Six Iraqi Officials Offer to Surrender to US
Nashwan Fateh Ismail, was the head of security at the University of Mosul. His job was to track all political activity on a campus of 5,000 students and block any references to non-Baath political parties. Under Mr. Hussein, all other political parties were banned.
Six Iraqi Officials Offer to Surrender to U.S.
By DAVID ROHDE, NY TImes
MOSUL, Iraq, April 14 — Last week, Lt. Gen. Tahaseen Rafan was an Iraqi domestic intelligence official running a network of spies in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Today he is frightened, alone and in hiding, one of thousands of members of Saddam Hussein's security apparatus who have abruptly gone from predator to prey.
Early this afternoon, General Rafan and five midlevel Iraqi military and intelligence officials arrived at the makeshift United States military base here to negotiate their surrender and ask for protection from revenge attacks. None of the men are on the list of 55 senior Iraqi officials wanted on war crimes charges, but the group hinted that their surrender was being closely watched by more senior officials now in hiding.
"Military intelligence and Mukhabarat," General Rafan said, referring to the country's military and secret police services. "All of them will come if they know I am here and I am protected."
The seriousness of the men's offer was difficult to gauge. All across Iraq, former Baath Party officials, opposition figures and tribal leaders are exaggerating their influence and jockeying for power in postwar Iraq. But American and Kurdish officials seem to be taking General Rafan and his colleagues seriously. Their offer is tempting because it is being made in Mosul, a stronghold of Sunni Arab nationalism and the hometown of scores of senior Baath Party officials.
Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council and the overall military commander in northern Iraq, and Sultan Hashim Ahmed, the Iraqi defense minister, are both natives of this city and are rumored to be hiding here. Both men are on the United States list of Iraqi officials wanted on war crimes charges.
The delicate negotiations began today in a barren former Iraqi Airlines office at Mosul's airport, which has been turned into a base for American Special Operations forces. The six Iraqi officials sat in a close circle with Lt. Col. Robert Waltemeyer, the American commander.
"The most sensitive thing after every conflict is this point," Colonel Waltemeyer said, as the officials listened intently. "Our intent is not for reprisals or to settle any scores."
The colonel quickly made his priorities clear: information about unconventional weapons, terrorism and senior officials.
All the officials denied knowledge of unconventional weapons or terrorism. "That was the responsibility of the commanders of special military intelligence," General Rafan said in a later interview.
The Americans were also eager to learn more about the Iraqi Army's Fifth Corps, a unit of tens of thousands of soldiers that simply melted away after Iraqi forces withdrew from the front lines in the north. General Rafan said the soldiers had returned to their home cities.
The American colonel ended the meeting by saying he would give the Iraqis "some time to think," and he made a clear pitch to other officials in hiding.
"One of the things I can promise is that if they come forward there will be a process for justice," Colonel Waltemeyer said.
Later interviews with General Rafan and another Iraqi intelligence official who attended the meeting offered a window into the workings of Mr. Hussein's police state.
The second intelligence official, Nashwan Fateh Ismail, was the head of security at the University of Mosul. In other words, he spied on students and professors.
He said his job was to track all political activity on a campus of 5,000 students and block any references to non-Baath political parties. Under Mr. Hussein, all other political parties were banned.
Mr. Ismail said he had a network of about 50 agents on campus, including four professors and four or five students who worked for him full time. He also had professors on his payroll at a university in Erbil in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
"Sometimes I got information about some political movements and mainly about teachers traveling to the north," Mr. Ibrahim said. "But honestly I never submitted a report about any of them."
Internet access was strictly controlled by one professor, who monitored each Web page a student visited. Any student receiving letters from the United States was expected to report their arrival.
"I knew maybe every fact about their lives," Mr. Ismail said, referring to certain people he spied on. "But I never submitted them."
Asked if he felt that someone was watching his own work, he said yes and added, "I don't want to talk about that."
General Rafan was far more circumspect about the details of his work. A 20-year veteran of Iraqi intelligence, he fondly recalled traveling to different countries as a security agent on Iraqi Airlines planes. "England, France, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan," he said, ticking off the places he visited. "I was sent to some places on a visit for a week and some countries 20 days."
He said each flight carried 18 security agents to protect against hijackers, and he said neither he nor the other agents engaged in espionage.
In his latest job, he said he had many agents in Kurdish-controlled areas, including some he had never met and could not identify. He played down his power, but dressed like someone who had enjoyed the high life. He wore a gold wristwatch and a large ring that appeared to be studded with diamonds.
General Rafan, an ethnic Kurd, seemed haggard and run-down. He said he feared retaliation from Kurds who were gassed, expelled and brutalized by Mr. Hussein's government.
He said he had no choice but to remain loyal to Mr. Hussein. His family had been under constant threat, he said, and he felt he could not have defected without risking their lives. The negotiations today were organized by Farhan Sharafani, a Kurdish tribal leader General Rafan said he considered trustworthy.
The general complained that the United States was not moving quickly enough in protecting him and other officials in hiding. He warned that if American officials did not act, former Iraqi intelligence and military officials could remain in hiding or even eventually take up arms.
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