies.  He had not reconstituted it.  But the idea that Saddam Hussein had given up on weapons of mass destruction, I think, is simply ahistorical... And I cannot imagine that Saddam Hussein watching Iran move along a nuclear path [and not reacting], given all the infrastructure he had, given all the knowledge he had, given that we know that when in 1991, the inspectors got there, he was far closer to his nuclear device than they thought.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Was $6.6 Billion in Iraqi Reconstruction Funds Stolen?

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A congressional auditor is alleging that up to $6.6 billion in cash that was supposed to have gone toward rebuilding Iraq might have been swiped.

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, made that accusation to The Los Angeles Times.

The billions were earmarked by Congress during the previous Bush administration to help Iraq rebuild following the 2003 invasion and war to depose dictator Saddam Hussein.

Federal officials have testified that accounting errors were responsible for the government being unable to find the loot that was transported on C-130 Hercules cargo planes.  But Bowen puts it more bluntly, saying that the lost money could be the result of "the largest theft of funds in national history."

Not much has been done to try and locate the missing billions either.  The Pentagon hasn't determined how the cash could have just vanished, while the Iraqi government claims that the U.S. is responsible for finding the funds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Britain Set to Bring Last Troops Home from Iraq

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The Iraq war ends for Britain next Sunday.

That's when the last of Britain's forces, approximately 100 Navy personnel, will leave Iraq.

At the start of the operation to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein, Britain sent 46,000 troops to Iraq, second only to the U.S.  During most of the eight-year war, British forces were deployed in the southern, Shiite-dominated part of the country, home to 90 percent of Iraq's oil supplies.

At least 179 British soldiers have died in the war, far fewer than the 4,450 fatalities suffered by the U.S. since March 2003.

Most in Britain are glad to see their military's involvement end as a majority opposed the war from its onset.

The U.S. is planning to withdraw virtually all of its remaining 50,000 troops from Iraq by the end of this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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