Radio was used to incite Kurds, expatriate says

April 06, 1991|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- A Kurdish expatriate in London says he was recruited by Saudi intelligence this year to record broadcasts at a clandestine radio station in which he urged Kurds inside Iraq to overthrow President Saddam Hussein.

The expatriate, Dr. Firiad Hiwaizi, said that he and other Kurdish dissidents delivered speeches over the Voice of Free Iraq in February and March in the belief that a revolt would receive Western assistance.

There have been unconfirmed reports that the station is secretly supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. CIA officials have neither confirmed nor denied the agency's involvement in any covert operation.

Although the United States has called for Mr. Hussein's ouster, President Bush decided not to intervene in the Iraqi civil war.

His decision has drawn sharp criticism from some Democrats and conservative Republicans, who say he abandoned the Kurds after encouraging them to revolt.

Any similar appeals broadcast over a U.S.-supported radio station would bolster the impression that the administration was pressing the Kurds to fight even as it debated whether to come to their aid.

"Our people were asking for years for help, and no one was listening," Dr. Hiwaizi said in an interview from London late Thursday. "This time everyone was telling them the Americans were with them. All the hope was in outside assistance -- the Americans and the allies. Otherwise I would not have asked my friends to rise up. I feel very guilty."

As recently as March 29, according to transcripts of broadcasts provided by the British Broadcasting Corp., the Voice of Free Iraq called for the formation of a "unified field command of all sides of the patriotic opposition movement" to "swoop on the regime of the Saddam Hussein gang and destroy it."

Dr. Hiwaizi said he had no personal knowledge that the Voice of Free Iraq was backed by the United States.

At the time that he made recordings for broadcast, he said, the station, on the outskirts of Jidda, was managed by 40 Iraqi expatriates and protected by armed Saudi guards.

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