Examination of Witness (Questions 659-679)|
19 JUNE 2003
Q659 Chairman: Mr Al-Marashi, may
I welcome you on behalf of the Committee to this inquiry into
the Decision to go to War in Iraq. Your background as I see is
this. You are a Research Associate at the Center for Non-proliferation
Studies (CNS) of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Your research focuses on the diffusion of nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons and missile technologies in the Middle East,
particularly Iraq and Iran. You received an MA in Political Science
at the Arab Studies Center at Georgetown in 1997. You have also
attended the University of California Los Angeles, and have worked
for the Harvard University Center on a project classifying captured
Iraqi state documents. You also have been a researcher on Iran-Iraq
affairs at the US State Department, Congressional Research Service
and National Defense University. You are now a DPhil student at
St Antony's College, Oxford. Your work as I understand it was
drawn upon largely for the second dossier without your authorisation.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q660 Sir John Stanley: Mr al-Marashi,
I would like to ask you a number of questions in relation to how,
without, we understand, your consent, you came to make such a
very substantial contribution to the so-called "dodgy dossier"
entitled Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception
and Intimidation. We do not have the transcript of the evidence
session that we took yesterday from Dame Pauline Neville-Jones,
though it may be here in the room a little later on, so you will
forgive me if I have to do this from memory but it was a point
on which I was able to have a word with Dame Pauline Neville-Jones
afterwards. Referring to the sources for the "dodgy dossier"
and your own contribution, she made a comment which will be in
the transcript that it transpired that the source was much better
known to the British Government than was originally thought and
understood. Can I ask you: in the period prior to the publication
of your thesis did you receive any approaches from any of the
staff at Number 10?
Mr al-Marashi: No, I was never
Q661 Sir John Stanley: Which people
in the British Government did you know?
Mr al-Marashi: I have never known
anyone in the British Government.
Q662 Sir John Stanley: Do you know
how they knew you so well, because clearly they had come to recognise
that you were a source of considerable expertise in this area?
Mr al-Marashi: The only way I
can infer they got hold of this article was that not only is it
published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs
but there is also an on-line version. If one were to do an internet
search of Iraqi intelligence agencies on any of the web browsers
my article is the first to come up. Basically, it was one of the
first articles ever written compiling all the open source information
on Iraq's intelligence agencies, so on any kind of internet service
this would be the first article that would come up. I had reason
to believe that the internet version of this article was consulted
for the dossier released in February 2003 because grammatical
mistakes made on the internet version ended up in this February
2003 document so, because of the mistakes I made that showed up
on the internet version, they ended up in the document, Iraq:
Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation.
Q663 Sir John Stanley: Can I just
ask you, because it appears in a paper which we have received
from Dr Glen Rangwalawho
presumably you do know,
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q664 Sir John Stanley: and
probably consulted you before he submitted this memorandum for
the Committee: in his paper to us he names four officials in Number
10 who were basically the authors of this document. Can I just
ask you for the record whether you know them and whether they
had made any approaches to you at any point: Paul Hamill, Foreign
Office official, John Pratt, a junior official from the Prime
Minister's Strategic Communications Unit, Alison Blackshaw, Alastair
Campbell's personal assistant, and Murtaza Khan, News Editor of
the 10 Downing Street website?
Mr al-Marashi: No, I have never
met or spoken to any of the four people you mention.
Q665 Sir John Stanley: The subject
of your thesis was basically the structure of the Iraqi Security
Service in the very early 1990s. Did it come as something of a
shock to you that you found so much of your thesis being drawn
upon in a document which purported to give the current organisational
structure of the Iraqi Security Service, even though your own
thesis was related to the period ten years previously?
Mr al-Marashi: The ultimate aim
of this project, the article that I wrote, was to accompany a
thesis dealing with the 1991 Gulf War. Not only that, but I am
a historian by training. I use historical methodology. The article
I wrote for the MERIA journal was supposed to be a history
of Iraq's Intelligence Services. It was supposed to give an overview
but basically the bulk of the material came from the 1991 Gulf
War. I tried to make it as up to date as possible but not for
the purpose of serving as a policy brief for something that would
influence the decision to go to war, as this document did. I was
quite shocked to see it end up in this dossier. That was not my
intent, to have it support such an argument to provide evidence
necessary to go to war.
Q666 Sir John Stanley: As has been
widely reported, the Government has chosen to make an apology
to the heads of the intelligence agencies for producing a document
which purported to have some degree of authority from themselves
when that was not the case, and has provided an assurance that
that will not happen again in the future. Has the Government made
any expression of regret or apology to you for the plagiarisation
of your thesis?
Mr al-Marashi: I have never been
contacted directly, either by phone call nor in writing, since
February 2003 up to the present.
Q667 Sir John Stanley: Do you think
you might be owed an apology?
Mr al-Marashi: I think the least
they could do is owe me an apology.
Q668 Chairman: Can we now apologise
Mr al-Marashi: The time is quite
past but I would have to say that the biggest fear I had out of
this whole story breaking out was that I am an Iraqi myself and
when I wrote this article I did not think it would get much of
a circulation, maybe 5,000 people at the most, people in the Middle
East academic community. What the events have done to me around
February and March was that basically they connected me to the
British case for going to war and, having relatives in Iraq with
my last name connected to me in the UK would have been disastrous
for them. I have already lost two relatives to the Saddam regime.
Any connection now between me and the UK Government and the case
for going to war would have had a disastrous effect on my family
back home. That was my biggest regret out of this entire affair.
Given the personal stress I have gone through, I think the least
they could have done was offer me an apology.
Q669 Sir John Stanley: Were there
any reprisals made against any of the members of your family in
the period between the publication of the "dodgy dossier"
and the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime?
Mr al-Marashi: I have not been
able to establish contact with my family. I cannot say 100%. In
fact, I was intending to go back to find out the fate of my family,
but I cannot say I am 100% sure if there were reprisals. Given
the fact that my family was politically suspect in the past, it
is likely that they could have been suspect or there could have
been reprisals. There is always that possibility.
Q670 Sir John Stanley: When you say
you sadly have lost two members of your family to the Saddam Hussein
regime, are you saying to this Committee that they were imprisoned
or are you saying they were murdered by the Saddam Hussein regime?
Mr al-Marashi: They were taken
after the 1991 revolt in the south of Iraq. We found out about
their fate through an Amnesty International report. They had disappeared
and it was only after an Amnesty International report was released
that we saw their pictures and the report that we knew that they
were imprisoned and their fate is unknown, so that is all I can
say, that their fate is unknown.
Q671 Sir John Stanley: Again, just
for the record, because various suggestions have been made that
there were those in the business who were seeking to plant information
in the British Government's way and indeed in other Governments'
way that might have been helpful to make the case for war against
Iraq, can the Committee assume that you were a wholly unwitting
and unwilling participant in this particular publicity exercise
by the British Government?
Mr al-Marashi: Yes, you can assume
I was completely unaware of the events and that I was never contacted
by any government body.
Q672 Chairman: But you have actually
worked for the US State Department?
Mr al-Marashi: I worked as an
intern in 1996.
Q673 Chairman: And you have also
worked at Monterey which is very closely linked to the intelligence
community in the US.
Mr al-Marashi: No. The Monterey
Institute is adamant in using only open source material. They
keep distance from any intelligence agencies but the whole foundation
of this organisation was to provide information to inform the
public debate by using open source material. They strictly keep
away from any kind of formal allegiances to any intelligence organisations
and they do not use any intelligence information in any of the
literature that the centre produces.
Q674 Chairman: You are a historian
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q675 Chairman: But did the articlecorrect
me if I am wrong on thisappear in 2002?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q676 Chairman: Was that broadly correct
in terms of the structure of the intelligence community in Iraq
at the point of publication?
Mr al-Marashi: It was as accurate
as I could possibly make it as of September 2002 using open source
Q677 Chairman: So it was updated
beyond 1991 to 2002?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Mr Pope: I must say the details of this
as it unfolds become more and more extraordinary. We have been
told that the four junior officials in Number 10 were responsible
for downloading this off the internet and then copying and pasting
it. You said at the beginning that if you had tapped into a search
engine yours was the top piece of research that came up, so they
did not even look very far. It must have been a busy day in the
office and they just took the first one.
Mr Illsley: We are not casting any aspersions
on the quality of your work.
Q678 Mr Pope: No. It is just the
detail that I was taken with. How did you find out that this had
happened to your work and how did you feel when you discovered
Mr al-Marashi: I found out through
an e-mail by Glen Rangwala from Cambridge. He asked me if I had
collaborated with this dossier. I said I was not even aware of
this dossier. In fact, he was the one who sent me the text of
the dossier I have here, so it was not until he had sent it that
I was made aware of this document. I was made aware of the similarities.
I did not take any action beyond that. I just compared the documents,
knew there was a plagiarism, but I just left it at that. Given
the fact that I had relatives back in Iraq I do not want to bring
attention to this. The story developed a life of its own in the
UK and so by Thursday, I believe it was February 7, I saw the
story break on the internet and then it took off from there.
Q679 Mr Pope: Your work was altered
as well. It was not just that they downloaded it; they used it
without your permission, they did not attribute it to you. All
these things are bad enough, goodness knows, but they also altered
some aspects of it, did they not?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
3 Ninth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee,
Session 2002-03, The Decision to go to War in Iraq, HC
813-II, Ev 30. Back