Iraq recruits suicide army from neighboring states

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

LONDON Iraq has mobilized thousands of Islamic volunteers from nearby countries for suicide missions in defense of the Saddam Hussein regime..

Iraqi opposition and Western diplomatic sources said the Islamic volunteers were recruited by Iraqi intelligence agents in Jordan and inspired by Al Qaida and its war against the United States. They said the volunteers have been given a range of duties by Iraqi security forces. They include digging trenches in and around Baghdad and filling them with oil to block the path of advancing U.S. troops. So far, about 100 trenches have been reported.

Other volunteers have been trained in suicide operations. The Islamic combatants have also been instructed in how to kidnap U.S. soldiers.

Many of the foreign volunteers are said to have come from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Middle East Newsline reported.

The sources said the volunteers have arrived from a range of Arab countries and Pakistan. The volunteers were wooed by the prospect of killing American soldiers as well as attractive salaries and incentives pledged by the Saddam regime.

"We are talking about thousands of people and they could play a major role in Saddam's defense as the military collapses in the first wave of U.S. bombings," a diplomatic source who is monitoring the Islamic aid to Saddam said.

On Tuesday, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz acknowledged that Saudi nationals might have crossed the border into Jordan and made their way to Iraq to fight against the United States.

"We have no information about this," Prince Nayef said. "At the same time we cannot deny it totally. Saudis travel abroad as they wish and I see no point in their participation [in the Iraqi war]."

The sources said a main training ground is located at the Saad military camp northeast of Baghdad. The training is being given by the Special Security unit, or Amn Khass. The unit is headed by Saddam's son, Qusay, who is responsible for defense of the Baghdad area.

The London-based Al Hayat reported on Tuesday that the Islamic volunteers are also being trained in urban warfare. Al Hayat quoted what it termed reliable Iraqi sources that reported that 130 foreign volunteers have arrived in Saad for training.

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