Mithal al-Alousi: Paying a heavy price for recognizing Israel’s existence

February 10, 2005

This is a follow-up to the dispatch Iraqi official wishes "shana tova" to the Israeli people (September 15, 2004).

* Mithal al-Alousi, a brave Iraqi and a man of peace, paid a heavy price for his democratic views and for recognizing Israel, as his sons were murdered in Baghdad yesterday.

* Mithal al-Alousi is a subscriber to this email list and has publicly recognized Israel's right to exist.



1. "Al-Alousi survives an assassination attempt, but two of his sons are killed" (United Press International, Feb. 8 2005)
2. "A previous attempt on Mithal al-Alousi's life" (CNN, Jan. 13, 2005)
3. "Al-Alousi had to set up a new party after his visit to Israel" (, Oct. 27, 2004)
4. "New Iraq, Old Routine" (Arabic Media Internet Network, Oct. 6, 2004)
5. "Iraqi defends his Israel visit" (Washington Times, Sept. 26, 2004)
6. Repeat of previous dispatch: Iraqi official wishes "shana tova" to the Israeli people (Sept. 15, 2004.)

[Note by Tom Gross]


To remind you: Last September, Mithal al-Alousi, an official in the interim Iraqi government, stepped up onto a podium in Herzliya, Israel, and wished "Shana Tova (Jewish Happy New Year) to the Israeli people".

Al-Alousi visited Israel to speak at an international conference on counter-terrorism at the ICT (International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism), a think tank housed at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) in Herzliya. I was also a speaker at that conference and had an opportunity to talk privately to al-Alousi, who was on his first visit to Israel, and who came across as a pleasant man who genuinely desires peaceful relations between the Arab world and Israel.

Al-Alousi's trip to Israel was reported on in dozens of newspapers around the world, including the Arab media. Since then, he has received numerous death threats and there have been several attempts on his life.

For reasons connected to security, I did not make public previous updates concerning Mithal al-Alousi.

The story I attach below, from UPI, has received virtually no publicity anywhere else in the West. I also attach several previous articles I didn't send before.

Even though his life is under threat every day, Mithal continues to advocate pro-democratic views and says that Iraq should have peaceful relations with Israel.

-- Tom Gross


Baghdad Bomb Kills 21 Army Recruits
United Press International
February 9, 2005

A car bomber in central Baghdad killed at least 20 people yesterday and injured more than a dozen others applying as Iraqi army recruits, military officials said.

The blast shook the capital around 10:30 a.m., a spokesman with the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division said. Security sources said the explosion cut through a truck carrying Iraqi soldiers at Muthanna Airport Field.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Mithal al-Alousi, the general-secretary of the Iraqi Nation Democratic Party. Al-Alousi survived the attack, but two of his sons and a bodyguard were killed in the spray of bullets.

Al-Alousi, a former senior member of the Iraqi National Congress party, visited Israel three months ago to attend a conference on combating terrorism and has been the subject of many assassination attempts in the past.

The attacks come on the heels of two attacks Monday that killed at least 27 people in Mosul and Baqubah.

The attacks this week have all targeted either police, military forces, or civilians hoping to find jobs in the security forces.



Car bomb outside mosque kills seven
Baghdad election center director killed
January 13, 2005

A car bomb was detonated outside a Shia mosque Thursday night, killing four Iraqi police officers and three civilians and wounding 30 others, a U.S. military spokesman said.

The bombing in the town of Khan Bani Saad, about 20 km (12 miles) south of Baquba, occurred at about 6 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), said Maj. Neal O'Brien, spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division in Tikrit.

Afterward, Iraqi police engaged in small-arms fire with insurgents, who were seen fleeing the area, he said.

The wounded were taken to a hospital. O'Brien said the attack "shows the desperate nature of the insurgents as Iraq moves closer to elections."

Meanwhile, gunmen killed the director of a Baghdad election center Thursday, another in a series of attacks targeting election officials and candidates as the vote set for January 30 approaches.

Baghdad police, who reported the slaying, did not release the director's name. He was in charge of an election center in the al-Khadoumiyah neighborhood in the northern part of Baghdad.

Also on Thursday, the Democratic Islamic Party announced Iraqi presidential candidate Mithal al-Alousi was targeted for the second time in two weeks.

Al-Alousi, who supports normal relations between Iraq and Israel, was attacked Tuesday at midnight in western Baghdad.

Al-Alousi said an explosion went off on the second floor of his home just as the lights were turned on in those rooms. No one was injured. Police believe a grenade was thrown through the window.

On Wednesday, a representative for prominent Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani was shot to death in Salman Pak, east of Baghdad. The representative's son and four bodyguards were also shot, police said.

Sheikh Mahmoud al-Madaeeni was al-Sistani's representative in Salman Pak, according to the town's police chief. Al-Sistani is Iraq's most influential Shiite leader and strongly supports the general elections.

[The rest of this CNN article relates to other matters concerning Iraq and is not included here.]

(CNN's Dana Bash, Elise Labott, Nermeen al-Mufti, Barbara Starr, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Ayman Mohyeldin and Jennifer Yuille contributed to this report.)



Fired INC official founds new Iraqi political party
October 27, 2004

Mithal al-Alousi, formerly a senior member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), announced the formation of a new political party to be known as the Democratic Iraqi National Party in Baghdad. This party will take part in the Iraqi elections planned for January 2005. In addition to his previous membership in the INC, Alousi was the Director General of the committee formed for the de-Ba’athification of Iraq.

Alousi attended a conference on terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel in September 2004 and stated that many elements in Iraq are interested in diplomatic ties with Israel. Following Israeli media reports of Alousi’s visit and public statements, the INC declared that Alousi’s statements did not represent “its point of view” and fired Alousi from his position within the party. At least one other member of the INC left the party in response to this incident.



New Iraq, old routine
By Ksenia Svetlova *
Arabic Media Internet Network
October 6, 2004

[* Ksenia Svetlova is an Israeli columnist for the Russian-language newspaper Novosty Nedeli and an Arab affairs reporter for Israel Plus, Russian-language TV.]

Does anyone remember why US invaded Iraq? I mean except for the threat of WMD that had not been found and the alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda chief Usama Bin Laden, which had not been proven? Let me remind you if you don’t. According to George Bush Jr. one of the prime goals was liberating Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and building free and democratic Iraq. I believe the exact words of American president were “We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near. …..” (address to the nation, 17/03/2003).

For plenty Iraqis these promises sounded like music to their ears. Some were naïve enough to believe that these words can and will be translated into actions and that brighter, better and freer future is just around the corner. Only guess what: new Iraq is a lot like the old one.

Too bad that some of the keenest believers had to find out the hard way. One of these people is Jamal Mithal al-Alousi, ex-head of the debaathification committee and an ex-member of the National Iraqi Congress party, headed by renown US supporter Ahmad Chelabi. Today Mr. Al-Alousi is an ex, a used-to-be, an outcast whose only crime... is a visit to Israel. Mr. Al-Alousi was invited to participate in international conference on global impact of terrorism that took place in Herzlliya, Israel 11-14/09/04. While still in Israel al-Alousi was notified that he was sacked from his position and from the party for visiting "a Zionist state".

Not long after his return to Iraq al-Alousi learned that there was a court order against him and that he is about to be arrested. On what grounds, you ask? Well, apparently new Iraq still lives by old legal codes, and while Saddam Hussein is in prison and will soon be tried for his crimes, the laws that were produced by his regime are nevertheless valid!

The particular law that was broke by Mithal al-Alousi was issued in 1968 and states that any Iraqi that had visited Israel is to be punished severely. Not long ago all Iraqi passports bared a stamp "valid for visitation in any country except for Zionist entity".

Today the stamp is gone, but it seems that the routine is still very much alive. And although the bad guy with a moustache is locked away, his supporters around the country are determined to stick to the tradition of hatred, terror and fear. Should Mithal al-Alousi be thrown in jail, there is more then enough evidence that his life will be in danger as constant threats on him and his family continues pouring in.

So where is the democracy George Bush was talking about before invading Iraq fits it? Where are the freedom of speech and movement that being so bluntly violated by the same Governing council that promised to protect these fundamental human rights and on 08/03/2004 actually signed on the text of interim constitution which states in article 13 D that "each Iraqi has the right of free movement in all parts of Iraq and the right to travel abroad and return freely."? Does the journey to democracy ends with Saddam's and Aziz’s trials? If so, perhaps these guys should be given their old jobs back? If not, some action should be taken already today, as it could be too late tomorrow for Mithal al-Alousi and other Iraqis that still hope that freedom and democracy shall blossom on Iraqi soil once. Right now would be the perfect time to take a closer look on the "New Iraq" before more people will pay by their lives for someone else's empty promises.



[This is one of articles in dozens of news outlets worldwide that mentioned al-Alousi's visit to Israel.]

Iraqi defends his Israel visit
The Washington Times
September 26, 2004

The former Iraqi official in charge of disbanding Iraq's Baath Party, Mithal al-Alousi, reportedly said Sunday he was not the only Iraqi to visit Israel.

The London-based ash-Sharq al-Awsat quoted al-Alousi, who was fired from his position for visiting Israel, as threatening to sue those who had terminated him from his post.

He told the Arabic-language daily "incumbent officials and leaders in Iraq have gone on secret visits to Israel," adding there were also leaders in the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi, who went to the Jewish state.

But he refused to reveal names.

Al-Alousi described his recent visit to Israel as "legitimate as a politician and researcher in issues of combating terrorism, its causes and results, especially in Iraq."

He added that if Iraq wanted to live in peace and "if we want to build a new Iraq, we should establish good relations with the rest of the world, based on respect for Iraq's sovereignty."

He claimed he had received approval from the Iraqi National Council for his visit to Israel, adding the council intended to question him on that visit.

Al-Alousi also described a handshake between Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York last week as "nice."




[This is attached for all those who have joined this email list since last September.]

Iraqi official wishes "Shana Tova" to the Israeli people... is then sacked; his family in Baghdad are forced to go into hiding.
September 15, 2004


1. "Shana Tova to the People of Israel"
2. The Media and Terrorism
3. Schily: "Fight Anti-Semitism As Well As Terrorism"
4. Eiland reveals in public for the first Time: Israel's Criteria for "Targeted Interceptions"
5. Arafat sends New Year wishes to Israelis, and Dispatches Suicide Bomber to Kill them at the same time


[Note by Tom Gross]


This week Mithal al-Alousi, a senior official in the new Iraqi government, stepped up onto a podium in Herzliya, Israel, and wished "Shana Tova [Happy New Year] to the Israeli people". (The Jewish New Year begins this evening.)

Al-Alousi, who is director general of the Supreme Iraqi National Commission for DeBathification in Baghdad, has called for a new open, honest and tolerant beginning for the Arab peoples.

Al-Alousi was in Israel to speak at an international conference on Counter-Terrorism at the ICT (International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism) a think tank housed at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) in Herzliya.

His visit marks the first time that a senior Iraqi official has publicly visited Israel. Furthermore, al-Alousi flew to Israel (from Ankara, Turkey) on El Al Israel Airlines.

I was also a speaker at this conference and had an opportunity to talk privately to al-Alousi, who was on his first visit to Israel, and who comes across as a pleasant man who genuinely wishes for peaceful relations between the Arab world and Israel.

Al-Alousi said "many intellectuals in Iraq know that Israel must be taken into account as an existing fact and that generations of people have been born here. It is in Iraq's interests to have diplomatic relations with everyone, and that is what we want."


He added that he came to Israel "because it is such a vital component in the Middle East".

I wasn't going to write on this list about al-Alousi's visit, but after details of his visit were reported on by journalists for the AP and Reuters, it has been reported upon by dozens of Arab news outlets.

Al-Alousi has now been fired by the Iraqi National Congress after an emergency meeting of its leadership in the wake of reports of the visit, and his family, facing death threats, have had to go into hiding.

Al-Alousi said he was aware of the risk of coming to Israel but with so many other threats against him already, he said he was used to threats to his life.

Al-Alousi is (perhaps) ahead of his time. On Sunday, the Arab Web site Illaf published a report stating that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hishiyar Zibai is the most prominent of an important group in the Iraqi government pushing for an end to the state of war between Iraq and Israel.

According to Illaf, quoting Iraqi diplomats in Amman, last week there was a meeting in Amman of senior Iraqis with Israelis. Jordanian government sources said there are contacts between Israelis and Iraqis, though usually it is business people, not government officials. The sources said the Iraqi defense minister also favors a thaw in relations with Israel, but Iraqi President Iyad Alawi is opposed, arguing that the Iraqi government should concentrate on rehabilitating the country.

-- Tom Gross



The ICT conference brought together about 800 experts on terrorism (intelligence officials, politicians, policy-makers, military officials, academics and some journalists) from about 33 countries. It began (deliberately) on September 11, and ended yesterday evening.

I was asked to speak at the conference on the "Media and terrorism." More specifically, I spoke on the way in which terrorist groups, while rejecting western values and society, are experts at skillfully exploiting the western media to help further their political aims, and this has led to western intellectuals (and many journalists) sympathizing with not just their aims but their tactics (i.e. mass murder). Terrorists and their sympathizers lie to their teeth, knowing they can rely on western journalists to uncritically print their lies and rely on western politicians (particularly in Europe) to lap them up. They are "useful idiots," as Lenin described those in the west taken in by Communist propaganda.

Other speakers at the conference included:

* Moshe Ya'alon, the chief of staff of the Israeli army
* Shabtai Shavit, the former Head of the Mossad, and Chairman of the ICT Directors
* Vladimir Vasilyev, Chairman of the Duma (Russian Parliament) Committee for Security
* Otto Schily, the Interior Minister of Germany
* Gennady Tarasov, Russian ambassador to Israel
* Rohan Gunartna, from Singapore, who is regarded as the world's leading academic expert on Al Qaeda
* Anne Bayefsky, an expert on the UN discrimination against Israel and others

There were several other speakers from Russia, China, Germany, Denmark, Australia, India, Georgia, as well as a number of Israeli-Arab leaders.

American speakers including officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Other speakers on the media included:
* Shalom Kital, the head of Israel Channel Two news
* Yon Feder, the Chief Editor of Ynet, Israel's largest Internet news portal
* Yossi Melman, intelligence correspondent for Ha'aretz



Otto Schily, the Interior Minister of Germany, called the fight against terrorism a "new world war" and said "we cannot discuss terrorism without mentioning anti-Semitism as well - it provides the foundation on which terrorism often builds."

He added: "No nation has suffered under the scourge of terrorism longer and harder than Israel... we see a dreadful trail of blood over the years and decades caused by Islamist terrorism. Islamist terrorism has become the most dangerous threat to the whole civilized world in the 21st century."

Tom Gross adds: Schily was originally a leftist German politician, who rose up through the ranks of the Green Party and was sympathetic to the PLO. Today, as interior minister, he is taking a much firmer line on terror groups and has recently banned Hamas and PLO front organizations from operating in Germany.




Speaking at the conference, National Security Adviser Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland revealed that the IDF had four criteria that had to be met to carry out a targeted interception.

1. There was no way to possibility to arrest the person, without dozens of civilians dying in gun battles. Eiland indicated that targeted interceptions were very rarely used in the West Bank, where the IDF pretty much has free reign in the past few years. Eiland also noted that during this time security forces had arrested over 1,500 people.

2. Interceptions are only approved when the intelligence was completely reliable, and no mistake could be made about the intended target's identity. Eiland, who was head of the Operations Division during much of Israel's recent conflict with the Palestinians, said the IDF carried out about 150 attempted interceptions in the past four years. "There was not one single case of mistake in identity. Sometimes we missed or caused damage beyond what we expected. This is a 100 percent record," claimed Eiland.

3. The target was "important enough."

4. It had to be done with the minimum probability of causing innocent casualties. "There have been dozens, if not hundreds of times that we had good operational opportunity to do something but did not because it did not meet all four conditions," Eiland said.



Tom Gross writes:

Ever the master of manipulation of the media, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat yesterday sent a New Year's message on his own behalf, that of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people to the people of Israel.

In extending his best wishes Arafat also expressed the hope that Israelis and Palestinians can begin to live in security and attain a long-awaited peace "for the betterment of your children and our children and a promising future for the whole region."

The message was also signed in his capacity as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

At the same time he was sending the message, gunmen in Ramallah working for Arafat's Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, murdered another Rami Yaghmour, 28, suspected of collaboration with Israel. Yaghmour had been arrested last month by the Palestinian Authority's Special Forces security apparatus and PA security sources claimed that he had confessed during "interrogation". Yaghmour is the sixth suspected collaborator killed in Ramallah in recent months.

Also at the same time that Arafat told Israelis that he wished "for the betterment of your children and our children and a promising future for the whole region," Arafat's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades dispatched a suicide bomber to kill them. The Palestinian suicide bomber on a bicycle blew up at a West Bank crossing, wounding three Israeli soldiers, one seriously (his injuries are life-threatening, according to doctors). The bomber blew himself up at the checkpoint after he failed to get into Israel proper.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.