Global Policy Forum

Gunman Says He Killed UN Staffers in Baghdad Because of Genocide in Iraq


By Farouk Choukri and Kamal Taha

Agence France Presse
June 28, 2000

The gunman who shot dead two UN employees and wounded seven others in Baghdad said afterwards he wanted to draw attention to the "genocide of thousands of Iraqis".

Fuad Hussein Haidar, 38, burst into the offices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and threatened to blow up the building.

"The embargo and genocide of thousands of Iraqis pushed me to carry out this attack," the gunman, car mechanic Fuad Hussein Haidar, told a press conference at a police station after his surrender. "If I hadn't carried out my mission today, there would be a million Fuads who would do exactly the same thing. That's why I have no regrets," said the 38-year-old car mechanic, who was handcuffed. "I wanted the voice of an entire people dying every day because of the embargo to be heard. People abroad are eating and drinking without looking at the suffering of the Iraqis," he said.

Haidar said he knew he would be tried and executed for the murders but insisted he was sound of mind, adding that he had in the past planned to attack UN arms inspection chiefs.

The assailant burst into the FAO armed with an assault rifle and explosives, said Manoel de Almeida e Silva, deputy UN spokesman in New York. "He took the entire staff hostage and threatened to blow up the building unless his demands were met." The Sudanese head of the Baghdad offices, Amir Khalil, said his deputy, Yusuf Abdullah from Somalia, and an Iraqi employee were shot dead. Three of the seven wounded were Iraqi security guards.

"The incident lasted around two hours before the gunman surrendered to Iraqi security officers," another UN source said. An FAO spokesman said: "The attacker demanded the lifting of sanctions, the building of a monument symbolising the suffering of the Iraqi people under embargo and an improvement of the (UN) foodbasket offered to Iraqis." The gunman also demanded a plane to fly him to Amman, the spokesman said. He jotted down his demands and handed them to a gardener after bursting into the building and opening fire with a Kalashnikov rifle.

Haidar said he chose the headquarters of the FAO "because lots of foreigners work there and so there was a considerable chance my demands would be met." "I turned up at the headquarters of the organisation with my Kalashnikov hidden in a suitcase and handed in a piece of paper at the reception on which I had written my demands," he said. "In my message I demanded that an air link be established between Baghdad and Amman for humanitarian reasons, an increase in the food rations for Iraqis, the granting of compensation to the people suffering from the embargo and an end to the almost-daily raids carried out by the Americans and the British," he said.

He said he had wanted to take the number one official of the organisation hostage, but found out after entering the premises that he was travelling. He forced his way "into the building after the FAO security services categorically refused entry, but opened fire towards to defend myself and there was an exchange of fire," he said. "I gave myself up when I realised that I was surrounded and that (my hostage) was not worth a lot," he added, referring to Ammar Korki, a Nepalese adviser to the UN, who he held hostage for two hours before surrendering.

In January 1999, Baghdad asked the United Nations to withdraw US and British nationals among its humanitarian staff, warning it could not guarantee their security, a month after the two Western allies waged an air war on Iraq. The FAO, which employs around 40 staffers in Baghdad and whose office is located in the southern district of Jadriya, operates an aid programme in northern Iraq under the UN oil-for-food scheme as well as a regular country programme.

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