A report in a Kuwaiti newspaper carries grave allegations against a high-level provincial official in one of Iraq's most restive provinces.
The Kuwaiti daily paper al-Jarida writes in Arabic that an investigation conducted "at high levels of secrecy" discovered the alleged links between the deputy governor of the northern province of Ninewa and "assassination gangs" operating in the city of Mosul, the provincial capital.
A so-called "well-placed security source" told al-Jarida that a surprise stunned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has been in Mosul for several days to command the operations there, was "surprised" to learn that Khusro Goran is, according to the unconfirmed report, "linked to criminal gangs that support the al-Qa'ida Organization."
Citing the unnamed "source" the Kuwaiti daily writes that three detainees confessed that they worked in a network that conducted assassinations and bombing attacks specially linked Deputy Governor Guran.
According to the source, the confessions pointed to the involvement of Maj. Ahmad al-Jawari in the network, who worked for a time as the director of the operations room of Mosul. Al-Jawari is presently being arrested, according to the source.
Maliki summoned Goran for immediate interrogation, the source reportedly told the Kuwaiti paper, but the vice governor has disappeared, according to the al-Jarida report, possibly returning to Arbil. Maliki has contacted the president of the Kurdish autonomous zone, Mas'oud al-Barzani, about the matter, al-Jarida says, also citing its unnamed source.
Goran is also the leader of al-Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the city of Mosul.
Goran, according to the report, apparently learned that al-Maliki had refused his participation in the activities of the provincial operations room, after the local commander Col. Jalal Riyad Tawfiq reportedly also obtained information against Goran, which the commander is said to have passed on to the PM.
Al-Jarida also writes that its source said that the PM expressed "remorse" for having "left Ninewa Province under the control of the Pesh Merga during the last five years," referring to the Kurdish militia who operate in some areas of the province, which is not formally part of the Kurdistan autonomous region of Iraq.
The source also indicated that the confessions of the detained criminal gang members indicated that that Goran had encouraged them to contact associates of the al-Qa'ida in Iraq organization, and request financial and logistical support from them.
The Kuwaiti daily also writes that a report from the Iraqi intelligence services, under the command of Abdallah al-Shahwani, reached the Iraqi PM shortly before his arrival in Mosul, which contained "dangerous information" regarding "Goran's role in assassination operations in the city" of Mosul.
The source also said that the gangs confessed to perpetrating the assassination of Shaykh Faydi Faydi, the imam of the most prominent mosque in the Baladiyat district of Mosul, as well as the assassination of the general secretary of the Ba'th party in Mosul, Najm al-Iraqi, and the assassination of Nizar Younis, a former Ba'th party official in the city, along with the killing of several doctors and university professors in Mosul.
IraqSlogger cannot confirm any of the allegations contained in the al-Jarida report.
The allegations seem to be beginning to diffuse through the Iraqi media. Since originally appearing in al-Jarida, the allegations against Goran have also appeared on the Iraqi News Agency, whose editorial line is generally hostile to the post-2003 Iraqi political regime, at the national and provincial levels, which it views as a creation of the US-led Coalition forces that invaded Iraq and deposed the Ba'thist regime.
In considering these unproven allegations, it bears noting that the role of the Kurdish parties in Ninewa Province has been highly controversial in the ethnically charged province. Many Arabs and Turkmen, for example, in the province accuse the two leading Kurdish parties, of which Goran is a representative, of seeking to unilaterally annex parts of Ninewa Province to the Kurdish autonomous zone, and of involvement in ethnic cleansing operations.