First Executions of Iraqi Officers

Word has leaked out to DEBKA-Net-Weekly that two Iraqi army colonels have been executed on Saddam Hussein’s orders, on suspicion of complicity in an alleged American-backed military coup plot to overturn the regime or assassinate the ruler.

The two men, Colonel Mohammad Yassin Khedr and Colonel Abbas Mojtaba Mohaddeth, served at the army’s main headquarters in Baghdad.

The suspicions against Colonel Khedr arose, not from any of his actions, but from his wife’s shopping expedition in London.

Khedr and family went on a trip to the UK five months ago. His superior officers gave him permission to travel with the knowledge of the Iraqi defense ministry and the general staff. Khedr’s trip was cleared with unusual expeditiousness, despite the tough restrictions on overseas travel by Iraqi officers. They are normally kept cooling their heels while subjected to close Iraqi military intelligence surveillance over several months. At destination, Iraqi army officers are constantly watched.

In the case of Khedr, the watchers apparently failed to turn up any secret incriminating meetings with British or American agents. Wiretaps on his phone yielded no suspicious conversations. But his wife did go shopping.

Khedr later told interrogators his wife bought items for fellow officers with money they gave him in advance. The accused officer, who came from a fairly wealthy family, said his wife’s shopping was paid for out of his own savings. But Iraqi intelligence agents insisted that the money for the merchandise came from bribes handed over by the CIA and Britain’s MI6 to win Iraqi officers over to the US war effort.

Mohaddeth’s story is less clear. During a trip to Damascus two months ago, Syrian intelligence claims to have “caught” him meeting with “dubious characters”, suspected of working for the CIA and under Syrian surveillance for some time.

The officers’ trials were swift. They were convicted, sentenced and executed on the same day.

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