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How Iraqis misled U.S. General Casey?

Religious parties who dominated the scene in Iraq after Saddam sought under the excuse of “fighting terrorism.”

Published: Updated:

Religious parties who dominated the scene in Iraq after toppling the former regime of Saddam Hussein sought vengeance against military personnel and civilians who were under the umbrella of the dissolved Baath Party.

They sought vengeance against them by either keeping them away from leadership posts or by killing them under the excuse of “fighting terrorism.”

These are some of the details which Major General Ghazi Azeeza, former Director of Joint Operations in Iraq, revealed to Al-Arabiya show “Political Memoirs” which Taher Barake presents every Friday on Al Arabiya.

Azeeza addressed “lists of terrorists” which some religious parties submitted to American intelligence and Iraqi security apparatuses. These lists contained names of people who allegedly had a role to play in “terrorist” operations.

Azeeza explained to Al Arabiya the details of a preparatory attack against “terrorists” in north Babel. The meeting was held in the presence of senior coalition commander in Iraq General George Casey and high-ranking Iraqi security officials.

The meeting explained the plan of the attack for the purpose of launching it in the next morning.

“I didn’t know which names were on the lists as they hadn’t shared them with me before. However, I was shocked when I read the names as I knew most of them. Most of the names were of former officers in the Iraqi army, officials at governmental departments and ministries. Some were holders of Master’s Degree and PhD. It’s true that most of them were Baathists but they are not terrorists as they were mere civilian members in the Baath Party.”

“General Casey asked those present about their opinion and when it was my turn to speak, I told him that there’s someone who’s more dangerous than those terrorists on the list and that this person must be eliminated before eliminating these (terrorists) and is (actually) present among us right now. General Casey then stood up and asked: ‘Who is he?’ I said: ‘(It’s) me’.” Azeeza said.

Following this reaction, “Casey sat down and I continued to speak. I told him: ‘I have the same characteristics as those people whose names are on the list. I am a patriotic person. I’ve worked with the former regime in the army, and I (was) Baathist but my hands are not stained with blood. The difference is that I had the chance to work in (governmental) offices (later) but the others didn’t have this chance.”

According to Azeeza, his statements pushed General Casey to ask those present how true his statements were, and after most of them said they were, General Casey then ordered aborting the operation and ordered that the case file of any future operations be signed by Azeeza.

Azeeza also addressed the fatwas (religious edicts) of some Sunni clerics in Iraq and which prohibited joining security forces and the ministry of defense and taking military or civilian jobs there amidst the presence of “American occupation.” He said these fatwas negatively affected the participation of Iraqi society components in the military forces.