Iraq training terrorists in secret, defectors report : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Iraq training terrorists in secret, defectors report By Chris Hedges The New York Times

November 8, 2001

Two defectors from Iraqi intelligence said on Wednesday they had worked for several years at a secret Iraqi government camp that had trained Islamic terrorists in rotations of five or six months since 1995.

They said the training in the camp, south of Baghdad, was aimed at carrying out attacks against neighboring countries and possibly Europe and the United States.

The defectors, one of whom was a lieutenant general and was once one of the most senior officers in the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, said they did not know if the Islamic militants being trained at the camp, known as Salman Pak, were linked to Osama bin Laden.

They also said they had no knowledge of specific attacks carried out by the militants. But they insisted that those being trained as recently as last year were Islamic radicals from across the Middle East. An interview of the two men was set up by an Iraqi group that seeks the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

The defectors said they knew of a highly guarded compound within the camp where Iraqi scientists produced biological agents.

"There is a lot we do not know," conceded the former general, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We were forbidden to speak about our activities among each other, even off duty. But over the years you see and hear things.

"These Islamic radicals were a scruffy lot. They needed a lot of training, especially physical training. But from speaking with them it was clear they came from a variety of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. The Gulf War never ended for Saddam Hussein. He is at war with the United States. We were repeatedly told this."

The reports mesh with statements by Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami, a captain in the Iraqi army who immigrated to Texas in May after working as an instructor for eight years at Salman Pak, located at a bend in the Tigris River.

The camp is overseen by the highest levels of Iraqi intelligence, and those who worked there were compartmentalized into distinct sections. On one side of the camp, these men said, young Iraqis who were members of Fedayeen Saddam, or Saddam's Fighters, were trained in espionage, assassination and sabotage.

The other side of the camp, separated by a small lake, trees and barbed wire, was where the Islamic militants were trained. The militants spent a great deal of time training on simulated hijackings, usually in groups of five or six, around the fuselage of a Boeing 707.

"We could see them train around the fuselage," said one of the defectors, a former Iraqi sergeant in the intelligence service who spent nearly five years at the camp. "We could see them practice taking over the plane."

-- Martin Thompson (, November 08, 2001


This is the thing that scares me the most. I think bin Laden is only the tip of the terrorist iceberg.

-- Uncle Fred (, November 08, 2001.

I said it yesterday, and I will say it again....Saddam Hussein in the greatest terrorist danger on earth. The above puts real focus on it. This thing about practicing hijackings is particularly menacing.

-- R2D2 (, November 08, 2001.

I think this encampment is a prime candidate to receive one of our 15,000 pound daisey cutter bombs. Blow them all into Allah's domain as quickly as possible. That would probably cut world terrorism real short.

-- RogerT (, November 08, 2001.

The Gulf War never ended for Saddam Hussein? That says it all. Before all is said and done about terrorism, we will have to end the Gulf War for him.

-- QMan (, November 08, 2001.

There is something very fisy sounding about all of this. Hi-jacking an airplane is no easy deal. And the bin Laden boys were very proficient at it. Yet, they had no facilities, by all reports, at which to practice this in Afghanistan. Flight schools here in the U.S. were only attended by 4 or 5 of the 19. Where did the other 14 or 15 come from? Could they have been graduates of Saddam Hussein's Hi-Jack school?

-- Art Esman (, November 08, 2001.

There is only one thing that doesn't make sense, that is a highly guarded compound within the encampment where scientists are working on biological weapons.

By having all of these facilities thrown together in one spot, wouldn't that make it a particularly highly inviting military target.

-- Chance (, November 08, 2001.

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