Allawi was indeed the European president of the Association of Iraqi Students Abroad. This job allowed him to travel widely and meet his fellow Arab nationalists. This is when he allegedly fingered student-traitors, some of whom were “denounced and punished” and some of whom were executed. The Tikrit clan of Saddam Hussein’s rise to power was a bad omen for nationalists, such as Ayad. He had a falling out with the strong man and fled the country. While in Britain in 1975, he resigned from the Baathist party. There is much evidence to suggest that anyone who failed to flee the country at that time became buried beneath it.

Cloak and Dagger Exile

Allawi sent himself into exile, first to Lebanon and then finally in London. He received his master’s degree in medicine in 1976, and his doctorate three years later. While in London, the first suspicious incident occurred. Three men broke into his London apartment and struck him several times with an axe. The attackers left Allawi, whose leg was nearly severed, for dead. The attackers were never arrested, but there is speculation that Saddam ordered the hit. Dr. Sadoun al-Duleimi reveals that “…Allawi was an important figure in the Baathist party. He knew a lot of things and passed them onto MI-6. That’s why agents from the Mukhabarat, the secret police, were ordered to kill him.” Whether or not this is true, Ayad Allawi seemed to get the message, and he dropped out of sight. He was back in the game in 1980, when the Saudi secret service helped him set up and run the oddly named Radio Free Iraq. This enterprise failed, but it maintained Ayad’s name on the active roster. It also helped get Allawi some business ties into the only game in town, the oil business, and it helped him put together his first fortune.

The Iraqi National Accord

In 1991, Saddam was chased from Kuwait and his fate appeared sealed. With the help of both British and American intelligence, Allawi organized the Iraq National Accord. This group’s main function was to attract former Iraqi military officers and other officials, with the aim being to oust Saddam in a coup d’etat. But the stubborn beast of Baghdad held onto power. The next year, with the Saudis putting on the pressure, the INA was requested to cooperate with the brand new Iraq National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi. Allawi and Chalabi were well known to each other, having attended primary school together. They were also cousins by marriage. Their work together is little more than a collection of embarrassments. They were trying to overthrow the Hussein regime with a series of car bombings and bungled coup attempts and armed revolts. Their cooperation did not last long.

The 1996 Debacle

Allawi was instrumental in helping the CIA in its worst operation since the Bay of Pigs disaster. After Chalabi failed to come up with a promised “people’s uprising” in Kurdistan, the CIA was ready to try again. The operation was in place in January 1996, after President Bill Clinton gave his approval. Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, related that Allawi had achieved the support of local Arab governments. But overthrowing a madman is expensive. The CIA paid six million dollars, as did the Saudis and the Kuwaitis. The operation was scheduled for the end of June. But Allawi was eager to put his own mark on this possible success. A month before the attempt, Allawi leaked the story to the Washington Post. At about the same time, Saddam’s secret police in Baghdad had picked up one of Allawi’s operatives. Inside the beltway, little attention was paid to the Post story. But Saddam Hussein’s men were much impressed. They quickly convinced Allawi’s man to talk, and, on June 20, they began to roll up the opposition. Within days, about 30 disloyal generals had been executed, while 120 others had been arrested and tortured. It is estimated that 900 people were murdered in the purge that followed. Nothing was ever mentioned about the millions of wasted dollars. But no Americans were publicly involved, and the matter was swept under the black ops rug. But the future Iraqi prime minister was not yet finished with helping the coalition oust Saddam. He was the individual who tipped MI-6 to the fact that the weapons of mass destruction held the Hussein government could “become operational in 45 minutes.” In July 2003, Allawi was appointed head of the security committee of the fledging Iraq Governing Council. And this May 27, he was kicked upstairs to the office of interim prime minister. Given the chaos and disaster that he has inherited, perhaps this is the puppet strong man that the United States needs in power. Baghdad urban legends still surround the new prime minister. He has survived four assassination attempts. His dealings with captured killers have been ruthless in the extreme. It is rumored that, just a few months ago, Allawi personally shot six prisoners in a Baghdad jail cell. By Grady Hawkins

(Editor’s note: Ayad (also spelled Iyad) Allawi is the interim prime minister of Iraq. Sources for the following include the BBC, the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Guardian, SunHerald.com, and the Washington Post. Even so, there are gaps in the biography and conflicting reports in the sources.)

Baghdad Born

Ayad Allawi was born in Baghdad in 1946. One story claims that he was the son of a prominent Shiite merchant family, another says that he was the son of a doctor and Iraqi health minister under the old Kind. As a young man, he joined the Baath party in its underground infancy. Rumors abounded that, when he was a medical student in Baghdad, he carried a gun on campus and indulged in womanizing. Some witnesses doubt his medical degree. Dr. Haifa al-azzawi claims to have known the young Allawi: “His medical degree is bogus. The Baath party gave it to him before sending him off to London, with a World Health Organization scholarship grant, in theory to complete his studies, but in fact to spy on Iraqi students abroad.”