Iraqi Spies and the Voodoo Secret

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Media reports on the Pentagon's five-volume translation of truckloads of Saddam Hussein- era documents tended to skim the surface, picking the highlights and the obvious, such as the absence of evidence of an "operational relationship" between Hussein and al-Qaeda.

"By the middle of Volume 5" of the tome prepared for the military's Joint Forces Command, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists tells us, "most people will have entered an altered state of consciousness." But not the eagle-eyed folks over at the federation, who sifted through the review and came up with a stunner.

It's in a 50-page analysis by Iraq's crack military intelligence crew that "disparages the austerely conservative Wahhabi school of Islam by claiming that its eighteenth century founder, Ibn 'Abd al Wahhab, had ancestors who were Jews," the FAS reported.

Talk about burying the lead! Who cares about warmed-over stuff about Saddam and Osama? Now, this is news.

The shocking Iraqi analysis says that Ibn 'Abd al Wahhab's grandfather's true name was not "Sulayman" but "Shulman." (Of course! The Saudi Shulmans! ) "Tawran," a source often cited by Iraqi intelligence in the reports as an expert, "confirms that Sulayman, the grandfather of the sheikh, is (Shulman); he is Jew from the merchants of the city of Burstah in Turkey, he had left it and settled in Damascus, grew his beard, and wore the Muslim turban, but was thrown out for being voodoo," the Iraqi document says, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency translation.

The FAS said the analysis by the Air Defense Security System of Iraq's General Military Intelligence Directorate was "not a very reliable guide to Islamic or Jewish history, though it may explain something about Iraq's air defenses." Indeed.

Not Quite Ignored

News reports of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's two-day visit to Brazil and Chile earlier this month speculated that she deliberately avoided Argentina because of that country's growing ties to Venezuela's president, Hugo Ch¿vez.

A quick look at the map shows it wouldn't have been too hard for Rice to pop in and visit President Cristina Fern¿ndez de Kirchner, Argentina's first elected female leader, so it appeared to some observers as a snub.

Anti-U.S. protests during President Bush' s 2005 visit frayed relations, and more recently there was the flap over some curious campaign donations to Fern¿ndez de Kirchner, which American prosecutors say came from Venezuela's government. Even worse, she was recently in Caracas, nailing down a big oil deal.

State Department officials insist that Rice had only a few days for the trip and couldn't squeeze in Buenos Aires. Besides, it should be noted that the department dispatched Olympic figure-skating medalist Michelle Kwan down there right after Rice's non-snub "to begin her third tour as a State Department Public Diplomacy Envoy."

Kwan's trip, we're told, followed "highly successful envoy visits to China and Russia in 2007."

Okay, so ice skating may not exactly be Argentina's national pastime, but Kwan probably got a warmer greeting than Rice would have.

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