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.


Assad warns Russia failure may result in ‘destruction’ of whole Middle East

Tunisia President in Egypt for talks on regional issues

In rare step, Israel bars Palestinians from Jerusalem Old City

UAE to invest $35 billion in clean energy by 2021

Sohaib El Oussani reveals backstage of Europe Orient Documentary Film in Asilah

Tunisia joins anti-ISIS coalition to ‘obtain information’

ISIS gunmen shoot dead two Egypt policemen in Sinai

Trump prefers to 'sit back' and see what happens in Syria

Police arrest suspected ISIS recruiters in Spain, Morocco

Turkey, EU strike plan to stem flow of migrants

Iran nuclear review panel gives conditional nod to flawed deal

Erdogan urges Putin to reconsider air campaign in Syria

Iran expels Bahrain envoy in apparent retaliation

First hajj stampede bodies arrive in Iran from Saudi Arabia

US urges Libya rivals to move forward with peace deal

Israeli fire wounds at least 10 Palestinians in West Bank

UAE holds election for advisory council

Erdogan faces tough talks in meeting with EU leaders

Russia airstrikes target ISIS infrastructure facilities in Syria

Powers condemn targeting of Syrian opposition by Russia

Turkey accuses Russia of hitting Syria rebels to bolster Assad

Palestinians kill Israeli couple in West Bank shooting

Russia again strikes Assad regime's foes

Iran backs Russian military strategy in Syria

S&P: Gulf banks' net earnings set to slide

Russia confirms new air strikes on targets in Syria

12 killed in Ankara bus stop crash

Syrians, Afghans clash in German refugee centre

South Sudan's peace deal means little in Koch swamps

Trump: If I’m elected, Syrians go back home!

Iran says 464 dead in Saudi hajj stampede

Saudi, Iran agree to repatriate dead pilgrims

Abbas: Palestinians no longer feel bound by past agreements with Israel

Russia, US to hold ‘de-confliction’ talks on Syria

Three conditions as France voices concern over Russia involvement in Syria

Iraq Kurdish forces recapture land from ISIS jihadists

Tunisia buries Sousse gunman under strict security cordon

Iran diplomat missing after hajj stampede

Six days after hajj tragedy, Iran-Saudi tensions escalate

For first time in history, Palestinians to raise flag at UN

Finland freezes asylum decisions for Iraq, Somalia refugees

UK Labour Party ready to support Syria airstrikes, with conditions

Iran Foreign Minister under fire over ‘Obama handshake’

Parliamentary and religious support as Russia launches airstrikes in Syria

Assad regime strikes kill 27 civilians in central Syria