Skip to comments.Missing Iraqi general spirited from Denmark by CIA: paper
Posted on 03/22/2003 9:09:05 AM PST by Oldeconomybuyer
COPENHAGEN, March 22 (AFP) - Former Iraqi army chief Nizar al-Khazraji, who disappeared from his home in Denmark last week, was spirited away by CIA agents and taken to Saudi Arabia, a Danish newspaper said on Saturday.
Khazraji, believed to be the highest ranking officer to have defected from Iraq and touted by US media as a possible successor to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, was reported missing from his address on March 17.
Danish newspaper B.T. said the 64-year-old former general, who has been charged with war crimes for alleged chemical weapon attacks on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s and was under house arrest in Denmark, was useful to US intelligence in their war against Iraq.
The paper said he had detailed knowledge of the Iraqi terrain and military installations and could help plan Us and British attacks against the northern oil city of Kirkuk.
Khazraji headed the Iraqi armed forces during the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He fled to Jordan in 1995 and three years later applied for political asylum in Denmark.
In February last year London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat quoted opposition sources in Syria as saying the US had chosen Khazraji to run Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam.
At the time of his indictment in Denmark last November Khazraji was about to leave the country for Saudi Arabia, which had granted him a visa. He has always denied the charges levelled against him by the Danish authorities.
Khazraji had repeatedly said he wished to go to northern Iraq to participate in overthrowing Saddam's regime.
"I feel like a lion in a cage locked up in Denmark, when my place should be with my people and their soldiers," he said in January.
The Danish police are continuing to hunt for Khazraji and have said that if he is discovered in a foreign country they will ask for his extradition.
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Following the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein sent him to crush a Shiite rebellion in the south in 1991. Al-Khazraji was wounded, captured and treated by the rebels, who later released him. Many believe Saddam suspected that the rebels spared the general because he had spoken out against the regime, and that al-Khazraji lived in fear until he was able to leave Iraq in 1995.
Al-Khazraji says he left because he had enough of Saddam's dictatorship, and has outlined plans for regime change under which the army would take over temporarily until a new government can be elected. (AP Photo/Scanpix, Kristian Linnemann)