A suspected high-ranking operative of the Iraqi intelligence service who is believed to have played a key role in a 1993 plot to assassinate then-US president George Bush was spotted in Syria Tuesday, after arriving from Tunisia, US officials said.
Faruq Hijazi, whose last official post was Saddam Hussein's ambassador to Tunis, flew to Damascus on a commercial jet in an apparent attempt to seek refuge in the country following the toppling of the Iraqi government by US forces, said one of the officials, according to AFP.
"I don't know whether he has been granted refuge or asylum," the official added. The plot, in which Hijazi is believed to have taken an active part, was uncovered by US and Kuwaiti intelligence services in the first half of 1993.
It called for exploding a powerful car bomb during Bush's visit to Kuwait, his first after the country's liberation from Iraqi occupation by a US-led international coalition in 1991.
Following the capture of several key people involved in the plot by Kuwaiti authorities, and an analysis of the bomb, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that the explosives were Iraqi-made and that Saddam's intelligence service was behind the plan.
President Bill Clinton ordered the US Navy to launch 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service in retaliation in late June 1993.
Reports in the US media also indicated that Hijazi met Osama bin Laden in 1994 in Sudan and, later, in Afghanistan. (Albawaba.com)
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