Top Maliki Advisor May Be Wanted Terrorist (Updated)
Oh, this is so juicy!
Sources “close to the Iraqi National Security apparatus” tell Kuwait’s leading daily Al-Rai Al-‘Am that a top Iraqi official, who still goes by the pseudonym “Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (The Engineer),” was a participant in the terrorist attacks on the American and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983, and was also “probably involved” in the assassination attempt on the late Emir Jabir al-Ahmad’s life two years later.
The story was filed out of London by Al-Rai’s correspondent Ilyas Nasrallah and was reported on from Kuwait by Hussein al-Harbi. These Iraqi “sources” were in London on a “private and undeclared visit” when they spoke to the reporters. According to these sources, al-Muhandis’ real name is “Jamal Ja’afar Ali al-‘Ibrahimi.” Al-Muhandis is now a member of the United Alliance List bloc in the Iraqi parliament, and is also a close advisor to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The story says that al-Muhandis started out as a Da’awa Party member, and then joined the splinter group headed by Izzeddin Selim when Da’awa began to break-up in the early 1980s. Al-Muhandis then joined SCIRI’s Badr Brigade and slowly rose up the ranks and garnered favor with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard—the patrons of SCIRI.
Al-Muhadis allegedly participated in the attack on the American and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 (Note: this is what the Saddam regime’s archives suggest too), and may have had a role in the suicide car bomb that targeted Kuwait’s Emir in 1985 and killed several members of the royal guards.
But the major assertion of the story is that “[al-Muhandis] was appointed by the commander of the Quds Corps of the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard...General Qasim Suleimani to become his personal representative in Iraq, to coordinate with the various Sunni and Shi'a parties.”
Al-Muhandis was “born in Basra and finished his bachelor’s degree there in Mechanical Engineering.”
Analysis: Some people dealing with Maliki’s office these days tell me that al-Muhandis is super-influential. His expanding stature must have rubbed someone the wrong way and hence this leak in a Kuwaiti newspaper. Al-Muhandis is the quintessential deal-maker in Baghdad these days and he is feared by all the Islamist groups. He speaks with authority and that is something—if viewed within the Shi'a Islamist context in Iraq—that could credibly suggest that he speaks for Iran’s Sardar (General) Suleimani, who is also in charge of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the PA’s Hamas.
Will al-Muhadis assume the role of facilitator of an American-Iranian channel for talks over Iraq’s future? Was someone threatened by this prospect and felt compelled to dig up these two-decade-old terrorism charges against an obscure figure on the Baghdad political scene? This latter group could include those who are against setting up such a channel in the first place, or others who are competing with al-Muhandis (or the Revolutionary Guard) in taking on this crucial role.
I wonder if al-Muhadis will be included in Maliki’s delegation to Amman on Thursday where a raptly-watched summit between President George Bush and Maliki is supposed to be held.
NB: A couple of you have written to me about moderating the comments section. I appreciate the concern but I think the best approach is to let everyone have their say, even if it contains profanities and wild allegations. Reasonable readers of Talisman Gate should be able to discern for themselves what is useful from what is not.
UPDATE, November 27, 2006: Al-Ra'i al-'Aam carried a follow-up story on al-Muhandis today citing Kuwaiti sources as saying that "Jamal Ja'afar Ali Muhammad al-'Ibrahimi" (aka "Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis") was a long-term resident in Kuwait ("residency no. 2722174") before participating in the terror attacks. Then the story provides two versions as to what happened to him subsequently with one claiming that he went into hiding inside Kuwait until Saddam's 1990 invasion of that country, and the other being that he managed to escape to Iran shortly after the 1983 attacks. Al-Muhandis "was born in 1955 and lived in Jabiriya" while staying in Kuwait. He also carried a Pakistani passport (there are hundreds of Iraqi families of Pakistani descent, including that of ex-PM Ibrahim Ja'afari) under the name "Jamal Ja'afar Muhammad 'Ali Abdul-Nebi." The second version that has him escaping to Iran seems to be the more accurate one to my eyes.