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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Terrorist and Ironist 

But he's our terrorist and ironist. From the New York Times:
Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990's to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.

Dr. Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. Evaluations of the effectiveness of the bombing campaign varied, although the former officials interviewed agreed that it never threatened Saddam Hussein's rule.

No public records of the bombing campaign exist, and the former officials said their recollections were in many cases sketchy, and in some cases contradictory. They could not even recall exactly when it occurred, though the interviews made it clear it was between 1992 and 1995.

The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many civilian casualties. But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former C.I.A. official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then.

One former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was based in the region, Robert Baer, recalled that a bombing during that period "blew up a school bus; schoolchildren were killed." Mr. Baer, a critic of the Iraq war, said he did not recall which resistance group might have set off that bomb.

Other former intelligence officials said Dr. Allawi's organization was the only resistance group involved in bombings and sabotage at that time.

But one former senior intelligence official recalled that "bombs were going off to no great effect."

"I don't recall very much killing of anyone," the official said.

When Dr. Allawi was picked as interim prime minister last week, he said his first priority would be to improve the security situation by stopping bombings and other insurgent attacks in Iraq — an idea several former officials familiar with his past said they found "ironic."

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