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memri
June 27, 2003 No.
530

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: Arafat Transferred Intelligence on Iraqi Opposition to Saddam's Regime

The London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published a confidential document attesting to intelligence coordination between top officials in the Palestinian leadership, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and the regime of Saddam Hussein, against Iraqi opposition organizations.

The document, a coded telegram sent March 3, 2000 from the Iraqi intelligence bureau in Amman, Jordan to Baghdad's General Intelligence Department, was obtained by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani. According to the telegram, Arafat warned the Iraqi regime of attacks on the Iraqi city of Kirkuk planned by the Iraqi opposition. The following is a translation of the telegram along with a summary of commentary by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat correspondent Shirzad Shaikhani : [1]

"Code Name 202 [Jar Allah, Second Secretary at the Iraqi Embassy in Amman] [2] announced, without the knowledge of Code Name 347 [Sabah Yassin, Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan] that Palestinian Ambassador [to Iraq] 'Azzam Al-Ahmad asked to meet with the above code name [Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan] and to give him a coded letter from Yasser Arafat to Tareq 'Aziz. Following is the text of the letter:"

"'Brother Abu 'Ammar received a letter from his acquaintances that said that Jalal Talabani, together with the Kurdish Islamic Movement, Baqir Al-Hakim's [3] group, and a number of Iraqi officers who fled with direct Iranian support and incitement, are planning to attack Kirkuk. In advance of the attack, flyers were distributed, to prepare for the 'No-rouz' Intifada, in a arrangement similar to the one of 1991, [4] so that it will be accompanied by disturbances and [resistance] operations in the center and the south [of Iraq].'"

"The letter said that the attack on Kirkuk would be an Iranian reaction to the recent Mujahideen Khalq operation. [5] The letter's sender asked Brother Abu 'Ammar to act quickly in cooperation with Iraq so as to ease the tension with Iran and with the Kurdish forces so that this would not be a threat to the region. Brother Abu 'Ammar asked me to give this to you, and he, on his part, is willing to act however you see fit. End. Received 16:30."

According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat correspondent Shirzad Shaikhani, the Iraqi intelligence apparatus customarily recruited agents at embassies of various countries worldwide to spy on Iraqi diplomats, and gave these agents powers to coordinate and collaborate with spies and agents recruited for the Iraqi regime, behind the ambassadors' backs.

Shaikani said that the Iraqi intelligence bureau in Amman, from where the letter was sent, was the main headquarters for oversight of all branches of Iraqi intelligence in all the Iraqi embassies in the Arab countries. Furthermore, in the years following the 1991 Gulf War, the Amman bureau acted to assassinate and arrest many members of Iraqi opposition organizations located in Jordan.

Shaikani added that Iraqi opposition elements have in the past accused a number of Arab security apparatuses of collaborating with Iraqi intelligence in the Iraqi regime's efforts at assassinating and persecuting them.


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 17, 2003.

[2] Brackets in original text.

[3] Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Hakim is a top Iraqi Shi'ite leader who heads the pro-Iranian and Shi'ite Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

[4] A reference to the Kurdish attack on Kirkuk on March 21, 1991, which is the new year – No-rouz - celebrated by the Shi'ites and Kurds.

[5] Mujahideen Khalq is a terrorist opposition organization in Iraq, from whose territory it acted against Iran.