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Al-Baghdadi’s Confession: Funding from Saudi Arabian, Egyptian and Syrian Groups | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Only a week after the Al Qaeda organization denied that its leader in Iraq Abu Omar al-Baghdadi had been captured; the Iraqi authorities yesterday released a video confession of a detainee who claimed to be al-Baghdadi. This confession included the detainee admitting that he received financing from internal and external sources, and that the last funds that he had received had been from Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, and Syrian groups.

The US forces in Iraq would neither confirm nor deny the identity of this controversial detainee, but did stress that the arrest was a sole Iraqi operation.

The Iraqi government has confirmed on more than one occasion that the detainee who was captured last month is indeed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. A number of parties have questioned his identity, and others have asserted that al-Baghdadi is an invented figure.

Al-Baghdadi is the nom de guerre of the figure said to be the founded of the Islamic State of Iraq which is an umbrella organization of Sunni organizations involved in the Iraqi insurgency. However some parties question Al-Baghdadi’s very existence, believing him to be a figure invented by Al Qaeda to confuse the Iraqi authorities.

In the video tape which the Iraqi government issued during a press conference, al- Baghdadi said that “I was born in 1969 and I’m from Diyala [province]. I joined Al-Qaeda in 2005 and I formed the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006.”

The detainee went on to say “I named myself Abu Omar al-Baghdadi al-Husseini because the name Abu Omar represents the Sunnis and al-Baghdadi is the centre of Iraq and al-Husseini represents all of the people.”

In response to questions on how he was being financed, al-Baghdadi said “The financing sources are external and internal. The external sources are from some associations based in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as some people who bring money to Iraq. There are also internal sources derived from theft, extortion, and stolen from the salaries of employees.”

As to the relationship between Al Qaeda and the Baath party, he said “the relationship is unified, and external instructions for the Baath and Al Qaeda arrive together, and there are people connected to the Baath party who coordinate this.” Al-Baghdadi also pointed to the existence of ties between Al Qaeda, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the outlawed Baath party, and other groups.

Al-Baghdadi claimed responsibility for the February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samara saying “There is an important person in Al Qaeda…who informed me saying ‘I met with Al Zarqawi, and he explained that he wanted to produce a special atmosphere to lead to fighting between the Sunnis and Shiites.’ This was in order to split the Shiites from the Sunni so as to form the nucleus of the Islamic State of Iraq.” Al-Baghdadi added that “The goal was to cause sedition and make the Sunnis and Shiites fight” however he stressed that this was “planned externally, I knew about it, and was one of the pillars [in its implementation].”

Regarding the administration of the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Baghdadi said that “the Cabinet is comprised by region. Each region has its own ministers, and each minister has his own speciality.”

Last week the “Islamic State of Iraq” which is a coalition of groups led by Al Qaeda, denied that their “emir” al-Baghdadi had been captured, as did the American SITE intelligence group.

For his part Major General Qasim Atta, the spokesman for Operation Imposing Law who appeared in the confession tape with al-Baghdadi informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the arrest of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi that took place on 23 April and took place against the backdrop of intelligence information. He was tracked to a location in the Al Rasafa area [of Baghdad], this arrest operation was not [as a result of] luck.”

Major General Atta stressed that the investigation following his arrest had resulted in information about al-Baghdadi and the organization that he belongs to. Atta stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the questions that were being asked in the media had been answered by the investigation into al-Baghdadi.

Salam Said, the spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq who was present at the press conference in his official capacity informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “al-Baghdadi revealed this information in a normal manner, there was no operation to compel him to reveal this information.” Said also denied that “US forces played any role in this investigation, nor did they participate in the arrest.”

Salam Said informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the operation was carried out by Iraqi forces. It was a 100 percent Iraqi operation, as was the investigation.” He also stressed that “the US forces have yet to meet with al-Baghdadi” but indicated that the release of this tape will go a long way to answering many of the questions surrounding his arrest.

With regards to the groups that al-Baghdadi mentioned in his confession, Said revealed that “these are charitable organizations that have become embroiled in these financing operations using this as a cover”

In reaction to al-Baghdadi’s comments the Iraqi Islamic party that is led by vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi condemned the statement about the party’s alleged connection to Al Qaeda.

In a statement by Tariq al-Hashimi yesterday the party described this confession as “a fabrication….by the man claiming to be Abu Omar al-Baghdadi whose very existence is uncertain, and there is contradiction between statements issued by the Iraqi government and the US forces. This is an attempt to tarnish the Iraqi Islamic party with falsified accusations in order to defame [the party] and obstruct its bright national development.”