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Iraq defence minister asks for budget to pay informers

by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Dec 12, 2009
Iraqi Defence Minister Abdel Qader Obeidi on Saturday asked parliament for funds to recruit informers, saying that the authorities lacked sufficient information on insurgents.

"Our intelligence services desperately lack information since their budget is so small, and the law states that in order to pay an informer they first have to give his full name and his sources," Obeidi told MPs.

The minister was testifying to parliament after coordinated explosions in the capital on Tuesday killed 127 people, in the wake of bloody bombings which also struck the city on August 19 and October 25, costing around 250 lives.

"When someone comes to tell me about a bomb factory or booby-trapped cars I can't pay him," Obeidi said in excerpts of his testimony broadcast later on Iraqi television.

"Parliament must allocate the prime minister and security forces a budget allowing them to pay between five million and 50 million dinars (4,200 to 42,000 dollars) to those who report information on terrorist activities, and especially to be able to protect informers and their sources," he said.

Obeidi, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waili and Baghdad's former military chief Lieutenant General Abboud Qanbar all briefed MPs on Saturday.

The defence minister also proposed grouping all retailers of car parts and electrical items inside one industrial zone monitored by the security services.

"Today there is no control over this type of operation, and we know that for Tuesday's attacks the explosives and vehicles were prepared near the sites where the bombs went off," Obeidi said.

He also said there was a problem with making arrests in troubled areas because of "a network of terrorists whose task is to free their friends from jail using either corruption or threats.

"They intervene to remove evidence, and when we arrest a suspect in the act of placing explosives, the network arranges for him to be charged only with possessing weapons, a crime carrying a penalty of just three months in prison."

Obeidi proposed establishing in areas considered to be high risk special anti-terrorist courts presided over by judges from different regions who were given the best possible protection.

He also told MPs that the military had recently located 440 bombs and anti-tank charges of Russian manufacture, and that they originated in Syria.

"We must put an end to this kind of problem by signing security accords with our neighbours," he said.

Obeidi, Bolani, Waili and Qanbar -- who was sacked as Baghdad security chief by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after Tuesday's attacks that were claimed by an Al-Qaeda-linked group -- will continue giving testimony to MPs on Sunday.

In a question-and-answer session with MPs on Thursday, Maliki accused rivals of stoking political rows which had put the country's security at risk, and added that Iraq's security forces needed to be de-politicised.

Earlier on Saturday, an MP quoted Obeidi as saying officials received "clear intelligence" before each of the three massive attacks to hit Baghdad since August but failed to act on it.

"There was clear intelligence information about the three bloody explosions in Baghdad, but those responsible did not take the required measures to stop the explosions," Shiite MP Iman al-Asadi quoted him as saying.

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Seven killed in Iraq attacks
Baghdad (AFP) Dec 11, 2009
Seven people, including three policemen and two soldiers, were killed by attacks in and around Baghdad on Friday, an Iraqi interior ministry official said. In the deadliest attack, six people were killed by a car bomb at around 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) in the town of Yusufiyah, 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the capital, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Among the dead ... read more

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