Mossad ‘tried to kill’ Saddam Hussein using ‘exploding book’

Saddam HusseinBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Israeli intelligence tried unsuccessfully to kill Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1970s using a bomb disguised as a book. This revelation is included in a new documentary film, which was aired on Monday evening on Israel’s Channel 1 television. The documentary, entitled Sealed Lips, focuses on the life and intelligence exploits of Yitzhak Hofi. Known informally as “Khaka”, Hofi was the fifth Director of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost covert-action intelligence agency, which he led form 1974 to 1982.  Aside from Hofi, who is still living in Israel, aged 85, the film includes interviews with five other former Directors of the Mossad, as well as with some of the agency’s best-known covert-action operatives. One of them is Brigadier General (ret.) Tzuri Sagi, said to have been the mastermind behind the plan to kill Hussein, who had assumed power in Iraq following a coup in 1968. According to the documentary, as soon as the Mossad tasked Sagi with assassinating Hussein, he employed the best-known bomb-maker in the Israeli intelligence and security services, known by his operational name, “Natan”. “Natan” put together a carefully constructed explosive device, which was hidden inside an Arabic-language book. The device was wired to detonate once the front cover of the book was opened. The film suggests that the Mossad did manage to find a way for the book to reach the Iraqi leader. However, Hussein appeared suspicious about the book and had one of his close aides, an unnamed senior Iraqi government official, open it. Read more of this post

Colin Powell wants answers over fake Iraq intelligence

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi

Alwan al-Janabi

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised by recent news that the Iraqi defector whose information helped build the Bush Administration’s case for invading Iraq in 2003, has admitted he lied about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known in intelligence circles as ‘Curveball’, arrived in Germany in 1999, where he applied for asylum, saying he had been employed as a senior scientist in Iraq’s biological weapons program. Serious doubts about al-Janabi’s reliability were expressed at the time by Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, the BND, and by some in the CIA. Yet his testimony became a major source of US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 2003 speech before the United Nations Security Council, in which he layed out Washington’s case for war. A year later, both the BND and the CIA concluded that al-Janabi had been lying about his alleged biological weapons role, and that he was in reality a taxi driver from Baghdad, who had used his undergraduate knowledge of engineering to fool Western intelligence. Now al-Janabi, who still lives in Germany, has spoken to British newspaper The Guardian, and openly admitted that his story was completely fabricated. He told the paper that he was an “opposition activist” and that he lied to his German and American intelligence handlers in order to help “topple” the regime of Saddam Hussein. Read more of this post

Analysis: Deadly conflict inside Iraqi spy service goes unmentioned



Amidst the chaos of post-Ba’athist Iraqi politics, a deadly sectarian conflict is raging within Iraq’s powerful spy agency. Employees inside Iraq’s National Intelligence Service (INIS) are split along religious sectarian lines, with Sunni and Shiite officers battling for control of the organization. The warring factions are directly affiliated with opposing political parties, and represent various political interests. Shiite officers are seen as aligned with Tehran, whereas Sunnis are close to Washington and –ironically– to the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party. The conflict has resulted in the assassination of several INIS officers, mostly by their colleagues in the Service, according to two anonymous Iraqi security officials, who spoke to The National, an English-language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #362 (sex & politics edition)

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Analysis: Iranian spymaster a major player in Iraq


Qassem Suleimani

Newsweek’s Chris Dickey has penned an accurate analysis on Qassem Suleimani, leader of the mighty Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) unit tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. Relatively little is known about Suleimani, a soft-spoken intelligence operative who oversees Iran’s links with Shiite movements in the Middle East and beyond. His influence inside Iraq has grown in recent years. Although the Quds Force intelligence network in Iraq was solid before the 2003 US invasion, the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime turned Suleimani’s agency to what is probably the most powerful organized intelligence force in the country. Indeed, Suleimani’s links with the Kurdish north and with the Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq is so encompassing that, as Dickey correctly notes, “this 53-year-old Iranian general could pull the strings that make or break the new government in Baghdad”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0227

  • British politicians sue CIA over rendition flights. A group of British members of parliament, led by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, has filed a complaint in a district court in Washington, DC, asking for a judicial review of secret agreements between the US and UK on renditioning terrorism suspects.
  • US DHS broke domestic spying rules. The US Department of Homeland Security gathered intelligence on the Nation of Islam for eight months in 2007, and broke the law by taking longer than 180 days to determine whether the US-based group or its American members posed a terrorist threat.
  • Expert says UK ex-spy chief misled Iraq War probe. Sir John Scarlett, Britain’s former spy chief has misled the Iraq inquiry by exaggerating the reliability of crucial claims about Saddam Hussein’s ability to launch weapons of mass destruction, according to Dr. Brian Jones, the leading UK Ministry of Defense expert who assessed the intelligence behind London’s decision to go to war in 2003.

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Former MI6 head testifies in UK Iraq War commission

Sir John Scarlett

Sir John Scarlett

Sir John Scarlett, who until recently headed MI6, Britain’s foremost external spy agency, chaired the country’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in the run-up to the Iraq War. He was therefore in charge of an influential government report, produced in September 2002, which argued that Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction constituted an immediate threat to Britain. As part of the official inquiry into Britain’s entry in the Iraq War, Sir John testified yesterday about the controversial report, known as ‘the dodgy dossier’, which has been criticized as a monumental intelligence failure that helped drag the country into an unpopular war. The former JIC chairman admitted that British intelligence services were aware before the War that Iraq had dismantled its long-range missiles and thus had no way of shooting its chemical munitions at distant targets, including Britain. Read more of this post