Mole reveals Saddam plots against Iran
By Marie Colvin
The Sunday Times
December 10, 2000
A RECENT defector from the Iraqi intelligence service has revealed that
Saddam Hussein has stepped up operations against Iran, despite public diplomatic
The defector, who worked in the Iranian office of the mukhabarat (intelligence)
headquarters in Baghdad, portrayed a Saddam unchastened by his 1991 defeat
in the Gulf war, still plotting against his neighbours and able to import
substantial weaponry despite an international embargo.
Saddam's increased efforts to undermine Tehran include extra support
for the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq.
With Iraqi training and a supply of arms and explosives, the group has
mounted a growing number of operations inside Iran.
The defector said Saddam had ordered Iraqi intelligence to encourage
the Mujaheddin-e Khalq to attack armed forces and assassinate officials.
Last Sunday the group shelled Mehran, a southern city, and in October mortar-attacked
buildings in central Tehran two days running. One of the targets was the
headquarters of the elite Republican Guards.
According to the defector, Saddam has also begun supporting other opposition
groups among restive minorities in Iran, where most of the population is
Persian and adheres to the Shi'ite branch of Islam.
Iraqi intelligence has been ordered to give weapons and other support
to Sunni Arabs in Baluchistan, Iranian Kurds, Turkomans in the desert north
of Tehran and Arab Shi'ites in Ahvaz, near Iraq's border in the south.
The Iraqi support for these other groups, the defector said, was not
just to undermine the regime in Tehran but to dilute the strength of the
Mujaheddin-e Khalq, the very group Saddam purports to back.
"Saddam's ultimate goal is to take back the Shatt al Arab,"
the defector said, referring to the waterway that gave Saddam an outlet
on the Gulf.
Outwardly Saddam has pretended to be seeking peace with Iran. In October
Kamal Kharazi became the first Iranian foreign minister to visit Baghdad
in 10 years. But behind the scenes there is no rapprochement. "We
were told, 'Ignore what you see in politics,' " the defector said.
Iraq has increased the number of intelligence officers at its embassies
in Karachi, Islamabad and Ankara as part of the campaign against Iran.
Iraq was supposed to destroy its weapons of mass destruction after the
Gulf war. However, the defector said, the mukhabarat had unlimited access
to weapons needed for an assassination and guerrilla campaign in Iran:
pistols with silencers, machine pistols, sniper rifles of low calibre,
detonators with timing mechanisms and poison that could kill with one tablet.
While at the end of the war in 1991 the army had only 200,000 guns,
it was now completely re-equipped with many times that number, he said.