JERUSALEM: Former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein had planned to kidnap the then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in retaliation to the Jewish state's attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, a media report said.
The sensational revelation has been made in a soon to be published memoir by Saddam's attorney, Badie Aref, Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported.
Badie, who heard of the plan from one of the Iraqi intelligence chiefs, claims that Palestinian operatives were entrusted with the job of kidnapping Begin and bringing him to Baghdad, Ynetnews quoted the report as saying.
The plan was eventually called off after an unnamed Western leader urged the former Iraqi dictator to give up on the plan, the report said.
The Arabic newspaper will be publishing additional excerpts from the book in the coming weeks.
Israeli fighter jets flew some 960 kilometres on June 7, 1981 and dropped bombs on Iraq's under-construction nuclear reactor in Osirak, completely destroying it.
Operation Opera, or Operation Babylon as it was also called, sparked international criticism following Iraq's declaration that the reactor was not meant for military purposes.
Begin defended Israel's operation saying, "Are we to passively standby and know atomic bombs are being produced there?" He also called Saddam "a hard-headed megalomaniac, cunning, sophisticated and cruel" who was "willing to take high risks and drastic action to realise his ambition for self-aggrandisement".