- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

KUWAIT CITY The United States praised Kuwait yesterday for detaining a Kuwaiti soldier on charges of spying for Iraq and said the arrest proved that Saddam Hussein remained a threat to Iraq's oil-rich southern neighbor.
A well-connected Kuwaiti newspaper reported this weekend that the accused spy, Sgt. Mohammed Hamad al-Juwayed of the Kuwaiti national guard, was working on plans to poison a large number of American soldiers, as well as assassinate Kuwaiti politicians and blow up oil and power facilities.
"We commend them for their work," U.S. Embassy spokesman John Moran said. "This arrest shows that Saddam Hussein continues to harbor aggressive intentions toward Kuwait."
The Kuwaiti Cabinet said in a statement yesterday that the "terrorist and sabotage" plans uncovered by Sgt. al-Juwayed's arrest are proof of the "aggressive nature of the Iraqi regime" and its "evil intents" against Kuwait.
Kuwait, which was invaded by Iraq on Aug. 2, 1990, and liberated by U.S. forces seven months later, will play a crucial role in any U.S.-led war against Baghdad because of its location on the Persian Gulf at Iraq's southern border.
More than 17,000 U.S. troops have been dispatched here, and tens of thousands more are expected in anticipation of a war.
The Interior Ministry announced Sgt. al-Juwayed's arrest Friday, saying he gave military information to Iraq and spied on senior Kuwaiti officials "with the intent of facilitating terrorist and sabotage operations."
"We know his family. We know some of his relatives here in Kuwait. We've been shocked about what we heard regarding this guy," said Khaled al-Jarallah, undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry.
Few Kuwaitis were convicted of collaborating with Iraqi forces during their seven-month occupation of the emirate. The accusations against Sgt. al-Juwayed, 40, have startled many Kuwaitis.
Sgt. al-Juwayed's house in Kuwait City was empty yesterday, his wife and two children having gone elsewhere. Neighbors expressed dismay at the news of his arrest, saying the sergeant had little contact with them beyond smiling and saying hello.
They said he lived in the house like most Kuwaiti homes, a large and comfortable dwelling since 1985 and gave no indication he was a spy.
"This entire neighborhood is in shock. Nobody expected this," said neighbor Majed al-Sawagh.
Mr. al-Jarallah, of the Foreign Ministry, said that on several occasions Kuwaiti security agents followed Sgt. al-Juwayed to the United Arab Emirates, where he was accused of having passed information to Iraqi agents.
Al-Watan, an independent paper known to have reliable contacts in the Interior Ministry, said Sgt. al-Juwayed was involved in a plot to kill "a large number of [U.S.] soldiers through poisoning their food."
The paper said the Iraqis asked Sgt. al-Juwayed, a food supervisor in the military, to provide information about the catering companies employed by the American forces in Kuwait.
Last month, more than 250 American military personnel suffered food poisoning at a camp south of Kuwait City. The U.S. military concluded that the outbreak was an isolated case of salmonella poisoning caused by unsanitary conditions.
U.S. officials said they would not comment on details of the Kuwaiti investigation of Sgt. al-Juwayed. Kuwaiti officials, too, refused to comment on the report about food poisoning.
Officials also declined to comment on a report by the Arab Times newspaper yesterday that said authorities still were looking for two men, a Yemeni and a Syrian, suspected of aiding Sgt. al-Juwayed.
Local newspapers report that Sgt. al-Juwayed's mother is Iraqi, an assertion confirmed by his neighbors.
Kuwait is home to an estimated 10,000 Iraqis, many of whom have fled to Kuwait to avoid Saddam's persecution.


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