Ahmadinejad says US plotted to kill him

Iranian president's official Web site says changes to his itinerary in Iraq thwarted "enemies'" plan.

Ahmadinejad Iraq 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Ahmadinejad Iraq 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday accused the United States of plotting to kidnap and assassinate him during a visit earlier this year to Iraq, state media reported. Ahmadinejad told a meeting of clerics in the central Iranian city of Qom that Iran's "enemies" planned to kill him when he went to Baghdad in March, according to the president's Web site. Iranian leaders usually use the term "enemies" to refer to Western nations and the United States in particular. Ahmadinejad said the plot was never carried out because of "intentional" last-minute changes in his schedule during the visit, the Web site said. He said the conspirators learned about the changes too late, when he had departed Iraq. He did not elaborate or say how Teheran learned of the alleged plot. A senior Iraqi security official in Baghdad who was involved in Ahmadinejad's visit said the Iranian president had planned to go to the southern Shi'ite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf but these trips were canceled because of fears for his safety. It was not known if these were the changes Ahmadinejad was referring to. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the visit. The report on the presidential Web site did not specify the United States as the source of the plot. But state television reported that Ahmadinejad had "unveiled a shocking story" - that "Americans had intended to kidnap him during his trip to Iraq." Ahmadinejad's trip to Baghdad was the first by an Iranian leader since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, a sign of the close ties between Teheran and the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad. During his visit, Ahmadinejad did not stay in the heavily-fortified Green Zone, where the Iraqi government and US Embassy are centered and where most visiting dignitaries reside. Instead, he staued in a compound that includes the home of President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of Iraq's largest Shi'ite party, both of whom have strong ties to Teheran, the security official said. His security was provided by members of the Shiite Badr Movement, close to al-Hakim, and Kurdish peshmerga fighters, instead of army or police, the official said.