The ruling party in Iraq warned the U.S. government Sunday that its vital interests around the world would be targets for guerrilla attack if the U.S.-led multinational forces in the Persian Gulf launch a war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.
The government also said that 350 Muslims from around the world will gather in Baghdad six days before the U.N. deadline for an Iraqi withdrawal in a show of support for President Saddam Hussein.
And in a New Year’s message, Hussein compared President Bush to the biblical figure Judas and called Saudi King Fahd--who asked U.S.-led international troops to protect his kingdom--a “traitor” to Muslims.
“In the same way as Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, Bush betrayed the teachings of Jesus through his aggressiveness and penchant toward evil,” Hussein said.
The Iraqi threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. and other installations came in the Al Thawra newspaper, which is the mouthpiece of Iraq’s ruling Baath Socialist Party.
“Hundreds of thousands of volunteers are now at the highest state of readiness to fight against the alliance of evil and aggression,” the daily said.
Iraq’s religious affairs minister, Abdullah Fadil, warned Sunday that Muslims would retaliate against the United States and its allies if Islamic holy shrines are hit in any multinational offensive aimed at driving the Iraqis out of Kuwait.
“Every Muslim will be a missile to be thrown against the enemy once he launches his armed aggression against Iraq,” he told a news conference in Baghdad.
Fadil also said that Muslims from around the world will gather in Baghdad for a three-day conference opening Jan. 9. He said 350 delegates from Islamic movements in more than 17 countries would draw up a plan for a Muslim response to any attack against Iraqi forces.
Also Sunday, Iraqi Information Minister Latif Jasim said that Bush “must have been drunk” when he suggested Iraq might withdraw from Kuwait.
Bush said in an interview with Time magazine to be published today that he had a “gut feeling” Iraq would withdraw to avoid war.
Jasim derided the comment, adding: “If Bush starts a war, he will not be able to stop it. . . . We will show the world that America is a paper tiger.”
Also on Sunday, Iraq said four U.S. and Western warships surrounded the Iraqi oil tanker Ain Zalah and that 60 Marines boarded the vessel and attacked the crew.
In Washington, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department said she had no information on the alleged attack.