Cablegate: Key Finance Ministry Official Assassinated

DE RUEHGB #3393 2831350
R 101350Z OCT 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 3, Director General of Accounts
at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) Mr. Gazi Faisal was
assassinated 100 meters from the Ministry of Finance (MoF)
building. Gazi worked closely with the Embassy and
international donor community and was often the sole source
of important information related to budget execution,
expenditures, and Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) legacy and
post kinetic financing. The MOF is taking steps to rebuild
ministerial capacity in the wake of his death. Minister of
Finance Bayan Jabr told TreasAtt he will be reorganizing his
office to replace Mr. Gazi with three Directors General
(DGs), and will be moving parts of the MoF to a safer
location to better protect his people. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Early in the evening of October 3, Director
General for Accounts Mr. Gazi Faisal was assassinated roughly
100 meters from the MoF building. He was in his 30s, and
trained under influential MoF advisor Dr. Azez Hassan during
his tenure as a professor at Baghdad University. Gazi was
unmarried and lived with his mother in Baghdad

3. (SBU) As a Sunni working in a predominately Shi,a
Ministry, Gazi had been an employee of the Ministry dating
back to the Saddam era. He had been offered bodyguards by
Jabr, but he turned down this additional protection, claiming
that it attracted additional attention, made him more of a
target, and caused his mother anxiety. Working in a an
increasingly Shi,a dominated organization, Gazi,s life was
repeatedly threatened by insurgent elements in the building.
But because of his close ties with Jabr, Gazi was told that
he would remain safe as long as he looked after the
Minister,s interests.

4. (SBU) TreasAtt staff initially referred to Gazi as "Dr.
No," because if he appeared to never approve any expenditure
of GoI funds. Over time, however, our respect and
understanding for him grew. His work on budget formulation,
allocation, and execution was invaluable. He offered
critical insights into how spending units related to the MoF,
line ministries, and the provinces, and he played a pivotal
role in the release of funds. Mr. Gazi made an uneasy peace
for himself in a difficult situation because he insisted that
all those seeking funding from the GoI adhere to strict
regulations. Once necessary documentation was in order, he
would make those payments authorized by Dr. Azez and Jabr in
a timely manner.

5. (SBU) Gazi played a vital role in keeping the MoF
functioning. With few automated systems to back him up, he
invariably found the correct answers to questions on
meticulously handwritten 14 column spreadsheets. Gazi worked
closely with the Embassy and the international donor
community. He was an active participant in the join MoF and
World Bank Public Expenditure and Institutional Assessment
Workshops, and he most recently participated in the PRT
Budget Execution Conference at the Embassy.

6. (SBU) TreasAtt visited Jabr on October 6 to offer his
condolences. During this visit, Jabr confessed to TreasAtt
his shock that he could not protect such a key employee.
TreasAtt discussed the difficulty in replacing a man so
crucial in the budget execution process, and suggested that
the Minister replace Gazi with 4 DGs who would cover,
respectively: Provincial Accounts, Central Government
Accounts, International Accounts, and a senior Administrator
to oversee these units and take charge of the overall budget
execution process.

7. (SBU) At a dinner a few days later, Jabr thanked TreasAtt
for his recommendations. Jabr said he was moving key
ministry offices to a safer location in an effort to better
protect his people. Responding to TreasAtt's suggestions,
Jabr indicated he intended to replace Gazi with three DGs.
Emad al-Na,eb will oversee the two other DGs and will be
responsible for Provincial Accounts. Mr. Awatef, who was
Gazi,s assistant, will be responsible for either Ministerial
or International Accounts. The third DG is yet to be
determined. Given the increasing demands on budget
execution, including financial reporting, this reorganization
should position the MoF to improve budget execution despite
the loss of Mr. Gazi.

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