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Who’s killing Iraqi intellectuals?

Published Dec 3, 2005 9:29 PM

Iraqis opposed to the U.S. occupation believe there is a systematic campaign of targeted assassinations aimed at Iraqi intellectuals and that a well-organized enemy intent on keeping Iraq weak and susceptible to foreign occupation is carrying out the killings.

The Monitoring Net for Human Rights in Iraq recently reported Iraqi police figures demonstrating that well over 1,000 Iraqi academics and scientists have been shot to death since the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion. The U.S. State Depart ment has confirmed that hundreds of university professors have been killed.

The shooting of peaceful academics clearly differentiates these killings from those attributable to the Iraqi resistance’s effort to defend its homeland. The popular insurgency has primarily targeted U.S. and British forces along with Iraqi military and police personnel who cooperate with the occupation.

Whoever is responsible for the assassination of academics must also have access to sophisticated intelligence techniques that allow for the widespread targeting of a particular grouping of civilians.

The attacks on Iraqi intellectuals first began when U.S. forces purged at least 15,500 researchers, scientists, teachers and professors for alleged ties to the Baath Party. The dismissal, and subsequent emigration, of so many leading professionals contributed to a destabilized Iraq and provided the occupiers with an excuse for staying in the country.

An article in the [London] Times Higher Education Supplement (Sept. 15, 2004) points out that “there is a widespread feeling among the Iraqi academics that they are witnessing a deliberate attempt to destroy intellectual life in Iraq.”

The cold-blooded nature of the assassinations leaves many wondering exactly who is responsible for this ongoing campaign. The Iraqi resistance denies it is responsible, and those interested in liberating Iraq from the occupation have no motive to carry out such wide-scale killings.

Osama Abed Al-Majeed, the president of the Department for Research and Development at the Iraqi Ministry for Higher Education, has accused the Israeli secret service, Mossad, of perpetuating the violence against Iraqi scientists. A June 2005 report by the Palestine Information Center claims that Mossad, in cooperation with U.S. military forces, was responsible for the assassination of 530 Iraqi scientists and professors in the seven months prior to the report’s publication.

Mossad unquestionably has the motive and means to assassinate leading Iraqi intel lectuals. The Israeli intelligence agency contains a Special Operations Division called Metsada which is tasked with conducting assassinations, sabotage and paramilitary projects. Israel has a long history of interference in Iraq, going back to the 1981 bombing of a nuclear energy plant that stood 15 miles outside Baghdad that just before that attack had voluntarily undergone inspection by the Inter national Atomic Energy Agency.

Regardless of who is responsible for the killing of Iraqi scientists and academics, it is clear that the U.S. and Britain, as the leading occupying powers, have the responsibility for the precarious situation in which these intellectuals are forced to live.

Dr. Saad Jawad is a university professor who was known to speak out against certain Baathist policies. But he recently said, “To tell the truth, in the time of Saddam Hussein, we used to speak to our students freely.… But now, a lot of people are not willing to say these kinds of things because of fear.”