February 9, 2003


Kurdish Political Leader Killed in Iraq (BORZOU DARAGAHI, 2/09/03, Associated Press)
Gunmen posing as defectors from an Islamic extremist group killed a political leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and two other Kurdish officials, a party commander said Sunday.

The commander blamed the Ansar al-Islam organization for the Saturday night attack on Gen. Shawkat Haji Mushir, a member of the political leadership of the party, which controls the eastern section of the Kurdish autonomous region of northeast Iraq.

Sheik Jaffar Mustafa, party military commander of the town of Halabja, said the three attackers also killed Hekmat Osman, security chief of the Sirwan district, and Sardar Qafoor, military commander of Sirwan district. Three civilians - a man, a woman and a child - were also killed.

Mohamad Tawfiq, security chief of Halabja, was seriously injured, and six civilians and three other Kurdish soldiers also were hurt, he said.

Ansar al-Islam, which the PUK says has ties to the al-Qaida network, was singled out by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as a terrorist-linked organization during his appearance before the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.

Recall that just before the 9-11 attack al Qaeda murdered the legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud, who led the resistance to the Taliban and would have been the natural leader of a post-Taliban Afghanistan. This was the payoff to Osama's hosts for their protection.

How far-fetched is the supposition that this assassination is a pay off to Saddam? And/or, more frightening, a "passive" signal to operatives abroad to launch a new 9-11 style attack?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 9, 2003 9:29 AM

I doubt they keep books so closely . . . I think Al Qaeda knows that Saddam's fall would be a devastating blow to the terror movement, and are allied with him and working to prevent it. I think the terror has been muted since 9/11 in order to help give Saddam a chance of survival, but we will get everything they have to give once war starts. I'm hoping that's not much . . .

Posted by: pj at February 9, 2003 1:55 PM

Probably, two birds with one stone. For their own account, they want to dissuade leaders from treating with the west.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 9, 2003 3:26 PM