Radical Arab militants have been trickling into Iraq to join the fight of Ba’athists and radical Islamists against US forces. But another, non-violent Arab contingent of volunteers has been gearing up for battle on a different front – the defence of Saddam Hussein.
During the past year, the committee for the defence of Mr Hussein, known by its acronym Isnad, has swelled to more than 2,500 lawyers. Some are Iraqis, led by Mr Hussein’s head lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi. But the majority come from Arab states, with Jordan providing as many as 600 of the legal experts. In Libya, the head of the support committee is Aisha, the daughter of Colonel Muammer Gadaffi.
The committee claims to have the direct blessing of Mr Hussein and to have been asked to represent him by his family. His daughter Raghed acts as the main liaison with the legal team.
But the committee’s role appears to be largely political. Its aim is to keep alive Arab voices of protest against the US and the new Iraqi political system, despite the January elections and the formation of a new democratic government in Baghdad.