“I was trained on explosives, killing, spying, kidnapping … and after one year, I went to Iraq with Fady Abdullah,” Lt. al-Essa said.
He said he infiltrated Iraq in 2001, about two years before the U.S. invasion, because Syrian intelligence was convinced American military action loomed.
Another man, Shawan al-Sabaawi, was identified as a former lieutenant colonel in Saddam Hussein’s army. He said he received training from Syrian intelligence on how to behead hostages.
Lt. al-Essa said the group used animals for training in beheadings. He said it required “at least 10 beheadings” for a member to be promoted to a group leader.
“I had to send a report to Syria about how the operations are going,” he said.
Weapons, explosives and equipment were all provided by Syrian intelligence, Lt. al-Essa said. He added that the group members received $1,500 a month.
International pressure on Syria has grown since the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who died along with 16 others in a massive explosion in Beirut.
The Lebanese opposition blames the killing on the Damascus government and its Syrian backers. Syria has 15,000 soldiers in Lebanon and is under growing international pressure to withdraw.
In Iraq yesterday, terrorists continued attacking civilians.
A car bomb killed two persons and wounded 14 in the northern city of Mosul. Its target was not clear. Witnesses said no U.S. or Iraqi forces were in the area.
A soldier from the U.S. Task Force Liberty was killed when assailants set off the bomb near Tuz, 105 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.
Near the northern oil city of Kirkuk, two Iraqi civilians were killed and another seriously wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the car in which they were traveling, police said.
Back in Mosul, U.S. soldiers fatally shot a civilian in a pickup truck who approached their convoy too closely to pass it, policeman Ahmed Rashid said.
Separately, CBS News reported last night that investigators have decided not to charge a U.S. Marine who was filmed killing a wounded Iraqi during the November assault on Fallujah, citing a lack of evidence.
But a Marine spokesman last night said the case “is still very much open.”View Entire Story
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