Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – The leader of the Iraqiya bloc Iyad Allawi confirmed the report published by Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday of the existence of plans “ready to be implemented” to assassinate him after receiving warnings from the multinational force, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, and a number of regional countries. He also revealed that the Iraqi government did not take any action to protect him or inform him of the intelligence in its possession on the threat to his life.
At a human rights convention being held at the Iraqiya headquarters in central Baghdad, Allawi revealed that two months prior to the elections he received “two messages from the multinational forces, followed by a message from the Iraqi Minister of Defense, in addition to [messages] from friendly and brotherly countries, that there was an attempt to assassinate me by placing a bomb in my private car.”
Allawi said that he would have expected to be informed of such a threat from Iraqi officials and the Iraqi governments, rather than the US forces, and he confirmed that the Iraqi government did not take any action to protect him, and in fact banned him from using a military air base in line with special privileges granted to him. Allawi said that seven figures have been given special privileges to use this military air base, and these figures are the Iraq president, the [two] vice presidents, the prime minister, the parliamentary speaker, the former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and himself in his position as a former minister.
He said that he was surprised when two days ago his private airplane was not granted permission to land by the Iraqi government at Al Muthanna military air base for “unknown reasons.” Allawi added that the multinational forces intervened and allowed him his private plane – which was carrying him – to land at Al Muthanna air base.
Allawi also claimed that the decision to ban civilian planes from taking-off or landing at the Al Muthanna air base was intended to put political pressure on the Iraqiya bloc and its leader and force him to make a number of political concessions.
Iraqi security sources also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat what they described as “details of a new plan to assassinate Iyad Allawi” saying that this plot was “ready to be implemented” and became known to “pro-Allawi security, military, and governmental apparatus.”
The security sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the plan to assassinate Allawi “starts with preventing any civilian airplane carrying Allawi from taking off or landing at Al Muthanna military air base…forcing him to use Baghdad International Airport.” The sources added that this assassination would take place on Allawi’s next flight whether this was an internal or external flight, and that the assassination plot involved “a sniper armed with a silenced rifle.”
The Iraqi Prime Minister’s office issued a clarification following the Asharq Al-Awsat report that revealed the presence of a plot to assassinate Allawi at Baghdad International airport, saying that “the decision to ban civilian planes from landing at the [Al Muthanna] military base took place after information was received that civilian private airplanes were landing at the military base and their passengers were disembarking without passing through the official and sovereign procedures that take place in all airports in the world, therefore a decision was taken to ban all such airplanes from landing at military air bases, requiring that all such private airplanes without exception land at civilian airports…and that their passengers follow the same procedures that are followed in all airports around the world.”
This official clarification went on to say that “the security services provide protection to all figures without exception” and that “it is up to these parties to provide the information they possess to the competent authorities before speaking about this in the media so that the necessary action…can be taken.”
For his part, Deputy Interior Minister for Intelligence Affairs Major General Hussein Kamal confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “intelligence information about assassination attempts is coordinated with the concerned figure, and the security services intensify the security protection surrounding this individual.”
Major General Kamal also confirmed that he has not received any information about an assassination attempt on Iyad Allawi other than what has been reported in the media, and he clarified that “airport security is part of state security, and it is coordinated at the highest levels.”
For his part, a senior security source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the decision to ban civilian flights to and from the Al Muthanna military air base took place after intelligence information was received about attempts to target some holy shrines, around two months ago. There was talk about targeting the dome of the Imam Ali mosque in the city of Najaf, which would utilize the Najaf [military] airport, and at the time guidance was issued that only military aircraft would be allowed to use the Baghdad military air base.”
As for the possibility of Allawi being targeted during the flight, or at the airport, the senior security source said that “Iyad Allawi is a prominent figure, and the operation to target this Iraqi politician took place three months ago, and Allawi was informed of this.” The source refused to disclose any information about this assassination plot such as its location, although he did reveal that “an entire battalion of the army is charged with protecting Allawi.”
The senior security source also refused to disclose whether any of the other seven figures granted special privileges to use the military bases had their privileges revoked or whether Allawi was alone in this. He also refused to comment on why this decision not to allow civilian aircraft to use the military air base was taken two months ago, or other details behind this decision.
At the same time, Major General Qasim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command confirmed that the Iraqi army in Baghdad is prepared to coordinate with Allawi’s security force and provide the Iraqiya bloc leaders with the necessary protection, in the same manner that it is prepared to do this for any public figure. Major General Atta pointed out that Al Qaeda has previously targeted Iraqi public figures, and that the Baghdad Operations Command issued instructions for senior Iraqi figures on how to avoid assassinations, such as by utilizing different cars and taking different routes to reach destinations. Major General Atta stressed Baghdad Operational Command’s readiness to secure the area where Allawi is.