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To catch a thief

Iraq's intelligence service is dominated by ex-Ba'athists. Are they loyal to the regime?

By Dean Godson   May 2005

“Set a thief to catch a thief” has been one of the guiding principles of American and British efforts to defeat the insurgency in Iraq. Far from being pariahs in the new democratic Iraq, ex-Ba’athists constitute the backbone of the reformed Iraqi intelligence service’s efforts to face down “FREs”—”Former Regime Elements,” to use US military jargon. Some 9,000 servants of the ancien régime have been recalled to the various intelligence branches since the US pro-consul, Paul Bremer, reversed course last April 2004 and announced that the policy of “de-Ba’athification” had been “poorly implemented.” In other words, the good FREs were…

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