"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Aras Karim - Two pages from the notebook

Stirling Newberry writes for BopNews and is an advisor to the Jim Newberry campaign. The opinions expressed here are his own.

The arrest warrant in Baghdad for "Aras Karim Habib" would seem to deflect blame from Chalabi and Wolfowitz for spying for Iraq. Cockburn claims that he was recruited to run military and security in 1992 by Chalabi. This claim is contradicted by pre-war sources which state unequivocally that he was working for the PDK, not Chalabi, and was working on the attempt to create a broadcasting system called the IBS. He later throws his lot in with the INC during the 1995 coup, but is not, by his own admission, in charge of operations. He flees to London, but the US regards him as an agent of Iran, and will not even process people who are suspected as having times. He remains in London until 2001, when the new Executive Branch chooses him to do security for the overthrow of Saddam in March of that year.
He is then selected to run the IPC, again starting in 2001, which was to sort through Saddam's files. It is the belief that he actively continued to inform the Iranians that caused the US to pull the plug on funding Chalabi. This information directly contradicts Cockburn's widely circulated claim that he was Chalabi's security chief since 1992. On the contrary, he was first with the PDK, and he was "the point man" for the group. According to his accounts he converted to Shia in Iran - it is this that made him labelled as a suspect Iranian asset.
More below.
This dates from around the time he was selected to work on Saddam's overthrow
Interview of the week: Aras Kareem by Eli Lake
WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- As the Bush administration reviews its Iraqpolicy, one still unresolved question is whether the United States willfully support the Iraqi National Congress, the main resistance organization.In the decade since the Gulf War, U.S. intelligence support for Iraqiopposition groups has dwindled. Aras Kareem is hoping for enough support tomake the INC a real threat to Saddam Hussein.
Kareem is the INC's chief of operations, and one of the last INC members toleave Iraq after Saddam Hussein's troops seized the group's base ofoperations on Aug. 31, 1996. He taught himself counter-intelligencetechniques by reading books about the CIA. In the early 1990s, he was one ofthe greatest assets for U.S. intelligence in Iraq when Washington prosecuteda more robust campaign to remove Saddam from power. Today, he lives inLondon and is still a target for Saddam's assassins. His cousin, Dr. AliKarem, was detained in a California immigration jail because of hisconnection, after the underground leader had protested the CIA's decision topull back support for the INC.
Recently, he has been meeting with Pentagon officials on training matters.Kareem was in Washington on Feb. 21, when he spoke with UPI.
Q. What is your background?
A. My father was the secretary general of the Kurdistan Democratic Partyfrom 1966 to 1975. He has remained in the leadership since then. He wasnominated to be the vice president of Iraq from 1970 to 1974. But thisdidn't happen, there was fighting.
After the Kurdish revolution collapsed in 1975, we went to Iran. From Iranwe went to Lebanon and then Egypt, and then we went back to Iraq. When Iwent back to Iraq, because my father was a senior figure, I went to aprimary school where the principal was Saddam's first wife, Sajeda. She gaveme an exam for primary school, where her own sons and daughters were withus. Later on I scored very high marks in high school and it allowed me to goto engineering college. The civil engineering department at the Universityof Baghdad is considered an elite college, so all the senior figures in thegovernment send their sons and daughters there. My classmates included theson of (Deputy Prime Minister) Tariq Aziz Ziad. He is not such a bad guy.Saddam's son Uday was also there.
I trained as a civil engineer, and in 1992 joined the INC. At that time weestablished something called the IBC, the Iraqi Broadcasting Corporation. Webroadcast news from all over Iraq, including the areas outside Saddam'scontrol. Later, we did a lot to recruit people, Iraqis in the army, evenofficers working in the Iraqi intelligence.
Q: You went to primary school and technical college with Uday Hussein andthe children of other prominent Iraqis. How did this help you make contactslater on when you were working against the government for the INC?
A: I knew a lot of people whose fathers are in the government, so I found itvery easy to just talk to them and get whatever I wanted from them becausethey were friends. I would go to the Hunting Club where Uday would goalways.
You are not doing something suspicious to get information. A lot of them,they like you. I have many contacts who used to work for the Iraqi specialsecurity organization. They are my friends and they are helping me because Iam their friend, not because they are my agents. If you know those people,life in Iraq is easier. For example, I was out of the army during the GulfWar because I had the right papers. If you have the right papers in Iraq,you can do anything.
Q: What was the recruiting process?
A: We used to broadcast from the north to the areas under Saddam's control,and encourage officers and soldiers to desert their units and come and joinus in northern Iraq. When officers would join the INC they would send fortheir families. I must say we were very successful in attracting even verysenior officials in the regime to the northern zone.
Q: Who did you recruit?
A: I'll give you examples. For example, in 1994 one of the officers workingfor us in the Iraqi military intelligence sent us a message saying Iraqplanned a military buildup for another attempt to invade Kuwait. That was in1994. On the same day, another officer who worked in the headquarters of thearmy 5th corps sent us another message saying they had been ordered to theKuwaiti border. So we put this out to the news, and the Pentagon at firstdenied it. Twelve hours later, the Pentagon sent about 30,000 troops toKuwait.
U.S. intelligence wanted a copy of the Salahuddin, an encryption device madein Iraq that could be attached to the military radio communications system.The device had a range of more than 124 miles. We provided them with some ofthe units -- actually they asked us just for the motherboard. In less than aweek we had given them four of these units. We got the device from theRepublican Guard. We had sympathizers in the Iraqi Republican Guard. Theactual units are very small.
Q: Can you give other examples of how you were able to help U.S.intelligence?
A: The CIA requested any information about the coaxial telephone andtelevision cable linking Iraqi's main cities. We were able to bring them twoparts of the cable. It's a metal cable, it is very fat and it isunderground. A week later we brought them the physical cable. After anotherweek we brought them the whole contract for the cables containing all thedetails.
Q: You were one of the last INC leaders in Iraq when Saddam attacked yourbase of operations in Irbil on Aug. 31, 1996. Can you tell me about whathappened that day?
A: The attack happened at 4:50 AM in the morning. While it was going on Igave interviews about the battle to reporters on a satellite phone. Every 20or 30 minutes I used to give two or three interviews. I remember the lastinterview was with an Arabic magazine. He phoned and at the same time one ofmy bodyguards said "(The Iraqi army) are very close, we have to withdraw toanother headquarters. We have 10 minutes." So I told this guy I cannot doit. There were huge shellings. The house was on the corner. The RepublicanGuard's tanks were close by on the main street, and there was a crowdshouting how they loved Saddam and how they were ready to kill themselvesfor Saddam. They were shooting like crazy. The Kurdish forces allied withSaddam were closing in from the other side. I was talking on the phone, Isaid: 'I don't know if I will be alive or not, so just goodbye. If I don'tcall you again, that's it, I'm done.'
We changed houses again, taking the back streets to another house. We weresix senior figures from the INC. I went to my friend's house and made somearrangements. The Iraqis began to surround the areas from the street andsearch house by house. In front of the house where I was hiding in there wasa minibus. The army thought we were hiding in that bus, so they began toshoot at it with machine guns. But apparently nobody was there.
A soldier entered the hall of the house. I was just behind the door. Thesoldier went inside the house, and I had a pistol. I was standing behind thedoor in the house and I thought I will kill him and then I will kill myself.
Q: Why would you have to kill yourself?
A: If they would capture me it would be a disaster for many people. I know alot, I know a lot of people inside Iraq, a lot of officers working with theINC. They would torture me and force me to say things I do not want to say.That was a decision we took, the six main senior people, before we arecaptured we will kill ourselves.
There were two ladies with a baby girl just two days old in the house. Sothose two ladies went to the people outside and told them, 'We are here, weare only ladies in this house.' They spoke in the same accent as the Kurdishpeoples allied with Saddam. While they were talking to them a soldierentered. The head of the force told the soldier, 'There is no one in thehouse.' The soldier said, 'No, we have information that they are in thishouse.' The commander said, 'I am ordering you to get out of the house. Thishouse is for our people.' So the soldier left. And here I was behind thedoor, waiting for him.
Q: What kind of activities do you envision in the future for the INC andwhat resources will you need from the American government?
A: In my opinion, if we are able to send information teams, we can send themtomorrow. If the United States offers us combat training that is wonderful.If not, how can we do it? Everybody knows how to shoot, but how to organizethe shooting is another story.
Q: What about these conversations you are having with the Pentagon?
A: We are having conversations with the Defense Security CooperationAgency, which provides training for different countries all around theworld. We have sent more than 133 trainees to the United States. We werediscussing what the INC will need, plus training issues, uniforms, that kindof stuff.
Q: Can you talk about Saddam's son, Uday Hussein?
A: Uday is a nut, he is a crazy guy. He will drive in a new Mercedes --with a new registration number. The next day he will drive another new carwith a new number. One day he came to the university with a rifle on hisshoulder and entered the class. When he raised his hand in class, theteacher and the professor will say, 'yes my master.' Uday is the student,can you imagine that. Uday will decide what is the appropriate time for theexam and how long it will last, and the examiners will give him thequestions and the answers. It is up to him what to write, but he will getthe full degree. In the history of the college of engineering, nobody scored98.9 as an average. Even Einstein if he came to the College of Engineeringwould not score that. But Uday scored 98.9. If Uday talks to a lady, nobodyshould talk to her later on because the body guards will beat you. If Udaygoes to a club or a hotel, nobody should park their car near his. If adaughter or son of a minister parks his car near Uday's car, they will beathim.
To put a point on it - he joined the PDK which was part of the INC at the time.
This link from 2001 provides some further pieces of interesting information.
Clinton washed his hands of the INC in 1996.
Karim was known to be an Iraqi agent from day one by the Bush Executive.
Karim was working propaganda in 1992, not security and military ops.
Karim could well have information on what the real state of anti-Iraq planning was pre-911, as he had direct pentagon meetings.
Posted by Stirling Newberry @ 05/23/2004 06:29 PM

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Milton Frihetsson, 18:54


Post a Comment