LONDON Ñ 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
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
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.