Iraqi Insurgent Gives Chilling Confession

U.S. soldiers patrol the scene of a car bombing in Sadr City, a largely Shiite area of Baghdad. Nine people were killed in the attack, Iraqi police said.
U.S. soldiers patrol the scene of a car bombing in Sadr City, a largely Shiite area of Baghdad. Nine people were killed in the attack, Iraqi police said. (By Karim Kadim -- Associated Press)
By Nelson Hernandez and Naseer Nouri
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

BAGHDAD, May 23 -- An alleged agent of the group al-Qaeda in Iraq told a chilling story of hijacking, kidnapping and murder in the name of holy war Tuesday, a day after the Jordanian government announced his arrest in an operation carried out in Iraq.

In a videotaped confession broadcast on Jordanian state television, Ziad Khalaf al-Kerbouly related his deeds without a trace of emotion. Though Jordan's government billed him as a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative arrested in the murder of a Jordanian citizen, Kerbouly's account made him sound more like a simple foot soldier for Iraq's most prominent insurgent organization.

His confession gave a rare glimpse into the mentality of the combatants in a conflict in which at least 40 Iraqis were killed Tuesday, in a string of bombings and shootings that have become routine for everyone except those who have to live with the consequences.

Kerbouly said he was an Iraqi customs agent along the western border with Jordan and was in a position to know who was entering and leaving Iraq, and to kill them if it suited al-Qaeda's purposes. Among his targets was a Jordanian truck driver who, he said, hauled goods to Americans in Iraq.

"His name was Khalid al-Dasouqi," Kerbouly recalled in a flat tone. "He said, 'What will you do?' I said, 'I will kill you.' He started to beg me, 'Please, do not kill me,' and so I said, 'I must kill you.' He kept on begging me, and I pulled my personal pistol and said to him, 'Say your prayers.' He said them as he was begging.

"Immediately I shot him twice in the head. I left him in that spot and he was handcuffed and blindfolded. I made sure that he was dead, put his passport and papers over him and went away."

Dasouqi's brother called him afterward, said Kerbouly, who answered the call and told the brother that Dasouqi was still alive. Then he browsed through Dasouqi's cellphone files. Stumbling across a picture of Dasouqi's four young daughters, he said, "I had a kind of a reaction."

Twenty minutes later, he called the family back. "I told them that we have killed Khalid," he said.

Dasouqi's wife, interviewed separately in the broadcast as one of her daughters wept, suggested that Kerbouly be executed in front of a mosque.

Kerbouly also said he had hijacked trucks, killed four Iraqi soldiers and kidnapped two employees of the Moroccan Embassy in Baghdad, who were killed after he handed them over to his superiors.

Al-Arabiya television, quoting the Jordanian government, said Kerbouly was captured in Iraq by Jordanian intelligence agents, carried across the border and eventually arrested at Queen Alia International Airport near Amman, the capital. It was unclear when he was captured, when the confession was recorded or whether it had been coerced.

The Jordanian government has cooperated extensively with U.S. efforts to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, particularly since the bombing of three hotels last November in Amman, which killed 60 people, plus three bombers. The organization is led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was born in Jordan. U.S. military commanders say that al-Qaeda in Iraq is small but well organized and well financed, and is responsible for many of the car bombings, shootings and kidnappings in Iraq.

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