325. Telegram From the Interests Section in Baghdad to the Department of State1

19. Subj: Terrorism in Northern Iraq.

1. USINT source has confirmed the story currently circulating in Baghdad diplomatic community that Governor of Sulaimaniya was recently assassinated.2 According to source, Governor had refused to accept normal security protection and was killed in his automobile by gunmen on motorcycles. Assassination took place shortly after Christmas.

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2. GOI believes assassination was retaliation for execution of a group of Kurdish intellectuals. (76 Baghdad 1815)3 As Governor of the province, the assassinated man was formally responsible for ordering the executions.

3. Source said that this group of Kurds was not associated with Talabani and are probably not receiving Syrian support. They are separate group of well educated Kurds who resent the arrogance of lower level Baath Party and police officials, who all too often treat the Kurds as if they were citizens of an occupied country.

4. Source said that assassinations are currently taking place at a rate of one per week. Most of the victims are soldiers or policemen who do not take proper security precautions. In most cases, the assassination squads are under the control of Jalal Talabani and have been trained and armed by the Syrian regime.

5. Source also confirmed that three Poles working in the Darbandi Khan area were kidnapped by Kurds. GOI obtained their release by paying a ransom. In addition, a Frenchman traveling in the north was robbed and a group of Swedish telephone technicians working in the north were harassed by Kurdish irregulars.

6. Comment: While GOI still has effective control of northern Iraq, Kurdish terrorism is serious enough to create anxiety in Baghdad. Fact that GOI is now sending high-level delegations of pro-government Kurds to Europe and the United States to meet with Kurdish exiles (76 Baghdad 1938)4 is evidence of GOI’s concern.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D770002–1254. Secret. Repeated to Ankara, Damascus, Kuwait, London, Moscow, and Tehran.
  2. In telegram 33 from Baghdad, January 8, the Interests Section corrected this report to read that the Deputy Governor had been assassinated. (Ibid., D770008–0307)
  3. Document 322.
  4. According to telegram 1938 from Baghdad, December 31, the Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol advised the Interests Section that a group of Iraqi officials intended to visit the United States in January and meet with U.S.-based Kurds, to inform them of the measures taken by the Iraqi Government with respect to the autonomous Kurdish region. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number])