The man who led Saddam Hussein’s “Army of Muhammad” during 2004 has confessed that Iran is the primary source of funding for his jihadists battling U.S. forces in Iraq.
Col. Muayed Al-Nasseri made the comments on a taped interrogation that was broadcast on an Iraqi television station operating from the United Arab Emirates, Al-Fayhaa TV. The tape was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI-TV. A video clip of the interrogation is available on MEMRI’s website.
Al-Nasseri says the Army of Muhammad was founded by Saddam Hussein after the fall of his regime in April 2003. He claims he is the third commander of the 800-man operation.
“We carried out many armed operations against the coalition forces in all the districts,” Al-Nasseri says on the tape. “The operations included bombarding their military posts, their camps and their bases, fighting these forces and planting explosive devices against their patrols and convoys.”
He says after the fall of the regime, Hussein put out the word for loyalists to join the Army of Muhammad.
“Saddam Hussein distributed a communique via the [Baath Party], back then, instructing all his supporters or whoever wants to fight the jihad for the sake of Allah to join the Army of Muhammad because it is the army of the leadership,” Al-Nasseri said.
The suspect then fingers Iran as the main funding source of the resistance.
“Many factions of the resistance are receiving aid from the neighboring countries,” Al-Nasseri said. “We in the Army of Muhammad – the fighting has been going on for almost two years now, and there must be aid, and this aid came from the neighboring countries. We got aid primarily from Iran. The truth is that Iran has played a significant role in supporting the Army of Muhammad and many factions of the resistance. I have some units, especially in southern Iraq, which receive Iranian aid in the form of arms and equipment.”
He says another resistance group actually traveled to Iran to pick up arms and cash and to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:
“As for other factions of the resistance, I have reliable information regarding the National Islamic resistance, which is one of the factions of resistance, led by Colonel ‘Asi Al Hadithi. He sent a delegation to Iran from among the people of the faction, including General Halaf and General Khdayyer. They were sent to Iran in April or May and met with Iranian intelligence and with a number of Iranian leaders and even with Khamenei.”
Al-Nasseri says they picked up “$1 million dollars and two cars full of weapons. They still have a very close relationship with Iran. They receive money, cars, weapons and many things. According to my information, they even got car bombs.”
The suspect then talks about links to Syria.
“Cooperation with Syria began in October 2003,” he said, “when a Syrian intelligence officer contacted me. S’ad Hamad Hisham and later Saddam Hussein himself authorized me to go to Syria. So I was sent to Syria. I crossed the border illegally. Then I went to Damascus and met with an intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel ‘Abu Naji’, through a mediator called ‘Abu Saud.'”
On the videotape, Al-Nasseri says the Syrian government authorized him to meet with a Baath Party member, Fawzi Al-Rawi, “who is a member of the national leadership and an important figure in Syria.”
Al-Nasseri says Al-Rawi informed him that “the Army of Muhammad would receive material aid in the form of goods, given to us for free or for a very low price, for us to sell in Iraq, in order to support the Army of Muhammad. This was done this way due to Syria’s current circumstances, international pressure and accusations of supporting the terrorism and resistance in Iraq.”