Iraqi security and paramilitary forces are a key tool in Iraq’s efforts to use force to put pressure on its Gulf neighbors and the West. Iraq has long manipulated extremist groups and movements to serve its ambitions and ideological goals. Like other radical Middle Eastern states, Iraq has found such exploitation to be a cheap and an effective substitute for overt political and military action. Such activities allow Iraq to partially decouple its actions from public responsibility, and to suddenly shift support from one group to another and disavow a given group at will.
Reporting by the US State Department indicates that Iraq continues to provide haven and training facilities for several terrorist clients. Abu Abbas’ Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) maintains its headquarters in Baghdad. The Abu Nidal organization (ANO) also has an office in Baghdad. The Arab Liberation Front (ALF), headquartered in Baghdad, continues to receive funding from Saddam’s regime. Iraq provides a home for the former head of the now-defunct 15 May organization, Abu Ibrahim, who masterminded several bombings of US aircraft. It allows the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK)—a terrorist group of Iranian exiles opposed to the current Iranian regime—to maintain a base in Iraq and to carry out several violent attacks in Iran from these bases.
Since the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, Iraqi intelligence has concentrated largely on intelligence operations and on the suppression of dissidents inside and outside of Iraq. It does, however, maintain a large special operations component which operates directly out of Iraqi embassies, and through independent overseas ‘‘fronts’’ like airline and purchasing offices. While Iraqi intelligence is deeply concerned with suppressing opposition to the Ba’ath regime, Iraqi intelligence has also been deeply involved in buying arms, in obtaining the technology for weapons of mass destruction, in providing covert support for