US 'leaked' coup plot to Saddam

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The Independent Online
SENIOR Iraqi officers met United States officials in London in November 1992 to discuss plans for a coup against Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi dissident who attended the meeting said yesterday.

Saad Jabr, of the Free Iraqi Council, in an open letter to Warren Christopher, US Secretary of State, said that after these plans were leaked, hundreds of the conspirators were executed. 'Grave rumours are still circulating in Baghdad . . . that it was the US that leaked the plot to Saddam Hussein.'

According to Mr Jabr, the plotters made clear to US officials that they did not need arms or money, but wanted air cover. 'Subsequently, we were notified that the US was still determined in its opposition to Saddam but that the time was not yet ripe to do something about it.'

Others familiar with the affair say that Mr Jabr is exaggerating to persuade the Americans he is a more suitable focus for attempts to remove President Saddam than the US-backed Iraqi National Congress. Both are based in London.

The key plotters were all said to be Sunni Arabs, like most senior officers in Iraq. The most senior was Jassem Moulid Mukhlis, from President Saddam's home town of Takrit. Another prominent opponent of President Saddam, based in Amman, Sheikh Taleb al-Suhail, also came to London. There they were said to have met low-level CIA operatives.

Amnesty International reported last month that scores of prominent Iraqis had been arrested in August; most were Sunnis from Takrit.