Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat-Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a member of the United Iraqi Alliance coalition, and a leader in the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was recently subject to an assassination attempt by a member of his own security protection team.
Al-Saghir informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Prime Minister al-Maliki had confirmed to him that he had been subject to an assassination attempt by a member of his security protection detail. Al-Saghir added that “the Prime Minister spoke of this failed assassination attempt a few months ago” and that “it is an ordinary issue for security breaches to occur in these institutions.”
Al-Saghir denied that the guard that carried out this assassination attempt was a relative of al-Maliki’s, saying “the attempt was not carried out by one of his [al-Maliki’s] relatives, and this individual was arrested.” The New York Times also quoted the Friday sermon issued by Jalal al-Din al-Saghir last week at the Buratha mosque in which he said that one of al-Maliki’s guards had attempted to assassinate the Iraqi Prime Minister.
However those close to al-Maliki have denied any knowledge of a failed assassination attempt, and in a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Iraqi National Security Adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, refused to comment on this report.
In general, Iraqi officials appoint family members and trusted acquaintances to their security protection details. Abdul Hadi al-Hassani, who is a deputy in the United Iraqi Alliance coalition that includes al-Maliki’s Dawa party, said that the military and security in Iraq witnessed a change in 2003 “after US Administrator of Iraq [Paul] Bremer’s administration dissolved the army and police force, the basic regulations of most security institutions changed, especially with regards what is known as special protection of officials. This began to primarily depend upon personal acquaintance with the official, as the official takes into account that his protection detail should be comprised of people that he trusts implicitly.”
Al-Hassani added to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the quick process of restructuring the army and police force led to the entry of many elements without knowledge of their personal backgrounds or affiliation.”
Al-Hassani also pointed out that “in the recent period many of those who were affiliated to these organs have been expelled due to the lack of knowledge about their security background, as well as due to the lack of a professional standard in being members of such organs, not to mention many parties putting their members into the protection service, according to unsubstantiated reports.”
Al Hassani also stressed that “the Prime Minister is not immune to assassination attempts, especially since subversive elements are in place. This is because we as a country have not yet reached the stage where we can prevent crime before it takes place.” He added “I believe we need to take large steps to advance in this area, by seeking to establish a counter terror system that will aid due to its possession of modern equipment and trained cadres to deal with such subversive attempts at harming the state of Iraq.”
The Interior Ministry announced a short while ago the existence of 128,000 security cadres registered to the Ministry who specialize in protecting officials and public figures across the country. Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf confirmed that this personal protection program determines the number of protection personnel assigned to each official according to his rank and title. He added that the 128,000 cadres are assigned to protect approximately 12,500 governmental locations and institutions across the country. General Khalaf confirmed that special protection costs the state a lot of money and that according to Interior Ministry instructions 30 security personnel are allocated to protect each minister, 20 to protect a deputy minister, 8 to protect a government adviser, and 5 personnel to guard employees with a rank of department head, and the same number to members of the provincial council.
Khalaf added that this special protection service is offered to members of the state, with the exception of members of parliament, and officials in the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense. Khalaf also revealed that members of these security details receive a monthly salary of around $500, subject to age and qualification.