From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
Moment of Truth
New York Sun Editorial
June 29, 2007
The double murder of the two sons of a freedom-loving Iraqi
parliamentarian is presenting President Bush with a moment of truth.
It involves Mithal al Alusi, an Iraqi parliamentarian who has fought
for a just war against our terrorist enemies, regardless of their
confessional stripe. He has helped prosecute the worst of Saddam’s
henchmen, he has publicly refused to take the lucre of Iran’s
ambassador, and he has long since decided he would not hide the fact
from the Arab and American press that he attended a counter-terrorism
conference in Israel.
Mr. al-Alusi has paid a price for his principles. On February 8, 2005,
assassins out for him murdered his two sons, Ayman and Jamal. Mr. al-
Alusi abjured doing what almost any other Iraqi politician would have
done – namely, seek the killer and exact revenge. Mr. al-Alusi put his
faith in Iraq’s fragile justice system. There are now confidential
witnesses, including testimony from some of the men involved in the
killing, that implicate Iraq’s minister of culture, As’ad Kemal al-
Hashemi, as the individual who ordered and financed the murder.
On Monday, an Iraqi justice signed the warrant for Mr. al-Hashemi’s
arrest, and American GIs, on orders of General Petraeus, began to
accompany the Iraqi national police to his home in Baghdad. Then, as
our Eli Lake reported exclusively, General Petraeus’s order was
overturned in Washington, and the Iraqi police found themselves
outgunned at the home of the culture minister. Mr. al-Hashemi then
fled to the fortified international zone in the center of Baghdad,
where he is holed up at the al-Rashid Hotel, a compound guarded by
military contractors who report to America.
The contractors refused to let the police enter the hotel. So Mr. al-
Alusi pleaded with our embassy in Baghdad to order them to let the
police do their job. He was told by the embassy of the country that
controls the roads and checkpoints of the international zone, that
they would not interfere, that this was an “Iraqi affair.” Nonsense.
The evidence points to the fact that our policy makers are interfering
in the direction of letting this wanted man go. The head of Mr. al-
Hashemi’s Sunni political bloc, Adnan al-Dulaimi, says a deal is being
worked out now to allow Mr. al-Hashemi leave Iraq without facing his
The logic – if that’s the word – of such a deal would be that in the
poisoned factional politics of Iraq, an arrest would look like a
Shiite judge pressing a purge of a Sunni politician. The abstract
“Sunnis” would thus be spared humiliation. Mr. al-Alusi has told our
Eli Lake that he will send Mr. Bush a letter making an appeal to
countermand the decision of Ambassador Crocker not to intervene. Mr.
al-Alusi said that he met with Mr. Bush at a conference of Arab
liberal democrats on June 5 in Prague, where the president asked about
his wife in light of the murder of their sons.
All eyes will be on the president here. It is a moment for him to back
up his noble statements with action, by ordering his diplomats and
military officers to let the Iraqi police apprehend Mr. al-Hashemi. No
doubt it will be controversial – and even ignite another round of
violence. But democracies aren’t born without labor, and legal systems
gain credibility only by breasting controversy. Justice is blind for a
reason. A failure here will have worse consequences than any short-
Appeal to Bush Pressed by Alusi Over the Murder of His Two Sons
By ELI LAKE
Staff Reporter of the Sun
June 29, 2007
WASHINGTON – Iraqi lawmaker Mithal al-Alusi, fearing a deal may be
worked out to let the accused killer of his sons flee the country, is
appealing to President Bush to order his diplomats to assist in the
wanted man’s capture.
Mr. Alusi said yesterday that he will hand deliver a letter addressed
to Mr. Bush today at the American Embassy in Baghdad, making the case
to the commander in chief to order his ambassador in Iraq to help. The
ambassador could tell security contractors at the gate of al-Rashid
Hotel to allow the Baghdad police to enter the grounds and arrest the
wanted man, the Iraqi minister of culture, As’ad Kamal al-Hashemi.
“All of us, we are suffering and waiting for you to stop your
employees in Baghdad and outside Baghdad and tell them they have no
right to be involved in Iraqi law,” Mr. Alusi said his letter will
Mr. Alusi met with President Bush on June 5, 2007, at a conference in
Prague devoted to democracy and national security. Mr. Alusi said that
at the event, Mr. Bush asked how his wife was handling the murder of
his two sons, Ayman and Jamal.
The American Embassy in Baghdad yesterday released a statement denying
any involvement in the standoff at al-Rashid Hotel. “In response to
reports and allegations involving the warrant for the arrest of
Minister of Culture al-Hashemi, the United States Embassy has not been
involved or intervened in the situation. The United States has not
taken a position on the matter. This issue is for the Government of
Iraq to resolve in accordance with the rule of law,” it said.
An embassy spokesman yesterday also made clear by e-mail that
Ambassador Ryan Crocker has no control over the security arrangements
of al-Rashid Hotel.
Mr. Alusi disputed this view. “The Americans control everything in the
Green Zone. They can shut it down and they can open it up,” he said.
Mr. Alusi yesterday held a press conference airing his criticisms,
first reported by The New York Sun, that the American Embassy refused
his request for assistance with security contractors guarding al-
Rashid Hotel compound inside the American protected International Zone
in Baghdad. He said that yesterday morning at 6 a.m., Iraqi police
again tried to enter the hotel, only to be refused by the contractors
guarding the gate.
An Iraqi justice issued on Monday an arrest warrant for Mr. Hashemi
for the February 8, 2005, murder of Mr. Alusi’s two sons during an
assassination attempt on Mr. Alusi. The warrant was approved by Prime
Minister al-Maliki. Though Mr. Hashemi had announced his resignation
from his post in May, he was still technically the culture minister,
thus making the order the first time a sitting minister in the Iraqi
government was wanted for an arrest.
As the Sun reported yesterday, an order for American GIs to accompany
the national police on the raid of Mr. Hashemi’s home was overturned
in Washington, according to an American officer monitoring the
Because Mr. Hashemi is a member of the Iraq Accordance Front, the
Sunni bloc in Parliament, and Mr. Maliki is the leader of the majority
Shiite bloc, known as the United Iraqi Alliance, the arrest warrant
may scuttle the thin chance Iraqi politicians will reach a political
accord before the 2009 national elections.
An administration official yesterday also pointed out that there are
Shiite politicians in the Maliki government that have outstanding
warrants who have not been apprehended. “It’s like handing out
speeding tickets at the Indy 500. There is no way this will not look
sectarian,” the official said.
Mr. Alusi said he is worried that as time passes and Mr. Hashemi
remains in al-Rashid Hotel he will find a way out of the Green Zone to
flee the country. This scenario was floated by the head of Mr.
Hashemi’s party, Adnan al-Dulaimi, on the American funded Radio Sawa
on Wednesday. “If we move now, we will have him,” Mr. Alusi said. “But
if we lose time, he could flee the country. I am more afraid he will
leave the Green Zone. I believe his people would kill him to close the
file. Everyone will say the Shia have done it, or Alusi will do it. He
is dangerous to them because of what he knows.”
Mr. Alusi first came to public attention in America in connection with
attending a counterterrorism conference in Israel, for which he
received some criticism in Iraq.
The Minister’s Taliban connection
Reader comment on: Appeal to Bush Pressed by Alusi Over the Murder of His Two Sons
Submitted by Badr al-Budoor, Jul 1, 2007 14:03
Sotaliraq yesterday quoted Mr. Al-Alusi as saying that the Minister of
Culture (a Wahhabi mosque preacher before he was appointed to the post
of Minster of Culture) had previously participated in training camps
in Afghanistan when it was under Taliban rule. If this turned out to
be true, it would be the supreme irony: the US drove the Taliban out
of Afghanistan only to install them as rulers of Iraq!
U.S. Shields an Accused Iraqi Killer
By ELI LAKE
Staff Reporter of the Sun
June 28, 2007
WASHINGTON – The American Embassy in Baghdad is offering de facto
protection to the Iraqi culture minister, who an Iraqi judge this week
charged with the attempted murder of a fellow parliamentarian, Mithal
That is what Mr. Alusi told The New York Sun yesterday in a phone call
from Baghdad. Mr. Alusi said the wanted man, As’ad Kamal al-Hashemi,
had fled to al-Rashid Hotel inside the American-protected
international zone in the center of Baghdad. Iraqi national police on
Tuesday went to this location, only to be told by the South American
mercenaries guarding the al-Rashid compound that they could not enter
the grounds of the hotel where Mr. Hashemi was staying. Mr. Alusi then
called the office of the American ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, to
ask the Americans to order the guards to allow the national police to
enter the premises. He was, in so many words, refused.
“I called Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s office today and yesterday and
they did not give any kind of answer. They are playing with us. They
say this is an Iraqi issue, we are not going to be involved. And
normally this is a very good attitude, but not when it stops us from
arresting terrorists,” Mr. Alusi said.
The contractors who guard al-Rashid Hotel report directly to American
contractors, who in turn report to the American military command in
Iraq or the American Embassy.
An American officer who has been monitoring the standoff said that
General David Petraeus, who commands the Iraqi theater, had originally
ordered American soldiers to accompany Iraqi national police on the
raid Monday of Mr. Hashemi’s home. But on the way to his home, the GIs
were ordered to turn around after the Pentagon decided no Americans
should be involved in the arrest. “The order was overturned in
Washington,” the officer said.
A State Department spokesman said, “This is an Iraqi issue,” and
offered no further comment on the matter.
Mr. Alusi is the sole representative of an Iraqi party that has
explicitly rejected the sectarian extremes of either the Sunni or
Shiite bloc. Mr. Hashemi is a member of the Tawafuq, or Iraqi
Accordance Front, a Sunni party that has recently tried to gin up
legislation asking that American troops leave Iraq. On Monday, an
Iraqi jurist with the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad signed a
warrant for Mr. Hashemi’s arrest, charging him with financing and
ordering the February 8, 2005, assassination attempt. Mr. Alusi’s
sons, Ayman and Jamal, were killed in the attack.
The standoff in Baghdad places one of America’s best allies in the
parliament in Iraq at odds with the Bush administration. Mr. Alusi
campaigned in 2005 on a platform that supported the rule of law and
rejected both Sunni and Shiite terrorism.
In 2004, he earned enmity from Muslim terrorists of both sectarian
stripes when he told reporters that he had visited Israel to attend a
Mr. Crocker has for his part used his energies in recent months to get
the Shiite and Sunni confessional parties to agree on political
reconciliation, including an energy law.
At the same time, one of the chief missions of the military surge in
Baghdad is to assist the Iraqi government in enforcing the rule of
In a phone interview with Al-Jazeera this week, Mr. Hashemi said the
charges against him were false and that the moves against him were
part of a political campaign to sideline Sunni politicians. He has
announced his resignation as culture minister late last month.
The New York Sun first reported the order to arrest the culture
minister on Monday evening. In May the Sun wrote that the interior
ministry had recommended to Prime Minister al-Maliki that he prosecute
15 Sunni members of parliament for ties to terrorism. To date those
prosecutions have not been ordered.
Mr. Alusi, who opted to allow the national police, rather than his own
men, to pursue the killer of his sons, expressed frustration and
“The joke is that the embassy is repeating is that this is an Iraqi
issue. But they block the police to go get him. I am asking them to
give an order to open up the checkpoint so we do not have a problem.
The reality is there is a potential for an international scandal and
an American scandal. I am going now to say the American embassy is
protecting terrorists. The Americans need to let the police go into
the compound,” he said.
The head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, Adnan al-Duleimi, in an
appearance yesterday on the American-funded Radio Sawa, said that a
solution to the problem may be to allow Mr. Hashemi leave Iraq and
resign his post abroad.
“I believe he will leave Iraq and declare his resignation,” he said.
He added that he thought Mr. Maliki would agree to allow the culture
minister to flee Iraq as a deal to reduce tensions.
Aides to Mr. Maliki, however, who approved the warrant for Mr.
Hashemi’s arrest on Monday, denied any such bargain was in the offing.