Home  |   Jihad Watch  |   Horowitz  |   Archive  |   Columnists  |     DHFC  |  Store  |   Contact  |   Links  |   Search Saturday, May 26, 2018
FrontPageMag Article
Write Comment View Comments Printable Article Email Article
Visit Israel, Face Charges Back Home By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 19, 2008

The opening speaker at last week’s World Summit on Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, was Mithal al-Alusi, an Iraqi secular Sunni politician who constitutes his own one-man faction in the Iraqi parliament.


Various press reports quote him as saying to the summit: “We should cooperate with Israel in gathering intelligence, along with Turkey, Kuwait and the United States, to guarantee an exchange of information in order to confront terrorism together.” And: “Iran today is the center for disaster in the region. The majority of Iraqi people do not support the Tehran regime.” He is also said to have called for stronger ties between Israel and Iraq.


This seems like an encouraging development—except that al-Alusi, now back in Iraq, may find himself facing charges. On Sunday the Iraqi parliament—by acclamation—lifted his immunity, banned him from leaving the country, and asked prosecutors to press charges against him for visiting Israel. Al-Alusi claims that “the law does not allow them to do this. What they really want is to threaten any person who talks against Iran. Yesterday, I received death threats [over the visit]. Today, they gave the green light to the killers.”


Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Safa al-Din al-Safi, for his part, told the assembly that “we reject this visit which violated the law and provoked the feelings of the Iraqi people. The government will take all legal measures against this person.” The law he mentioned—prohibiting visits to what are considered enemy countries—goes back to Saddam Hussein’s time. MP Hadi al-Ameri of the religious-Shiite Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, a key faction in the governing coalition, demanded that al-Alusi be prosecuted for “dealing with the enemy.”


In fact last week wasn’t al-Alusi’s first time in Israel, and considering the outcomes of his previous visit here, it’s undeniably striking that he came again.


That time it was September 2004 and he also attended the year’s counterterrorism conference in Herzliya. He was then a member of the Iraqi National Congress, the party led by Ahmed Chalabi. During the visit he wrote a special article for Israel’s ynet news site in which he stated: “Our new Iraq does not believe in wars. I wish every Jew, Muslim, and Christian peace. I wish every father and mother happiness in raising their children.”


Upon returning to Iraq, though, al-Alusi was expelled from the Iraqi National Congress for making the visit. It was then that he set up his Al Umma or Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation, which he now represents alone in the 275-member parliament.


But much worse was to happen. With al-Alusi and his family receiving death threats ever since the visit, in February 2005, as the Wall Street Journal described it, “assassins opened fire on Mr. al-Alusi’s car as it approached his Baghdad home. He wasn’t in the vehicle, but his sons, 30-year-old Ayman and 22-year-old Gamal, were. Both were killed as their father watched.” It was one of several assassination attempts on al-Alusi himself in recent years and the one that came closest to succeeding.


About a year ago two Sunnis were arrested and admitted to having been paid $500 each to carry out the hit by Iraq’s then-culture minister Asaad al-Hashemi. In reaction, al-Hashemi resigned and fled to Syria. Last month a Baghdad court found him guilty in absentia for the crime and sentenced him to hang. Al-Alusi and his supporters have been trying to get the Iraqi and Syrian governments to extradite al-Hashemi, so far without results.


It is easy to type out words of praise for Mithal al-Alusi’s great courage, but hard not to see his activity as tinged with the quixotic. The fact that his party has almost no backing, and that last week’s visit to Israel prompted apparently unanimous or near-unanimous condemnation by voice vote, is not encouraging. That degree of hostility to Israel is hard to reconcile with hope for an eventual pro-American Iraq, since anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment tend to be so closely fused in the Arab world and to spring from the same deep Islamic root.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Home | Blog | Horowitz | Archives | Columnists | Search | Store | Links | CSPC | Contact | Advertise with Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright©2007 FrontPageMagazine.com