Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahwani
|Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahwani
محمد عبد الله الشهواني
|Director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service|
April 2004 – August 2009
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Zuheir Fadel Abbas al-Ghirbawi|
April 4, 1938 |
Mosul, Kingdom of Iraq
|Years of service||1955 - 1989|
|Battles/wars||Yom Kippur War
Early life and military service
Al-Shahwani is a Sunni Turkoman born in either Mosul or Kirkuk and began his career as an international athlete; in 1963 he competed in a decathlon in Jakarta, Indonesia where he won a gold medal. In 1967 he was sent by Iraq to the U.S. Army Ranger School, and in the 1980s he was promoted to head of the Iraqi Special Forces School. During the first half of the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) al-Shahwani was a Brigadier General in charge of a Republican Guard helicopter unit. He made a name for himself by retaking Kardamand mountain in Iraqi Kurdistan from an entrenched Iranian force that numbered in the thousands in an air assault; because of this President Saddam Hussein viewed him as a potential threat and subsequently placed him under the surveillance of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in 1984. He was finally arrested and interrogated in 1989, so in May 1990 al-Shahwani decided to defect to London.
In the fall of 1994 al-Shahwani began planning a coup against Saddam Hussein with the support of his three sons then serving in the Republican Guard. Al-Shahwani also brought in Iraqi National Accord leader Iyad Allawi, who in turn informed MI6, and consequently the CIA. The CIA directed coup was foiled by Iraqi security in June 1996, and while al-Shahwani was able to escape, hundreds of Iraqi officers, including his sons, were arrested. His sons and 82 other operatives were later executed.
Between 1996 and 2003 Al-Shahwani continued building an opposition network in Iraq with the help of the CIA, and although a planned military uprising was vetoed by the Pentagaon, al-Shahwani used his influence to try and convince Iraqi security forces not to resist the American led invasion. He himself participated in covert American missions in western Iraq in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
After the initial invasion the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer, released Order 69, which established the charter for a new Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS). Al-Shahwani was appointed as its first director. He resigned in August 2009, which according to the Washington Post was due to disagreements with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over Iranian influence in Iraq, and was replaced by General Zuheir Fadel. According to the Iraqi paper Al-Zaman, Shahwani had presented evidence linking Iran to a series of attacks in Iraq including the 19 August 2009 Baghdad bombings, and left when Iraqi leadership refused to publicly implicate Iran in the bombings. Several days later the Iranian mission to the United Nations sent a letter of protest to the Washington Post over the previous article, claiming that Shahwani's statements about Iranian involvement were baseless.
- Ignatius, David (2007-01-14). "A Sectarian Spy Duel In Baghdad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- Hiro, Dilip. Neighbors, Not Friends: Iraq and Iran After the Gulf Wars. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-25411-6 p. 102.
- McGeary, Johanna (2004-07-06). "Taking Back The Streets". TIME. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- Hiro says that 120 were arrested (p. 106), while David Ignatius claims the number is over 200 (Ignatius, David. "The CIA And the Coup That Wasn't". The Washington Post, May 16, 2003.)
- Ignatius, David (2009-08-25). "Behind the Carnage in Baghdad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- "Intelligence Report: Iran Financing Al-Qaeda in Iraq". Al-Zaman (MEMRI). 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- "INTELLIGENCE REPORT: Soleimani, mastermind of the attacks in Baghdad". Al-Zaman (azzaman.com). 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
- "Iran UN mission rejects Washington Post allegations". Iranian Students News Agency. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2009-09-02.