BAGHDAD (AFP) – A cousin of Iraq’s toppled leader Saddam Hussein who was arrested last month worked to unite rebel organisations and controlled billions of dollars used to finance the insurgency, the government said.
Ezzedin “al-Majid was involved in the process of uniting the terror groups Ansar al-Sunna, Mohammed’s Army and the Islamic Resistance Army,” Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s spokesman Thaer al-Naqib said in a statement.
Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for a recent deadly attack on a US base in Mosul, along with a string of bloody attacks and kidnappings.
The two other organisations have also carried out scores of attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces.
Ezzedin al-Majid al-Tikriti, a 44-year-old former Republican Guard officer, is a cousin of Saddam and a nephew of Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali.
An investigation carried out since his arrest in early December showed that he held some 35 million dollars on personal bank accounts or in the name of family members.
“Additional questioning has determined that Majid also controlled as much as a third of the former regime assets missing from the Iraqi government,” the statement said.
“We believe that Majid, through the front companies he controlled in the Middle East and Europe, controlled anywhere from two to seven billion dollars of money stolen by the former regime elements to fund the current terrorist operations,” Naqib said.
The statement added that the recovery of the assets was under way and claimed that Majid’s arrest “dealt a severe blow to the insurgency.”
In 1995, Majid fled to Jordan with his brother-in-law, Hussein Kamel, a general and son-in-law of Saddam, and their families.
In February 1996, the party returned to Iraq, where Majid’s wife and four children were assassinated along with Hussein Kamel and his two brothers. Majid was in Turkey at the time.
In 2000, he obtained refugee status in Britain and divided his time between his home in the northern city of Leeds, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
In 2003, Majid set up the Iraqi National Rescue party and also acted as secretary general of the Iraqi National Salvation Party.