- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2003

FALLUJAH, Iraq — One of the men behind the sophisticated bomb attacks against coalition troops in Iraq is a henchman of Saddam Hussein who received several million dollars’ funding just before the war ended.

Muhammad Khudair al-Dulaimi, the fugitive chief of special operations in Saddam’s intelligence services and an expert in remote-controlled explosives, sabotage and assassination, is directing the lethal resistance campaign, say former Iraqi colleagues.

U.S. military intelligence believes Mr. Khudair is using a network of former mukhabarat, or intelligence service, operatives to supply explosive devices and give instructions on how to lay ambushes. They suspect he was involved in the blast last month in which 1,500 pounds of Soviet-era military munitions devastated the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

An unidentified senior Pentagon official has confirmed that Mr. Khudair, who comes from the anti-American Sunni heartland west of Baghdad, is one of the most important ringleaders in the resistance movement. His name appears on a second, unpublished, list of most-wanted Iraqis who do not appear in the deck of cards of 55 former regime leaders.

Following the deaths of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusai and the capture of his closest aides, Mr. Khudair is said by some former intelligence officials to have become the right-hand man of the former despot.

The revelations about Mr. Khudair became public as the resistance campaign reached a new level yesterday when gunmen attempted to assassinate a member of the country’s Governing Council. Aquila al-Hashimi, a career diplomat and one of three women on the U.S.-appointed 25-member body, was shot in the abdomen.

Shortly before the fall of Baghdad, say former senior mukhabarat officials, Mr. Khudair was handed funds to finance the resistance.

“The sabotage against the oil, water and power installations and the bombings are the work of Saddam’s people, particularly Mr. Khudair,” said a former colleague.

“Mr. Khudair knows he has to fight. He has no choice. The Americans want to get him, and so do millions of Iraqis. He was a nice enough guy when he was younger, but he developed a taste for violence, and he is a real devil now.”

The latest attacks on U.S. forces indicate that the armed opposition is coordinating its campaign more efficiently.

In Khaldiya, near Mr. Khudair’s home territory, a U.S. Army truck was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb, and the soldiers came under heavy fire as they escaped.

In the capital, a powerful explosion Friday night left a gaping crater next to a major highway. In Tikrit, U.S. tanks patrolled the streets following a 12-hour gunbattle that left three Americans dead.

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