Al-Jumaili: Bin Laden received the Iraqi intelligence officer after Turabi’s intervention
Iraq emerged “victorious” from its long war with Iran. Saddam Hussein rejoiced because he lived until he saw Imam Khomeini “drink the poison of the cease-fire,” without realizing his dream of overthrowing the Baath regime. There was an impression that the Iraqi regime would be busy healing its wounds and dealing with its huge debts. No one expected Saddam to commit suicide on the scale of the invasion of Kuwait. The tension with Kuwait has not been a secret since its Emir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad, refused to sign in Baghdad a draft security agreement that the Iraqi president presented to him, but most observers did not expect the crisis to reach the point of a complete invasion and announcing annexation.
Hard to believe happened. At dawn on the second of August (August) 1990, the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Army were summoned to the headquarters of the General Command, and an officer informed them that units of the Republican Guard had infiltrated the lands of Kuwait at night. Iraqi intelligence officers, including Salem al-Jumaili, director of the America Division, heard the news of the invasion on the radio. Since that date, it has been reported that the date of the invasion was a secret known only to 3 people. They are the president and his son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, and his relative, Ali Hassan al-Majid.
The intelligence found itself facing a completely new reality. Al-Jumaili describes the invasion of Kuwait as “the great mistake that broke the back of the Iraqi regime and plunged it into a siege that destroyed the economy, gnawed society, halted development and subjected the regime to repeated threats and inspection committees.”
Iraq has turned into an isolated island surrounded by international resolutions, sanctions, and categorical regional condemnations of what the regime has done. The American forces, the Iraqi army, suffered heavy losses, and the Iraqi opposition found an opportunity they had never dreamed of. The Iraqi regime’s burdened record of invading Kuwait later facilitated the administration of George W. Bush to exploit the attacks of September 11, 2001, to launch the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
To justify the invasion, the US administration gave several excuses, including weapons of mass destruction and what it called Saddam’s regime’s relations with the “Al-Qaeda” organization. Al-Jumaili says that Iran played a prominent role in passing fabricated and misleading information through a well-known Iraqi dissident.
For two decades, there has been an ongoing debate about whether there was contact between Saddam’s regime and Al-Qaeda.
It was “coincidence” that the man I was interlocuting with, Al-Jumaili, sent the first oral message to “Al-Qaeda” leader Osama bin Laden, who was residing in Sudan, using a Syrian “Brotherhood” channel. The first attempt faltered, but mediation by Sheikh Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the “Islamic Front” and godfather of Omar al-Bashir’s regime, led to bin Laden’s agreement to receive a director in the Iraqi intelligence named Farouk Hijazi, who was executed after the American invasion in another case. I will let Jumaili tell.
Before the invasion of Kuwait, we had a security agreement with Saudi Arabia stipulating that each of the two parties refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the other side and from practicing espionage and security activities on its soil. Relations were good, but this agreement practically ended with the invasion of Kuwait without officially canceling it. Information began to circulate about contacts between Saudi Arabia and the Iraqi opposition. We wrote to the president proposing to cancel the security agreement with Saudi Arabia, but he refused. He later requested that we provide him with a monthly report on this matter. He later concluded that Saudi Arabia had begun to support regime change, so he directed “to work with all force, especially to undermine the American military presence.”
When a directive of this kind is issued by the president personally, all concerned agencies must search for all the papers that can contribute to its implementation. At that time, I was in charge of the Syria Division in the apparatus, and we had relations with the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Syria, the wing of Adnan Uqla. Abd al-Malik, Adnan’s brother, sent that the Brotherhood had relations with bin Laden, and that they were ready to deliver our message to him. I summoned him and received him in a hotel in Baghdad, and he confirmed his readiness to play this role. He was carried by a verbal message to the effect that we now have a common goal; Expelling the American forces from the Arabian Peninsula and the region, and we can cooperate in this regard. We gave him travel expenses and it was in the range of $10,000.
The man returned after a month or a little more, and informed us that bin Laden’s position was very strict, and that he had repeated several times that the regime in Iraq was infidel, and it was he who caused the arrival of the American forces, and that there was no room for any meeting with his representatives or cooperation with him. Of course, we are talking about the early years of the nineties, and there were no al-Qaeda operations as part of the September 11 attacks. And I heard that day from a director in the agency, Farouk Hijazi, that a similar response from Bin Laden came through another channel.
I later understood that Hijazi later visited Khartoum and met Bin Laden after mediation by a Sudanese politician and cleric (Dr. Hassan al-Turabi), who was also reported to have participated in the meeting. Hijazi briefed the president on what happened, and there was no cooperation with Al-Qaeda. This is what George Bush Jr. meant when he said that the president had sent an envoy to bin Laden. I think he knew there was no cooperation, but he refrained from mentioning it to justify the invasion.
I will interrupt al-Jumaili’s account a bit to quote another source. He said that bin Laden asked during the meeting about the possibility of moving to Iraq and setting up a camp for al-Qaeda there. He added that Saddam asked Hijazi himself for his opinion, and his response was that it would be difficult to control the “Al-Qaeda” group, and the price of hosting them would be exorbitant, so Saddam ordered not to respond to bin Laden’s message, and relations were severed.
Al-Jumaili confirmed that Al-Turabi’s relations with Saddam Hussein’s regime were strong, indicating that he was not aware of whether the Sudanese leader had obtained Iraqi support or not.
After the attacks of September 11, Western agencies reported that a contact had taken place between Muhammad Atta, one of the perpetrators of these attacks, and a representative of the Iraqi intelligence in a hotel outside Prague. The name of the intelligence man was Ibrahim Al-Ani and he works under the name Ahmed Al-Ani. Al-Jumaili confirms that he participated in the investigation with the man who denied that such a meeting took place, and narrated that he found himself in the hotel to meet one of his sources, but he turned away when he felt a strange movement in the hotel. He confirmed that he did not see Mohamed Atta and did not shake hands with him. After the invasion, he met Al-Jumaili Al-Ani in prison and asked him the question again, and he replied that what he said previously was literally the truth and he did not hide anything from the agency.
The story of Abdul Rahman Yassin
Another thorny file that poisoned US-Iraqi relations in the nineties was the file of Abd al-Rahman Yassin, an American of Iraqi origin who was imprisoned in Iraq and disappeared after the US invasion, and no trace of him was found later.
In 1993, the World Trade Center in New York was subjected to a bombing attack carried out by a group of Al-Qaeda, whose members included two Iraqi brothers. The American authorities arrested the two brothers, but were forced to release one of them. He is Abd al-Rahman Yassin due to lack of evidence, and the laws were not strictly then today. Abdul Rahman left America for Jordan, and then moved to Iraq.
After a while, it was proven to the American services that he participated in making the huge bomb that was placed in a truck and used in the explosion. The Americans said that he is in Iraq and with the knowledge of the intelligence services in this country. We knew he was in Iraq, but we didn’t know where he was. We searched for him for 6 months, and found him working in a car repair shop in the popular Al-Shia district of Baghdad.
We put Abd al-Rahman in prison and informed the president, who feared that he was sent to implicate Iraq in the terrorism file. Thus, the decision was made to inform the Americans of his presence. He asked the director of the intelligence station in New York to contact the American intelligence and inform them that we are holding him, and we have complete information about the bombing of the World Trade Center. During the interrogation, Abd al-Rahman confessed and told the story, and said that he participated in the implementation in response to what Iraq was subjected to in 1991 at the hands of the American army. The man is American and crime has taken place on American soil.
The Americans asked that the information be sent to them in writing. The president’s response was clear: “We do not write reports for them. If they want us to come to an understanding, we will talk directly about the matter.” Thus, the issue remained pending from 1993 to 2001. We were keeping the man in a small building under guard in Kadhimiya, and on the last floor was an Iranian pilot whose plane was shot down over Iraq before the war with Iran broke out.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Americans raised the issue again, from the angle that Iraq sponsors terrorism. We decided at the device to re-examine his delivery. We put the Egyptian intelligence on the line, and the Americans agreed to send an American plane to take him, but the president did not agree to the arrival of an American plane. We suggested that the Americans come in an Egyptian plane, and the president did not mind. A new node has appeared. The Americans refused to sign a statement of his receipt, and the president feared that they would later claim that they took it in another way, and that they would accuse Iraq. Thus, the man remained detained. When the invasion took place, he was transferred to a prison in Fallujah and disappeared from there, and since that date, nothing is known about his fate.
I returned the conversation to the exchange of Iraqi-Iranian blows, and Al-Jumaili agreed.
Tough confrontation in Karachi
In 1986, in the framework of the open war, the Iranian intelligence in Karachi targeted the director of the Iraqi intelligence station, N. Abdulsalam. Abd al-Salam was passing through a crowded market, leaving his car window open. One of the agents approached him and threw a grenade into the car. He was unable to jump, and the explosion killed him. The director of the device (Fadel Al-Barrak) went to console the mother of the martyr, and he was so affected, he promised her to bring the heads of the killers to Baghdad.
The Iraqi intelligence made a great effort to identify the four perpetrators. A special operations team consisting of an intelligence officer (KB) and two operations leaders headed by (M.J) went to Karachi, and with a well-thought-out plan, the two perpetrators were lured to a specially rented apartment that was equipped to carry out retribution. As soon as they entered the apartment, they found themselves trapped in a tight ambush, and they were doomed to death. At that time, it was reported in the apparatus that their heads had arrived in Baghdad in a bag belonging to the diplomatic mail.
Iranian strike in Beirut
Five years before that, Beirut had witnessed a resounding strike directed by the Iranian apparatuses against the Iraqi embassy in Beirut, killing dozens of people, including Bilqis, the wife of the poet Nizar Qabbani. Al-Jumaili recounts the incident. Since 1975, Lebanon entered the civil war and became an arena of full influence for Syria. The Iraqi diplomatic and intelligence presence on the Lebanese scene was annoying to Syria, but Iraq was unable to confront it because of its preoccupation with the war with Iran. In 1981, the Syrian intelligence services actively participated in the bombing of the Iraqi embassy in Beirut, after they had, on the day before the bombing, disrupted the work of the crossbar (iron barrier) that was forcing oncoming cars to stop to obtain an entry permit. This made it easier for the suicide bomber, who was from the “Dawa” party and whose name was Abu Mariam Al-Karadi, to reach the bottom of the main building of the embassy and destroy it completely.
The assassination of Muhammad Mahdi al-Hakim in Khartoum
Later, specifically in 1988, the exchange of strikes will extend to Sudan. Muhammad Mahdi al-Hakim, brother of Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, one of the founders of the Dawa party, was active in the pro-Iranian opposition abroad after he managed to leave Iraq. He was continuing his call for the overthrow of the regime in Iraq and the establishment of an Islamic regime in cooperation with Iran. A decision was taken to target him during his participation in a conference there, on the sidelines of which a meeting was held with Dr. Hassan al-Turabi.
The attack was carried out in the hotel where he was staying. After that, one of the perpetrators was able to go to Khartoum airport and board an Iraqi Airways plane that had just arrived and returned to Baghdad at the last moment. On the other hand, the second officer involved in the execution went to the Iraqi embassy to bring his passport, which he left there. At this time, the Sudanese security forces surrounded the embassy and started checking the identities of those who left. A plan had to be devised to get him out of the embassy first, and then smuggle him to Iraq on board the Iraqi Airways plane on its weekly flight.
The officer was smuggled out of the embassy in the ambassador’s car, and the officer was transported to the vicinity of Khartoum Airport without going through the ambassador’s routine procedures. He was transported into the airport at nine o’clock at night through the airport’s outer fence by a senior Sudanese security officer. This was preceded by a meeting at Saddam International Airport between officers from special operations and the pilot of the Iraqi plane heading to Khartoum, and he did not know anything about the mission.
He asked the pilot to make a movement in the aircraft’s lights when heading to the runway (turning off and on the lights alternately 3 times), which is a signal to the officer and the person smuggling him. He also asked the pilot to stop at the beginning of the runway for a few minutes, to allow the back door (emergency door) to open, and not to move until the back door was closed and he received the take-off signal. To ensure implementation, two officers of the agency were disguised as flight attendants and part of the flight crew. The plan succeeded and the executing officer returned to Baghdad, without the pilot or the passengers knowing what had happened.