KUWAIT CITY – A Kuwaiti soldier accused of spying for Iraq was working on plans to poison a large number of American soldiers, a well-connected Kuwaiti newspaper reported Saturday.
The alleged spy, Sgt. Mohammed Hamad al-Juwayed of the Kuwaiti National Guards, also was helping Iraqi agents infiltrate the country with the aim of assassinating Kuwaiti politicians and blowing up oil and power facilities, according to the newspaper Al-Watan.
The Interior Ministry announced al-Juwayed's arrest on Friday, saying he "provided security and military information to the Iraqis and spied on movements of senior Kuwaiti officials with the intent of facilitating terrorist and sabotage operations."
The ministry did not mention any attempt to spy on or attack U.S. forces in Kuwait.
But Al-Watan, an independent paper known to have reliable contacts in the Interior Ministry, said the 40-year-old sergeant was involved in a plot to kill "a large number of (U.S.) soldiers through poisoning their food."
Al-Watan said the Iraqis asked al-Juwayed, a food supervisor in the military, to provide information about the catering companies employed by the American forces in Kuwait.
Last month, more than 250 American military personnel suffered food poisoning at a camp south of Kuwait City. The U.S. military concluded the outbreak was an isolated case of salmonella poisoning caused by unsanitary conditions.
"We were shocked that a Kuwaiti national would be connected to the Iraqi regime and its intelligence," Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, the information minister, told the Kuwait News Agency on Saturday. He added the arrest was a "freak case."
Very few Kuwaitis were convicted of collaborating with Iraqi forces during their seven-month occupation of the emirate in 1990-1991. The occupation ended when a U.S.-led coalition evicted the Iraqi army in the Gulf War.
State security had been monitoring al-Juwayed inside and outside Kuwait for almost a year, the daily said. He reportedly had been meeting Iraqi intelligence agents in the United Arab Emirates.
America has deployed more than 17,000 military personnel in Kuwait as part of a buildup for a possible war against Iraq.
In 1993, Iraqi agents were arrested for plotting to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush with a car bomb during a visit to Kuwait.