Iraq Linked to al-Qaeda, WMDs Moved To Syria
Vol: 19 Issue: 21 Monday, April 21, 2003
According to the New York Times, a scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq’s chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began.
This unnamed scientist, whom the NY Times reporter embedded with the 101st Airborne observed showing US investigators where some of the stuff was buried, told American weapons experts that Iraq had secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990’s, and that more recently Iraq was cooperating with al Qaeda.
The scientist told US investigators that Saddam Hussein’s government had destroyed some stockpiles of deadly agents as early as the mid-1990’s, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the ground combing through Iraq’s giant weapons plants.
An American military team hunting for unconventional weapons in Iraq, the Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, or MET Alpha, which found the scientist, declined to identify him, saying they feared he might be subject to reprisals.
But they said that they considered him credible and that the material unearthed over the last three days at sites to which he led them had proved to be precursors for a toxic agent that is banned by chemical weapons treaties.
The officials’ account of the scientist’s assertions and the discovery of the buried material, which they described as the most important discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons, supports the Bush administration’s charges that Iraq continued to develop those weapons and lied to the United Nations about it.
Military officials said the scientist told them that four days before President Bush gave Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war, Iraqi officials set fire to a warehouse where biological weapons research and development was conducted.
The officials quoted him as saying he had watched several months before the outbreak of the war as Iraqis buried chemical precursors and other sensitive material to conceal and preserve them for future use.
The officials also said the scientist showed them documents, samples, and other evidence of the program that he claimed to have stolen to prove that the program existed.
The scientist said that because Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs were highly compartmented, he only had firsthand information about the chemical weapons sector in which he worked, team members said.
But he has given the Americans information about other unconventional weapons activities, as well as information about Iraqi weapons cooperation with Syria, and with terrorist groups, including al Qaeda.
There is probably no major newspaper that is more anti-administration than the New York Times. Because of that, a report in the New York Times outlining evidence of an al-Qaeda link to Iraq and Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction is especially interesting.
The war on Iraq has been widely criticized by the administration’s enemies at home and abroad as being unjustified.
If it turns out that there actually are weapons of mass destruction that are found in Iraq, then the administration will have all the justification it needs before the UN for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein.
And, if it turns out there is a direct link between al-Qaeda and Saddam’s government, then the administration will have the justification it needs before its domestic enemies in the House and Senate. Bush was given Congressional approval to use all military means necessary in the war against al-Qaeda and international terrorism.
And since it is being reported by the decidedly anti-Bush New York Times, it is unlikely that the story is an administration ‘plant’ — so this is a story that has, as they say, ‘legs’.
We’ll keep an eye on this story — it should be interesting to hear the anti administration apologists spin this one.