Judith Miller, writing in Monday’s New York Times, records what could be a breakthrough in the search for illicit weapons of mass destruction.
Some time ago, an Iraqi passed a note to American soldiers saying that he was a scientist who had worked in Iraq’s chemical weapons program. The note languished for a while because the troops were fighting and because similar tips had proved to be blind alleys. But a few days ago, a MET Alpha chemical weapons detection team from the 101st Airborne tracked the man down, and he led them to buried chemical weapons components. So far, his story seems to check out–and if what is now being reported is true, it’s dynamite.
The scientist stole documents, samples, and other evidence of the program that he worked on, and buried them in his back yard. He says that in the days before the war started, major efforts were undertaken to either destroy, bury or otherwise hide Iraq’s illicit weapons. He reportedly has led American soldiers to at least one site where such weapons (or weapons components) are buried.
The scientist also says 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.”
And, most tantalizing of all, the man says that “more recently Iraq was cooperating with Al Qaeda,” although it is not yet clear how he knew this.
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