Iraq may execute MP for Israel visit

Sep. 22, 2008
AP and herb keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST 
First his two sons were murdered. Now he faces prosecution. The reason for 
Mithal al-Alusi's troubles? Visiting Israel and advocating peace with the 
Jewish state - something Iraq's leaders refuse to consider. 

The Iraqi is at the center of a political storm after his fellow lawmakers 
voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his immunity and allow his prosecution for 
visiting Israel - a crime punishable by death under a 1950s-era law. Such a 
fate is unlikely for al-Alusi, though he may lose his party's sole seat in 

Because he had visited Israel, many Iraqis assume the maverick legislator was 
the real target of the assassins who killed his sons in 2005 while he escaped 

Now he is in trouble for again visiting Israel and attending a conference a 
week ago at the International Institute for Counterterrorism. 

"He wasn't set to speak, but he was in the audience and conversed with a 
lecturer on a panel about insurgency and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and 
Israel," said conference organizer Eitan Azani. "We didn't invite him. He came 
on his own initiative." 

Al-Alusi has a German passport, allowing him to travel without visa 
restrictions imposed on other Iraqis. Lawmakers accused him of humiliating the 
nation with a trip to the "enemy" state. 

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called the reaction to 
al-Arusi's visit "very distressing" and said it was sad this was the response 
to someone who merely visited Israel and was interested in a dialogue with it. 

"It is very unfortunate that the reaction was so violent and aggressive," he 
said. "It adds nothing." 

Palmor said Israel was appreciative of al-Alusi's "courage," and that the 
reactions to his visit were an example of the extremism that was plaguing that 
country and leading to so much bloodshed there. 

The uproar shows how far Iraq has moved from the early US goal of creating a 
democracy that would make peace with Israel and remove a critical force from 
the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

The US Embassy declined comment. "It is an issue for the Iraqi parliament, not 
the US Mission to Iraq," said spokesman Armand Cucciniello. 

"What has happened was a catastrophe for democracy," Al-Alusi told The 
Associated Press in an interview in his Baghdad home. "Within an hour's time, 
the parliament became the policeman, the investigator, the judge, the 
government and the law. It was a sham trial." 

Al-Alusi said he went to Israel to seek international support for Iraq as it 
struggles against terrorism, and insisted that the outcry reflected Iranian 
meddling in Iraq's internal affairs - an accusation often leveled by Sunnis 
like himself against Iraq's mostly Shi'ite neighbor. 

"Iran is behind Hamas and Hizbullah and many other terrorist organizations. 
Israelis are suffering like me, like my people. So we need to be together," he 
said. "Peace will have more of a chance." 

Iraq sent troops to three Arab wars against Israel, and fired Scud missiles at 
it in the 1991 Gulf War. It remains technically at war with the Jewish state. 
Iraq's once-thriving Jewish community has shriveled to just a few people, most 
having fled after Israel was established in 1948.


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