Talabani’s ‘black boxes’: President’s bodyguards fear for their lives
Hemin Salih – BasNews (Erbil and Germany): 28.11.2103 – Following the murder of colleague and chief bodyguard Sarwat Hama Rasheed on Nov. 20, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani’s bodyguards fear returning to Kurdistan.
According to a source, who spoke from Berlin on condition of anonymity, three of Talabani’s bodyguards are very close to the president. The men are said to know many of Talabani’s secrets, like Rasheed, who was known as the president’s black box. The source explained that ”the three bodyguards – either together, in pairs, or sometimes alone – accompanied Talabani to every private and secret sitting; they sometimes even delivered verbal messages from Talabani to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and other parties’ leaders.”
The source said that the men are currently in Berlin, where they are guarding Talabani while he recovers from a stroke. However, following the murder of Rasheed, they have become skeptical and distrusting and are unsure as to whether they should return to Kurdistan; particularly if Talabani dies, in which case they would no longer have a job.
“These people are living in an unstable and distrustful atmosphere. All of the bodyguards are concerned about returning, they know that their lives will be in danger,” said the source. According to information acquired by BasNews through members of security in Sulaymaniyah, the incident was not a robbery and the murder had been planned. Rasheed had a scheduled flight to Germany at 6am that day, and the murder took place three hours prior to takeoff. Slemani media claims that three bullets were shot to the bodyguard’s head with a silenced pistol, and the cases were removed from the crime scene. Rasheed’s wife allegedly asked the intruders not to kill them, offering them money and jewelry. Following the murder, she telephoned her brother Omer; before he could make it to the house, Rasheed’s wife had been taken by the Asayish (Kurdish security forces) for investigation, where she remained for several hours.
Brigadier Jalal Shekh Kareem, deputy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Interior Ministry, told BasNews that the killing is not politically motivated and is not related to the on-going interior conflict within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Talabani’s party. According to Kareem, the case is currently under thorough investigation. “The PUK has no hand in the killing,” he added. KRG prime minister Nechirvan Barzani requested that the Interior Minister, Karim Shingari, visit Sulaymaniyah. The main topic at hand was the murder of Rasheed, but security and night shootings were also discussed throughout the visit. Prime Minister Barzani had previously talked of the destabilization of Sulaymaniyah, as a problem that needed to be tackled.