Iraq airs confession by al Qaeda member trained in Syria
Iraq aired a confession from a suspected al Qaeda member on Sunday who claimed Syrian intelligence agents trained foreign fighters like himself in a camp before sending them to carry out attacks inside Iraq. The videotaped, aired by Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi in a news conference, was another escalation in the diplomatic dispute between Iraq and Syria over accusations that the latter supports Islamists responsible for violence in Iraq.
Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors last week over this background.
The tape featured a man who called himself Mohammed Hassan al-Shemari, 29, from Saudi Arabia, who was detained in Diyala province on suspicion of being a leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. According to to Reuters, Shemari stated when he arrived in Syria from Saudi Arabia, he was met by another activist who took him to an al Qaeda training camp in Syria. The manager of the camp was a Syrian intelligence agent called Abu al-Qaqaa, he said.
"They taught us lessons in Islamic law and trained us to fight. The camp was well known to Syrian intelligence," he said.
Once inside Iraq he undertook more training in the province of Anbar, bordering Syria. He then met al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Omar al-Baghdadi, who he said appointed him head of al Qaeda in the Diyala province. He launched attacks on police checkpoints in Diyala, abducting Iraqi officers and extorting money for their release or killed them with knives and set up suicide bombings, he said.