BAGHDAD, Iraq – A Sunni Arab insurgent group was plotting to attack the trial of Saddam Hussein when it resumed Monday, Iraq's national security adviser said Sunday.
The statement by national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie's office said the 1920 Revolution Brigades planned to fire rockets at the court building during Monday's session. Iraqi intelligence uncovered the plot, but the statement did not say whether anyone had been arrested.
Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for the 1982 killing of more than 140 Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail following an assassination attempt against him there. The defendants face the death penalty if convicted.
The trial resumed Nov. 28, with a combative Saddam lashing out at his treatment by American "occupiers and invaders" and lecturing the chief judge about leadership.
It then adjourned until Monday, only 10 days before the country's parliamentary elections, to give the defense time to replace lawyers who have been assassinated since the trial opened Oct. 19.
The slow pace of the proceedings has angered many Iraqis — especially majority Shiites — who believe Saddam should have already been punished for his alleged crimes. Shiites and Kurds were heavily oppressed by Saddam's Sunni Arab-dominated regime.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has joined Saddam's defense team as an advisor, said he and other international lawyers will meet the former leader later in the day to set out a defense strategy.
Clark left Amman, Jordan, for Baghdad early Sunday with Jordanian lawyer Issam Ghazawi and ex-Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-Nueimi. The three are advising Saddam's lead Iraqi lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi.
The meeting with Saddam would be the second in six days.
"It will be our first real meeting where we'll have the chance to discuss the trial," Clark told AP Television News before flying to Baghdad.
"He's being held in total isolation, not seeing any member of his family, any friend, anybody he knew before.
"When we first met him a week ago, Monday, it was very short. It was a social meeting, because he hadn't seen anybody for a long time; you don't feel like talking business.
"So, hopefully we'll have the first opportunity to discuss the charges and the case and how the defense should proceed."