Farrakhan visits Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan arrived in Baghdad on Friday on a mission "to see what we can do to possibly stop a war."
Farrakhan was greeted at Saddam International Airport by Abdelrazzaq Al-Hashemi, the head of the government's Iraqi Friendship and Peace Organization.
"We're very grateful to Allah that he blessed us with a safe flight to Baghdad," Farrakhan said. "Our purpose here is to see the people of Iraq -- hopefully the leadership -- and to see what we can do to possibly stop a war."
Asked if he was bringing a message to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from U.S. President George W. Bush, he said, "No. I bring a message from the people that I represent, and I hope it will be a message from the government."
Farrakhan said he would be in Baghdad for just two days, and he hopes to meet with Hussein while there.
"I don't know that I will meet with President Saddam Hussein. It is my hope to do so," he said.
The controversial and outspoken leader of the Nation of Islam, an African-American Islamic ministry, has traveled to Iraq three or four times over the last decade.
His current visit comes at a time of heightened tensions among Baghdad and Washington, which along with the United Nations has been pressing Iraq to allow weapons inspectors back into the country. Baghdad wants sanctions removed.
The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. military planners have put together a preliminary planning document that calls for air, land and sea-based forces to attack Iraq. The assault would involve tens of thousands of U.S. Marines and soldiers, the newspaper reported. (Full story)
Farrakhan has been touring the region in recent weeks, including a stop in Qatar. He arrived in Baghdad after a stop in the Syrian capital Damascus.
His comments at the Baghdad airport Friday were tempered compared to those he made in mid-June before leaving the United States.
During that news conference, Farrakhan lambasted the United States for what he charged is a plan to overthrow and possibly kill Hussein. Calling the U.S. Congress a "lynch mob," and President Bush the "leader of a lynch mob," Farrakhan claimed that reports Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction and gassed his own people are unsubstantiated.
Such allegations have been reported by United Nations weapons inspectors, as well as many international journalists.
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