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Iraq: Premier Talks To RFE/RL About Amman Bombings

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari (file photo) (AFP) Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) in an exclusive interview on 14 November that the Iraqi nationality of the Amman suicide bombers should not be a factor in people's opinions about Iraq.

Al-Ja'fari: The woman who was interviewed on Jordanian television [Iraqi citizen Sajida al-Rishawi] yesterday does not reflect the culture, values, mentality, or morality of Iraq. Being part of terrorism does not signify material membership in an organization as much as it means belonging to an aberrant system of thinking. So we cannot judge the people of a certain country, any country in the world, based on the behavior of an exceptionally delinquent minority in it consisting of murderers.

By the same token, we don't judge the Jordanian people through [Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Mus'ab] al-Zarqawi, or through this or that terrorist. Rather, we make our judgment based on the best sample in that people, which consists of its intellectuals and thinkers and patriots. After all, the victims who fell in Jordan didn't fall because of an Iraqi act done by patriots, but by an act perpetrated by a group of terrorists consisting of various elements.

Additionally, the victims belong to several nationalities, as they included Iraqis and Syrians as well as Jordanians. For instance, the late film director Mustapha al-Akkad was Syrian. And among the Iraqi victims, there were three very highly qualified experts and administrators from Iraq's Oil Ministry, who were charged with patriotic missions. So why don't we make our judgments through such people?

RFI: How could the terrorist acts in Amman, committed by Iraqis, influence the attitude toward Iraq of other countries and Jordan in particular?

Al-Ja'fari: This lesson [of not judging entire nations by the acts of a few individuals], which the Iraqis have learned -- I hope our brothers, the Jordanians, the officials, will learn as well. I'm optimistic because they are intellectuals and far-sighted. [This lesson] applies also to all the people [of Jordan]. I am addressing in particular the clerics so they spread awareness that the natural answer to [terrorists] is to eliminate terrorism as a tactic and to eliminate terrorism as an idea.

One of the characteristics of the ideology of terrorism is that it tries to drive a pluralistic society into a state of war. It tries to undermine cohabitation, which is being advanced step-by-step from a certain level to a better one, between us [Iraqis] and the Jordanians. It is trying to stop this process and to spread hatred of some Jordanians [toward Iraqis], saying that an Iraqi woman appeared on television. Why is it not a victim on Iraqi soil, in Iraq, that represents Iraq -- rather than this woman? This culture [of terrorism] does not know the nature and the culture of the people. It's a culture that came from beyond humanity, from outside civilization, and penetrated the souls of some sick people in Jordan, in Iraq, in Syria, and in Saudi Arabia.

We have to make a distinction between individuals, people, the government, and the state in a certain country. It is unjust and unfair to judge a people through one certain individual. We were victims before they [the Jordanians] were victims. With their victims, we had also victims. In Iraq, every day [people] are killed in Al-Hillah and [other places] and the al-Zarqawi [group] comes out and announces their responsibility [for this]. Still, we didn't judge the Jordanian people through those [individuals].

This is what I have to say to Jordanians and to all people in the whole world -- that they should not give terrorism the chance to shape a people and to pit us one against another. We are fully aware that the Jordanian people are not represented by a terrorist, just as the Iraqi people are not represented by terrorists.

RFI: Will the Iraqi government ask for the deportation of this woman who confessed on television?

Al-Ja'fari: Certainly, there must be coordination and cooperation between us and the investigative and judicial authorities in Jordan. Since the beginning, I said I was ready to cooperate with everything related to this criminal act, even before the name of this woman was announced on television. I said, as far as we are concerned, we are ready to cooperate with any piece of information if it gives some indications. We deal with each other. Since the victims are from every country, investigation and cooperation must include every country as well, and I hope we will always cooperate.

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