Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, May 30, 2003

Was Saddam considering assassinating the Lion of Damascus?

A Lebanese newspaper Friday published what it said was a plot hatched by Iraq's Saddam Hussein to assassinate his Syrian counterpart, Hafez Assad.

Al-Mustaqbal newspaper said Gen. Michel Aoun, an anti-Syrian former Lebanese army commander, made the offer to kill the late Syrian leader in Geneva where Assad was due in 1994 to meet with then U.S. President Bill Clinton. The newspaper cited what it said were documents recovered from Iraq's collapsed Baath Party intelligence.

Assad died in 2000 at age 69 of natural causes.

Al-Mustaqbal, which is owned by Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, said the plot was revealed in a letter signed by Ahmed Fayez Merhabi to Iraqi Deputy President Taha Yassin Ramadan. Merhabi was not further identified but his name appeared in a letter published by the newspaper Thursday.

That letter, the newspaper said, was based on a verbal message from Aoun to Saddam in October 1993 in which the former military leader asked Iraq to buy weapons and explosives for the operation and cover its cost, which was estimated at between $300,000 and $400,000.

The letter proposed killing Assad by firing two rockets on his plane when it landed in Geneva. It included details about the Geneva airport, the recruitment of an airport employee "who promised to supply information," and the formation of a team made up of a French national, a Palestinian and a number of Lebanese.

Aoun, who has been living in exile in France since his ouster by a Syrian-led force in October 1990, declared "a war of liberation" against Syrian forces in Lebanon in 1989. At that time, reports said he was receiving funds and weapons from Saddam to fight the Syrians.

< email | 5/30/2003 12:02:00 PM | link

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