- The Washington Times - Friday, June 11, 2004

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said yesterday that he plans to resurrect domestic-intelligence services to combat the country’s persistent lawlessness and violence.

He also said ministers in his interim government, appointed June 1, also were considering bringing back the death penalty to combat “the evil forces trying to spread their poison and damage Iraqi society.”

“We need to reconstitute or build an internal security apparatus similar to [Britain’s] MI5 or the FBI, which has power of interrogation and detention,” Mr. Allawi told The Washington Times at a reception honoring Iraqi women.

His comments came amid continuing violence, with Shi’ite gunmen ransacking an Iraqi police station in Najaf and a clash between American soldiers and Shi’ite militants in Baghdad, in which at least one Iraqi was killed.

Mr. Allawi, a one-time member of Iraq’s Ba’ath Party turned CIA-backed Iraqi opponent of Saddam Hussein’s regime, said his interim government has taken steps to build an Iraqi intelligence service and plans to build an antiterrorism unit as well.

Mr. Allawi, who spent 22 years in exile organizing former members of the Ba’ath Party to fight Saddam, outlined his vision for a democratic, federal government allied closely with the United States on foreign-policy matters.

He downplayed reports of rifts between Iraq’s Kurds and Shi’ite Arabs over the structure and composition of Iraq’s government.

“All Iraqis of the various constituencies feel insecure one way or another,” he said. “I think it is the role of the new government of Iraq really to play a significant role in insuring all sections of the new Iraq that this is a new Iraq, where all constituencies are going to be respected.”

Mr. Allawi emerged as the favorite of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, which nominated him for prime minister and then dissolved itself, and now leads a Cabinet that must prepare for elections by January to seat a new Iraqi government.

Mr. Allawi deftly worked the crowd at the party at the riverfront home of Bakhtiar Amin, the new minister of human rights.

Cameras and lights of Arab television networks trained on him as he greeted the men and women with kisses.

He vowed that his government would safeguard women’s rights and stressed repeatedly that the country’s security issues were paramount on his agenda.

Mr. Allawi long has said he planned to reconstitute five divisions of the old Iraqi army.

He said he hoped to welcome armed tribesman and former members of militia groups into the ranks.

He also said he would reintegrate 40 percent to 55 percent of the old Iraqi army — which was dissolved in a proclamation by L. Paul Bremer, chief administrator of the U.S.-led coalition, in May 2003 — into a new armed forces.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Allawi condemned saboteurs attacking Iraq’s energy infrastructure.

He said more than 130 attacks on the oil industry in the past seven months had cost Iraqis $200 million in revenues.

“Anyone involved in these attacks is nothing more than a traitor to the cause of Iraq’s freedom and the freedom of its people,” he said.

Iraq’s persistent security woes have hampered reconstruction efforts. Baghdad still is without electricity for about 12 hours a day.

Power and fuel shortages have frayed nerves and soured many on the U.S.-led occupation, while attacks on foreigners working to rebuild infrastructure have scared off contractors and sent the costs of doing business in Iraq skyrocketing.

“Even if [the saboteurs] had problems with us they can come and kill us, assassinate us,” Mr. Allawi said last night.

“They’re harming the ordinary man on the street. They’re harming people, they’re harming families. They’re harming the infrastructure of Iraq,” he said.

In an interview this week, interim Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan, suggested re-establishing the death penalty as a way to deter criminals and terrorists. Mr. Bremer, who will formally turn over control of Iraq to the new government on June 30, has outlawed capital punishment.

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