Iraq: We're 'the Foremost Victim of Terrorism'

Calling itself "the foremost victim of terrorism," Iraq accused the United States in a report released Tuesday of being a key perpetrator by conducting a campaign of "state terrorism" to topple Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi government used a report to the United Nations on what it is doing to combat terrorism to focus instead on the "terrorists" it says are trained, armed and financed by states to infiltrate the country and attack its leaders, officials and citizens.

In the report, Baghdad singled out the United States which it said "openly spends tens of millions of dollars on troops of mercenaries to carry out terrorist operations against Iraq."

He referred to the Iraq Liberation Act, passed by the U.S. Congress during the Clinton administration in 1998, which authorizes the Pentagon to provide Saddam's opponents with up to dlrs 97 million in arms and military training. U.S. President George W. Bush remains committed to ending Saddam's dictatorial regime and eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"Iraq's charges that we are involved in state-sponsored terrorism are laughable," a U.S. official said Tuesday. "Iraq is a country that's engaged in this kind of activity."

"This is just Saddam Hussein's propaganda... It's another attempt by Iraq to divert attention away from demands by the international community for them to allow weapons inspectors back into the country," the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.N. Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors declare that its weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated, but Iraq has barred inspectors from the country since December 1998.

In the report, Iraq also accused the United States and Britain of illegally enforcing no-fly zones in the north and south of the country, and of using depleted uranium in acts of "terrorism" against civilians since the 1991 Gulf War. The World Health Organization is planning an investigation of Iraqi allegations that depleted uranium in U.S. ammunition caused an increase in birth defects and cancer rates.

Iraq's report was submitted to the Security Council committee monitoring implementation of a resolution adopted Sept. 28 requiring all 189 U.N. member states to take sweeping measures to counter terrorism — from adopting legislation to cutting off funding and improving the exchange of information about terrorist networks.

In contrast to the lengthy reports submitted by many countries, Iraq's was less than two pages. It was submitted before Bush accused Iraq of being part of an "axis of evil" supporting terrorism, along with Iran and North Korea.

Iraq emphasized in its report "that the fight against terrorism requires, first and foremost, agreement on a clear and unambiguous definition of terrorism."

A U.N. General Assembly committee trying to draft a comprehensive treaty against terrorism is currently wrestling with the definition. A major problem in this endeavor is that one nation's terrorists are often another's freedom fighters.

Iraq said any definition must include "state terrorism" and must recognize the right of all peoples to self-determination.

The report said Iraqi law "condemns international terrorism, including state terrorism, and provides severe penalties for the perpetration, financing or backing of such terrorism."

Iraqi laws contain most essential provisions of the dozen international anti-terrorism conventions, the report said. It listed five conventions and one protocol the government has signed or ratified along with a 1998 Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism.

The government said a specialized task force had been created to study other questions in the Sept. 28 resolution and to make recommendations.