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Iraq broadcasts truck bomber video confessions

Suspect says took orders from his boss in Syria

Published:

Iraq on Sunday showed a video of a Saddam Hussein loyalist confessing to orchestrating one of two massive truck bombings that killed 95 people and maimed hundreds more in Baghdad four days ago.

Former police chief Wissam Ali Kadhem Ibrahim, who appeared oddly calm for someone accused of taking part in the bloodiest attack of the year in Iraq, said he had orchestrated the bombing together with a leader of a branch of the now outlawed Baath party who was living in Syria.

"I received a call a month ago from my boss in the (Baath) party Sattam Farhan in Syria to do an operation to destabilize the regime," Ibrahim said in the footage, alluding to Saddam's now outlawed political movement.

The 57-year-old suspect said the truck bomb was prepared in Khalis, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad, and that he had called a contact in the nearby town of Muqdadiyah to ensure its safe passage to the capital.

Ibrahim, who said he was a chief of police in Diyala until 1995 under Saddam's rule, said he had worked as a lawyer until 2002 but then became a leading Baathist official in the restive province northeast of Baghdad.

Many Saddam loyalists fled to Syria after the fall of Saddam in 2003, and Iraqi officials frequently blame neighboring countries for fomenting violence in Iraq.

I received a call a month ago from my boss in the party Sattam Farhan in Syria to do an operation to destabilize the regime

Wissam Ali Kadhem Ibrahim

Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi, who showed the video to the media, had previously announced the arrest of a group of Baathists he alleged were responsible for Wednesday's bombings, which devastated the foreign and finance ministries.

His office said on Sunday shortly after the taped confession was aired that every police officer manning checkpoints on the day of the blasts between Baghdad and Diyala province, where the prisoner said the attack was put together, had been arrested.

Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Iraqi Army's Baghdad operations, told reporters that Ibrahim was the main person responsible for the attack at the ministry of finance.

The second truck bombing on Wednesday occurred just minutes later at the ministry of foreign affairs.

Toughening security

Government officials meanwhile told AFP that they had halted the dismantling of blast-proof concrete security walls in Baghdad following last week's devastating attacks.

The decision is a step back from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's plan to remove the walls to show that Iraq's security situation was improving.

The decision to stop dismantling the so-called T-walls was taken shortly after the truck bombings, high-ranking officials from the defense and interior ministries said on condition of anonymity.

The sources did not say whether some of the barriers that have already been taken down would be re-erected in the wake of Wednesday's attacks, the deadliest since U.S. forces pulled out of urban centers at the end of June.

The walls are T-shaped concrete barriers about three meters (10 feet) high and linked with heavy-duty metal cables to protect against explosives.

On Sunday, foreign ministry staff were seen erecting a new line of T-walls and the nearby streets remained closed to traffic.

"We will re-examine our strategy on security matters," Baghdad governor Salah Abdul Razzaq told AFP during a visit near the ministry.

"It is possible we will close certain places to ensure security," he said, adding that the bombers had exploited the Iraqi people's desire to see the concrete barriers removed, ultimately making it easier to conduct the attacks.

Premier Maliki said on Saturday that Iraq had taken "decisive measures to tackle the weak points" exposed by Wednesday's bombings.

We will re-examine our strategy on security matters

Baghdad governor Salah Abdul Razzaq