- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2003

BAGHDAD — A contractor supplying kitchen staff and secretaries for the Al Rasheed Hotel, the scene of yesterday’s rocket attacks, was allied to Saddam Hussein’s security services and might have been providing intelligence to the anti-U.S. resistance, an Iraqi informant said yesterday.

The hotel is one of the most sensitive sites in Baghdad, serving as office and residence to top coalition officials as well as many members of the Iraqi Governing Council.

Resistance fighters fired a barrage of rockets into the hotel yesterday, killing an American colonel and wounding 17 persons. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who was staying at the hotel, was unhurt.

The informant, who works with the newly trained Iraqi police, detailed his charges about a fifth column in the hotel kitchen in a letter to U.S. coalition officials almost two months ago but appears to have been ignored.

The Washington Times turned over another copy of the letter to a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division yesterday and was told it would be investigated.

The informant, who identifies himself fully in his letter but declined to have his name published, focuses his charges on Muslel Muhammed Farhan Al-Dilemi, 53, the manager of the Al-Tamoor Trading Co. which provides services to the hotel.

Mr. Al-Dilemi “used to meet with [Saddams] heads of security, intelligence and … most of the Ba’ath Party officials,” the Sept. 2 letter says, adding that the walls of his office are decorated with photographs of him posing with top Ba’athist officials.

The letter says Mr. Al-Dilemi placed several people with jobs in the hotel kitchen and staffed the hotel with a number of “beautiful secretaries” for whom he arranged sexual liaisons.

“His people are the ones who get the hotel kitchen food … and he gets half of what they get on a daily basis,” said the letter, implying that Mr. Al-Dilemi was running a food-smuggling racket.

It added: “He already knows which the important floors are — such as floors 8, 9, 10 and 13 — and also that most of the Governing Council people live at the hotel.”

Mr. Wolfowitz is reported to have been sleeping in a room on the 13th floor when the rockets struck early yesterday.

The letter claims that members of the hotel management are in league with Mr. Al-Dilemi. A hotel manager — named in the report — ensured Mr. Al-Dilemi got the best contracts from the hotel during the Saddam era and is still working there, the letter says.

“Who knows what information is being passed to the [pro-Saddam resistance] fighters?” the informant said yesterday, suggesting that the most recent attack might have been avoided if he had been taken seriously.

“It’s obvious that only an insider could have told the attackers that Mr. Wolfowitz was in the hotel, and that he was on the 13th floor,” the informant concluded.

That was disputed by Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey of the 1st Armored Division, Baghdad’s effective military commander.

He told reporters he believed the attack had been planned for two months and that the rockets had missed their targets because of an inaccurate propulsion system.

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