December 18, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 630

Assassination Attempt on Editor of Kuwaiti Dailies – Allegations of Syrian Involvement

December 18, 2003
Kuwait, Syria, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 630

On December 12, 2003, booby-trapped letters from Lebanon addressed to Ahmad Al-Jarallah, [1] the Editor-in-Chief of the Kuwaiti dailies Al-Siyassa and Arab Times, exploded in his office, injuring his personal assistant. Al-Jarallah has recently written highly critical editorials of the Syrian government, including accusations that the Syrian secret service is behind the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq (MEMRI has published several of Al-Jarallahs' editorials in the past several weeks). [2] The following is a brief description of the attempt on Al-Jarallah's life, including his reaction, followed by excerpts from his most recent editorials:

The Attack

The Arab Times quoted Al-Jarallah as saying that the letter bomb was sent to him "as a reaction to what he had written about terrorists and extremists in the Arab world." Al-Jarallah, who had survived three earlier assassination attempts, emphasized that the most recent attack would not deter him from his work: "The unflinching struggle on all fronts - local, regional, and international - against terrorism and corruption would continue unabated whatever the price we have to pay for success."

The Arab Times added that Al-Jarallah is "Known for his terse editorials and scathing attacks on those who hijack Islam for 'their selfish objectives,'" noting that markings on the mail package indicate it came from Beirut. Al-Jarallah wrote that, "We know who rules Lebanon. Unfortunately, it is not the Lebanese." [3]

The package to Al-Jarallah was purportedly postmarked from Ghassan Charbel, assistant deputy editor of Al-Hayat, a pan-Arab newspaper based in London which has offices in Beirut. Al-Jarrallah said he did not believe the sender was Charbel. "Whoever did send it meant to deceive us that it was from Charbel." Charbel said that he regretted that his name and Al-Hayat's were used "for such an act." [4]

Deputy Managing Editor of the Arab Times and Al-Siyassa Sulaiman Al-Jarallah said that the two newspapers "will remain sincere to readers and would not be cowed by these incidents. We would not stop publishing the truth on all issues and will allow other views if they are contrary to ours." He said the two newspapers' ideals do not find favor with "certain people" and added that such incidents happen everywhere in the world. [5]

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas has reported that within a day of the bombing of Al-Jarallah's office, three more mail-bombs were discovered by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Communications. One message was addressed to Nasser al-Utaibi, a reporter at Al-Jarallah's newspaper; a second package was addressed to D. Abdullah Al-Sheikh of Al-Qabas; a third one was addressed to the President of the Writer's League, Abdallah Khalaf. All of the packages are reported to have been sent from the same location in Beirut from which the mail-bomb to Al-Jarallah was sent. [6]

Recent Op-Eds by Al-Jarallah:

I. Saddam's Capture: 'The Devil of Iraq and One of the Most Criminal and Evil Creatures in the History of Mankind was Hiding Like a Rat'

On December 15, Al-Jarallah published an editorial celebrating the arrest of Saddam Hussein:

"The devil of Iraq and one of the most criminal and evil creatures in the history of mankind was hiding like a rat when captured from an underground hole. Saddam's capture has proved to the world he is a coward and loves to live. He commanded power and authority by sending innocent people to the battlefields, so that he could claim victories - in the name of sacrifices for the Arab nation and Palestine - by standing over the skulls of fallen Iraqis.

"His capture has proved to the world he is not a brave man. He surrendered meekly without resistance. If he had been a brave man, he would have fought to the end or pulled a trigger to avoid being captured alive instead of surrendering like a coward. His arrest will open a new chapter for the Iraqis... it will establish a new progressive, democratic and unified Iraq for all segments of the people.

"The news of his arrest must have come as a shock to other evil regimes which follow in his footsteps and make the same political miscalculations by reading international facts upside down, not realizing the Cold War has ended, Communism has been toppled, and the Soviet Union has disintegrated. Such regimes massacre their people, bury them in mass graves, detain them in dungeons, invade their neighbors, and loot others' properties.

"The arrest of Saddam Hussein will shock other dictators who must have realized their turn is just around the corner. We have seen happy media-men showing footage giving details of Saddam Hussein's capture. We have seen how Saddam looked when he was captured - his hair crumpled [with an] unkempt long beard, and how he timidly surrendered to a medical checkup.

"We also saw people dancing on the streets of Baghdad to express their joy at the capture of Saddam. The fact is, the surviving dictatorial regimes must see a lesson in this or they will meet the same fate. Some organizations and individuals even boasted of Iraqi resistance movements and expected Saddam Hussein's comeback, saying he was secretly preparing an all-out onslaught, but all these expectations seem to have backfired with the capture of Saddam Hussein.

"The end of Saddam Hussein was imminent because he refused to listen to reason, undermined ideas of others, and always believed he was the only genius with an innovative and creative mind, which ultimately led him to the hole where he was found. Similarly, leaders of other regimes who don't take advice from others, but want others to accept their ideas, call these people traitors, betrayers, supporters of Zionists, imperialists. The amazing fact is these regimes give birth to evil ideas which lead to massacres and killing of innocent people similar to what Saddam did, and which ultimately led him to an undignified end." [7]

II. 'Don't Forget They [the Coalition Forces] have Located Many Mass Graves, Killing Fields, Walls Stained with Human Blood… Need We Say Anymore to Prove this War was Legitimate 100 Percent'

On December 10, Al-Jarallah published an editorial in response to Arab critics of the war in Iraq:

"Some people are still trying to paint the recent war to liberate Iraq as illegitimate. They describe it as an aggression on an Arab country, aimed at removing a 'popular regime.' These people still think President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair led the war to liberate Iraq using the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - said to be in the possession of the former regime of Iraq - as an excuse. They don't tire of pointing out the failure of the United States and Britain to locate any weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, despite ousting Saddam and taking over that whole country. They cite this as evidence to describe the United States and Britain as occupiers of Iraq.

"They have started a terrorist campaign against the United States and Britain in the name of patriotism and resistance. They cheer whenever the coalition forces suffer any casualty. These people, who adopt such a ludicrous ideology, have probably forgotten they have become one among a very few who are demanding the return of Saddam Hussein to strip Iraqis of their new-found freedom and force them back into prison.

"This despite the fact Saddam himself had admitted to using weapons of mass destruction against his own people. We agree the coalition forces have occupied Iraq and yes, they have still to find any weapon of mass destruction. But don't forget they have located many mass graves, killing fields, walls stained with human blood, and millions of people who never tasted freedom or enjoyed any rights in their life. Are these not worse and more dangerous than WMD? What else do these doubting Thomases need to prove this war has liberated the Iraqis, although no WMD have been found so far?

"Maybe they have forgotten Saddam's instructions to 'Chemical Ali' to wipe out the population of Halabja using chemical weapons and the chemical weapons used by him against the Iranian army in Al-Faw. They have also chosen to forget Saddam was prepared to use WMD against the coalition forces when they waged the war to liberate Iraq. What more proof do they want? When the coalition forces launched the war, Saddam was wanted for one crime - possession of WMD. After the war, the whole world has come to know of the countless crimes committed by him, which are many times worse than WMD. Need we say anymore to prove this war was legitimate, one hundred percent." [8]

III. 'Let Us Not Give Illiterate Fundamentalists the Opportunity to be a Hero among Shi'ites and Sunnis'

On December 7, Al-Jarallah wrote an editorial critical of Muslim extremists:

"… Sadly, our history is full of… seditious people. Every now and then a new trouble-maker pops up to create discord among people. Now, their clones are out to create disquiet among Muslims.

"Regardless of the fact, whether such unscrupulous men are Sunni or Shiite, we should remember one important thing: What they say are their personal views and more often than not they have a hidden political agenda. Common people of both sects must keep a cool head and not launch a 'war of statements.' Just as it is able to deal with various problems regarding the security and stability of its society, Kuwait is fully capable of putting out the fire of this war. Let us not give an illiterate fundamentalist the opportunity to be a hero among his group.

"Unfortunately, we always have a group of people who listen to such mischief mongers and believe what they say. Is it a hard proposition for Kuwait to silence one man who is bent on creating fissures in the society? Is it difficult to deal with this man - like we deal with any other law abiding citizen - before somebody pours oil on the fire to worsen the situation?…

"… Using the power of law is the only way do deal with such extremists, whether they are Shiite or Sunni. They represent only themselves and they must be held accountable for their deeds." [9]

[1] Recent MEMRI Dispatches on Ahmad Al-Jarallah include:

Special Dispatch Series - No. 626, December 10, 2003, Editor of Kuwaiti Daily: 'The U.S. is not going to Quit… It will Convert Poles of Jihadi Flags into Arrows to Pierce the Hearts of Terrorists' Editor of Kuwaiti Daily: 'The U.S. is not going to Quit… It will Convert Poles of Jihadi Flags into Arrows to Pierce the Hearts of Terrorists'.

Special Dispatch Series - No. 606, November 10, 2003,

Editor of the Kuwaiti Daily Al-Siyassa: The New Iraq Will Be 'the Beacon of Freedom, Democracy, and Respect to Human Rights in the Middle East'
Editor of the Kuwaiti Daily Al-Siyassa: The New Iraq Will Be 'the Beacon of Freedom, Democracy, and Respect to Human Rights in the Middle East'

[2] Special Dispatch Series - No. 620, December 5, 2003,

Editor of Kuwaiti Daily: Syria's Secret Service is Behind the 'Iraqi Resistance' Editor of Kuwaiti Daily: Syria's Secret Service is Behind the 'Iraqi Resistance'.

[3] Arab Times, December 4, 2003.

[4] Arab Times, December 4, 2003.

[5] Arab Times, December 4, 2003.

[6] Al-Qabas, December 13, 2003.

[7] Arab Times, December 15, 2003.

[8] Arab Times, December 10, 2003.

[9] Arab Times, December 7, 2003.

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