First Published: 2004-10-14

 
Iraq's spy chief accuses Badr militia of killing agents
 

Shahwani accuses SCIRI of killing members of his intelligence service with help of Iranian embassy.

 

Middle East Online

By Ned Parker - BAGHDAD

Shahwani appears on top right of picture

Iraq's national intelligence chief Mohammed al-Shahwani has accused Iran's Baghdad embassy of masterminding an assassination campaign that has seen 18 intelligence agents killed since mid-September.

Shahwani said a series of raids on three Iranian "safe houses" in Baghdad on September 29 had uncovered a treasure trove of documents linking Iran to plots to kill members of the intelligence service and using the Badr former militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq's (SCIRI) as its tool.

SCIRI has vigourously denied the allegations and counter-charged that the intelligence service is full of veterans of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's military who are now renewing their vendetta against former Shiite resistance groups based out of Iran in the 1980s.

Since mid-September, 18 Iraqi intelligence agents have been killed in Iraq, 10 of them by the Badr organisation on orders from Iran and the rest by Al-Qaeda-linked foreign militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, Shahwani charged.

"Badr and Zarqawi have assassinated 18 of my men," Shahwani said from his heavily-guarded villa in central Baghdad.

Shahwani confirmed that two of his intelligence agents were beheaded by Zarqawi's Unity and Holy War group, as seen in a video released by the fighters on Wednesday.

The intelligence chief said he suspected Tehran was funding Zarqawi, but lacked conclusive proof.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government has escalated its rhetoric against Iran in recent days, accusing the neighbouring Islamic republic of running a campaign of sabotage in Iraq.

But Shahwani's claims of huge caches of documents seized in the September raids are the most explicit charges to date against Iran and the first time an Iraqi party has been publicly named as Tehran's proxy.

Shahwani said that during the raids, "Documents were obtained ... showing the Iranian regime ... is seeking to embroil some of the SCIRI members in subversive acts to exacerbate Iraq's wounds and dominate it."

The intelligence director said the documents showed Iran had a 45-million-dollar budget for sowing chaos in Iraq and had recruited members of Badr and a subsidiary party, Hezbollah, to kill Iraqi intelligence agents.

"A document showed that Iran allocated a budget to Badr Corps, totalling 45 million dollars.

"Among the objectives of this budget is to back the formation of a security service grouping several directorates to carry out a set of subversive acts including ... physical liquidation."

Shahwani flipped through folders of charts and writing in Farsi that he said his agents were still sifting through.

He claimed his intelligence service had obtained the names and addresses of Badr members working directly for Iran.

Badr, the former paramilitary wing of SCIRI, has formerly renounced violence since the party returned to Iraq in the spring of 2003 after a 20-year exile in Iran.

SCIRI vehemently denies the charges.

"These are false accusations made against the organisation. Badr and SCIRI are the biggest threats to terrorists," said SCIRI spokesman Haitham al-Husseini.

Instead, Husseini charged that Shahwani, a general who fled Saddam's Iraq, was running amuck and taking out his bias against Shiite parties which fought Saddam during the 1980s when Iran was at war with Iraq.

"We criticise the way the new intelligence agency is ... hiring ex-officers of Saddam Hussein's military back to their posts. They have a history of targeting SCIRI and Badr members."

The two groups currently serve in the interim parliament and Allawi government.

Shahwani says that four Iraqis who were arrested following a botched assassination attempt on an Iraqi intelligence officer in September belonged to the Hezbollah of Iraq party and had confessed to being on the payroll of Iran's intelligence service

Hezbollah is part of the SCIRI alliance of Shiite parties.

The intelligence chief took out dossiers and glossy photos of 27 members of Iran's embassy in Iraq and accused them of masterminding Iranian covert operations.

"We will ask them to leave the country," Shahwani said.

Shahwani also claimed that Iranian spies had held meetings at Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi's Baghdad home since May when the one-time Pentagon favourite's house was raided by Iraqi police and US forces, saying that Chalabi was suspected by the Americans of leaking intelligence to Iran.

The Iraqi foreign ministry declined to comment on the intelligence chief's allegations against the embassy.

 

US troops to return to Mideast

Palestinians to UN: Israel occupation must end in 2016

Assad: Countries that backed terrorism can't defeat jihadists

Libya militants vow to continue ‘military operations’

Foreign jihad lures Tunisia youth: About 3,000 in Syria alone

Skeptical Netanyahu seeks Obama reassurances on Iran

Turkey pushes for long-term solution to ‘Islamic State’ crisis

Metamorphosis of Salim Benghalem: From weed-smoking clubber to US-wanted jihadist

Violence across Iraq kills at least 1,119 people in September

Bahrain court lifts travel ban on Maryam al-Khawaja

Israel, Palestinians agree on one thing: Futility of peace talks

Netanyahu to Ban Ki-moon: Probe into Gaza war ‘one-sided’!

Kurds battle to defend strategic border town in Syria

Iran Nobel laureate questions Tutu's silence on Dalai Lama visa row

Iraqi Kurds hope US-led air strikes can break stalemate

Argentine President charges US could kill her

IS jihadists close in on Turkish border

Israel settlers forcefully occupy 25 homes in East Jerusalem

Gunmen wound Saudi policeman in Shiite village in Eastern Province

Erakat likens Netanyahu to leader of ‘Islamic State’

Voters to choose among 27 candidates in Tunisia presidential race

Iran offers military equipment to Lebanon army

Iran extends compulsory military service to 2 years

Frustration grows over Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

US-led air strikes pound ‘Islamic State’ near Syria border town

Britain plans action against extremism ‘in all its forms’

Vigilante groups terrorise Syria refugees in Lebanon

Kurd troops launch offensive on IS on three fronts

Balkans clamp down on jihadist recruitment

Syrian refugees try their luck in Latin America

Indian PM warns US to repeat Iraq 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Israel PM warns Iran poses gravest threat to world

Kuwait strips 18 nationals of citizenship

Ahead of Tunisia elections, Ghannouchi appeals for US support

Israel deploys extra forces as two faiths mark major holy days

Egypt, Libya plunge in good governance rating

Saudi Arabia breaks silence on Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

Air strikes fail to halt advance of IS jihadists in Syria

Rival Libya factions meet for reconciliation talks

Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks ‘to resume’ by mid-October

HRW criticises human rights rollback under Erdogan

Syria's Nusra Front chief warns to transfer battle to West

Obama admits to making serious mistake: We underestimated ‘Islamic State’

Germany begins training Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq

Jordan takes ‘precautionary measures’ to secure borders