Sunday, January 29, 2006

WMD still, in all likelihood, in Syria

The Likelihood grows
that Iraq's chemical weapons ended up in Syria:
The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed...
Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

"Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Mr. Sada said. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians."

Mr. Sada said that the Iraqi official responsible for transferring the weapons was a cousin of Saddam Hussein named Ali Hussein al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali." The Syrian official responsible for receiving them was a cousin of Bashar Assad who is known variously as General Abu Ali, Abu Himma, or Zulhimawe.

Georges Sada makes these claims in his new book, Saddam's Secrets.

Mr. Sada is an unusual figure for an Iraqi general as he is a Christian and was not a member of the Baath Party. He now directs the Iraq operations of the Christian humanitarian organization, World Compassion.

Mark in Mexico has more on this here.

These claims are in line with Israeli intelligence conventional wisdom on the issue. Ariel Sharon addressed the matter publicly in 2002.
These concerns first became public when, on December 23, 2002, Ariel Sharon stated on Israeli television, "Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria."[24] About three weeks later, Israel's foreign minister repeated the accusation. The U.S., British, and Australian governments issued similar statements.

And David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, also made such claims in 2004.
[Kay] said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.

"We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."
In his book, Sada also claims that he was the one who talked Saddam Hussein out of a chemical attack on Israel during the first Gulf War.
The former deputy of the Iraqi air force, General Georges Sada, revealed on Saturday that that former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, ordered him during the first Gulf War to bomb Israeli population centers with chemical weapons.

The ousted dictator, said Sada in recently published book, Saddam's secret's, ordered 96 Russian fighter jets to be armed with chemical weapons and sent to bomb Israel.

According to Sada, who recently served as a national security advisor to the temporary prime minister and was in the midst of a book tour in the US, said he succeeded in convincing Hussein to reconsider his order.

Sada said he convinced Saddam to abort the mission by telling him that the Iraqi pilots could not complete the mission with the equipment at their disposal, and that the Israelis had radar that could detect them before they reached their target.
Previous posts on the WMD's in Syria here and here.

In case anyone needs reminding of the brutality of the Saddam regime, the website of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, headed by Cliff May, is hosting 4 videos showing actual torture and murder that took place under Saddam's regime and recorded by his regime.

Also in Syria, during Assad's meeting last week's with Ahmadinejad, Imad Mugniyah, one of the world's most wanted terrorist, was also spotted.
Congressional staffers familiar with America's Iran policy, however, said yesterday that while they had not received confirmation of Mr. Mugniyah's participation in the Ahmadinejad-Assad summit from American officials, they had heard from foreign "diplomatic sources" that the terrorist was at the meeting.

Mr. Mugniyah appears on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list along with Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the government has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his capture. Mr. Mugniyah, of Lebanese origin but said to be living now in Iran, is described by the FBI as the "alleged head of the security apparatus" for Lebanese Hezbollah.

As for the bomb attack in Iran last week, which some analysts suggested may have been aimed at Ahmadinejad - it occurred in a town he was due to visit, but he cancelled the trip because of inclement weather – that may have been set up by the Iranin government itself as a way to garner support for Ahmadinejad and the government.
"The Iranian regime has a long track record of fabricating bomb attacks inside Iran to advance its own political agenda," Mr. Timmerman said, citing an arson attack in August 1978 orchestrated by Ayatollah Khomeini, originally blamed on the shah but designed by Khomeini's officials to spark the revolution that brought him to power. "I would not be surprised if Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps were doing the same thing today, in a vain attempt to get Iranians to rally around the Islamic Republic," Mr. Timmerman said in an email to the Sun.


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