Associated Press & Reuters – 2005-12-09 22:30:08
Shiite Leader Calls Bush a “Threat to World Peace”
Hussein Dakroub / Associated Press
BEIRUT, Lebanon (November 26, 2005) — Lebanon’s most senior Shiite Muslim cleric, a harsh critic of US policies in the region, called on Saturday for an international trial of US President George W. Bush, saying his administration posed a threat to world peace.
Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah issued the call over a document allegedly leaked to London’s Daily Mirror tabloid. The newspaper claimed the document was a transcript of a meeting in April 2004 between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which the US leader spoke of attacking Al-Jazeera television headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The newspaper, which cited unidentified sources, said Blair argued against an attack.
The newspaper quoted its sources as disagreeing about whether Bush’s alleged comment was a joke or was meant seriously. The White House, which has accused Al-Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for al-Qaida, has dismissed news reports about the conversation as “outlandish and inconceivable.”
Earlier this week, British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith warned editors they could face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for disclosing the contents of the document. In a statement faxed to the Associated Press in Beirut, Fadlallah said the incident “represents a glaring example of the real US attitude toward the issue of press freedom.”
“It is an irrefutable condemnation of Bush and another scandal adding to the scandals of this (US) administration which knows only the language of power and does not have anything to face the truth except by terrorism, killings and destruction,” the cleric said.
Fadlallah, the top religious authority for Lebanon’s 1.2 million Shiites, said the document also exposed Bush’s “false claim” about seeking to spread democracy and freedom in the Middle East.
Saying that the Bush administration posed “a threat to world peace and freedom” as well as to relations between the West and the Islamic world, Fadlallah called “on all wise voices in the West, particularly the European Union, to act quickly to demand an international trial of the US president.”
Also Saturday, the Islamic Action Front, Jordan’s largest Muslim opposition group, issued a statement denouncing the alleged conversation.
“Such actions underline US intentions to commit heinous crimes against Arab and Muslim people in a hidden manner and away from the world’s attention and outside public purview,” the statement said.
Saddam’s Prime Minister Dies in US Custody
BAGHDAD (December 5, 2005) — Former Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi, who was one of Saddam Hussein’s most senior deputies in the early 1990s, died in US detention last week, the US military said on Monday.
Zubaidi, on the US military’s list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis during the war, died at a US military hospital on Dec. 2, said Lieutenant Colonel Guy Rudisill, spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq.
The US military issued a statement about the death of an individual on Saturday, but did not refer to Zubaidi by name. “A 67-year-old male security detainee was pronounced dead by the attending physician at the 344th Corps support hospital at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 2,” is all that statement said.
His identity only became clear when Saddam’s half-brother, a co-defendant in a trial for crimes against humanity, revealed Zubaidi’s death during a courtroom complaint on Monday about what he said were poor medical facilities for detainees.
It is not clear what Zubaidi died of or where he was being held before being taken to the hospital for treatment. As a high-profile prisoner, it is likely that he was being held at Camp Cropper, a small prison near Baghdad airport where Saddam and other major prisoners are also believed to be held.
Zubaidi was the commander of the middle Euphrates region ahead of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He was named prime minister in 1991, following Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War, but relieved of the post two years later. He was later a deputy prime minister.
After the Gulf War, when Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim majority rose up against Saddam, Zubaidi, himself a Shi’ite, was credited with having put down the revolt, when thousands of Shi’ite Muslims were killed by the government’s security forces.
During the trial of Saddam in Baghdad on Monday, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother and one of the eight defendants, referred to Zubaidi’s death. Barzan told the judge he himself was suffering from cancer and was not receiving proper medical treatment. He said he did not want to end up like Zubaidi and five other senior members of the former regime who he said had died in custody.
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