WASHINGTON – The assassination of a leading Shia cleric who cooperated with the U.S. military in Iraq follows a secret postwar plan by Saddam Hussein to destabilize the U.S. occupation, a former Army intelligence analyst told WorldNetDaily.
A Jan. 23 memo classified Top Secret and found in Iraqi intelligence files orders Saddam’s agents to carry out acts of sabotage in the event of the collapse of his regime. They include infiltrating
mosques and assassinating imams – specifically in the holy city of Najaf, a key religious center for Shia Muslims oppressed by Saddam’s deposed Sunni Muslim regime.
Among other things, the 11-point plan calls for:
- “Mobilizing of dependable elements and bringing them into mosques.”
- “Joining the religious centers in Najaf.”
- “Assassination of imams and preachers of mosques.”
Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim and more than 100 of his followers were killed in last month’s car bomb massacre at the Najaf shrine he led. Not long before his assassination, he had accepted the U.S. occupation and even sent his brother and deputy, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, to serve on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
The secret directive issued before the war by Saddam’s general intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, “is authentic,” asserted ret. Lt. Col. Stephen Franke, a former Army intelligence analyst who served as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s personal Arabic interpreter during the first Gulf war and as a weapons inspector in Iraq after the war.
“I’ve tracked the various Iraqi intelligence security organizations since ’91, and these citations are accurate,” he said in an exclusive WorldNetDaily interview. “They’re very consistent with the government documents I’ve reviewed.”
Franke, who translated the document from Arabic, notes that other orders on the post-invasion sabotage list have been followed in Iraq by Saddam’s loyalists. They include looting and burning government buildings, stockpiling weapons, and destroying water and power installations and other utilities.
“It’s the M.O. of everything that’s going on,” he said.
“It’s very similar to orders Hitler promulgated for homeland defense and followed by the Werewolves – the motley guys who wanted to stick around and form paramilitary cells and put up resistance” after the war, Franke added.
Saddam is said to be a fan of Hitler.
What’s more, U.S. military officials in Iraq say the daily guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces are being carried out chiefly by Sunni militants from the deposed regime. Many reportedly are upset Iraq’s Shiites have cooperated with the U.S. and gained power in the post-Saddam Iraq.
Officials there, including the commander of U.S. Marines in Najaf, say the chief suspects held in connection with the Najaf bombing are all Iraqi nationals. Earlier reports had cited some foreign suspects with possible al-Qaida ties.
An al-Qaida official last week denied any involvement in the attack on the Shia imam and mosque.
Saddam, still at large, also denied any role in the massacre in a tape-recorded message authenticated by the CIA, although Shia mourners in Najaf insist he is to blame.
The Pentagon referred questions about the secret Saddam memo to U.S. Central Command, which did not immediately return phone calls.