Examination of Witness (Questions 700-719)|
19 JUNE 2003
Q700 Mr Maples: When this was presented
in the introduction it says, "This reports draw on a number
of sources, including intelligence material". I do not actually
have the quote with me, but when the Prime Minister introduced
the document in Parliament he actually said something slightly
stronger than that, but again, what we were led to believe was
that this was based on intelligence material. Having read it,
how much of it do you think is based on your article and there
were two other articles, were there not, a Mr Boyne and a
Mr al-Marashi: Ken Gause, that
Q701 Mr Maples: Among the three of
you how much of this document do the three of you account for?
Mr al-Marashi: I highlighted the
similarities between my article and this dossier here. I found
19 paragraphs that were taken directly from my article. A section
such as the Presidential Secretariat here was taken directly from
Ken Gause's article, virtually unchanged. If I could estimate
I would say that 90% of this intelligence dossier was taken from
the three articles, by myself published in MERIA and the
two articles in Jane's Intelligence Review, virtually unchanged.
Q702 Mr Maples: We have been told
by the British Foreign Secretary that no minister saw this document
before it was published. We do not know whether that includes
the Prime Minister or not, though he is a minister, but does that
surprise you, that no minister would see a document like this
before it was published?
Mr al-Marashi: It would surprise
me because I think a minister would have the experience to see
some kind of inconsistency in the document or something a bit
suspicious about it, so it does surprise me that a document that
was eventually handed over to US Secretary of State, Colin Powell,
that he would present to the UNyou would think that at
least one minister would have seen this document.
Q703 Mr Olner: You are an expert
on Iraq and perhaps, if anything, what you ought to be really
annoyed about is that it has suddenly been christened the "dodgy
dossier" because it could well be that your document was
very accurate and was a very good document and that is why it
was used. On the broader aspects of Iraq, do you have any opinions
at all on the quality of the intelligence of the US and British
intelligence agencies on Iraq?
Mr al-Marashi: The quality, no,
because I have never had access to British or US intelligence
Q704 Mr Olner: So you have got no
views at all on that?
Mr al-Marashi: No. All my research
is done through open source materials. The advantage I had was
that I had these captured Iraqi intelligence documents to examine
but those are also open to the public domain, so I cannot really
assess or evaluate US or British intelligence on Iraq for that
Q705 Mr Olner: How do you think the
US gathers its intelligence on Iraq?
Mr al-Marashi: Probably through
a variety of sources, where there are signal intercepts. The reason
I could say that signal intercepts were used for gathering intelligence
is that, looking at the Iraqi intelligence documents, I know they
were constantly aware of the Americans' eavesdropping equipment,
so they were quite aware, the Iraqi side, that the US had the
capability of eavesdropping on their communications, as well as
informers, people within the Iraqi Government, as well as probably
from the Iraqi opposition groups, based on those three sources,
as far as I know.
Q706 Mr Olner: Was there any linkage
at any time between UNMOVIC and intelligence-gathering and what-have-you?
Mr al-Marashi: Between UNMOVIC
and intelligence gathering? I am not in a position to say.
Q707 Mr Olner: There is no way you
can speculate on it?
Mr al-Marashi: It is highly doubtful
that UNMOVIC had any connections with intelligence as far as I
know, given the past repercussions of the alleged US connection
between the intelligence community and UNSCOM in the past. Given
the fact that that had such repercussions, I would be sceptical
at least that the were collaborating, that is, US intelligence
and UNMOVIC, this time around, as far as I know.
Q708 Mr Pope: As an American of Iraqi
origin, do you think, leaving aside the dossier that included
your work, that the British and American Governments made a convincing
case for the war?
Mr al-Marashi: I think the emphasis
was in the wrong place. I think without a doubt that the regime
of Saddam Hussein should have been removed, if not eliminated,
in 1991. My regret was this over-emphasis on trying to implicate
the Iraqi Government with the stocking of a weapons of mass destruction
arsenal that could threaten the security of Europe, for example,
as was argued in the September 2002 document. It was exaggerated
and the repercussions of that in my opinion are that now US and
UK forces are in Iraq, they are scouring for any traces of weapons
of mass destruction when in my opinion they should be scouring
Iraq for any evidence of mass graves. I think the emphasis is
in the wrong place. The UK and the US are trying to find any members
of the former Ba'ath regime and make deals with them if they can
provide weapons of mass destruction when in fact many of them
were criminals linked to the emergence of these mass graves, that
they led to brutal human rights conditions in my native country.
I think this whole emphasis, sowing this war as a war against
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, was a bit misleading,
and the fact that we have, I think, now forgotten the brutal nature
of this regime and the fact that the mass graves that are showing
up are not getting as much attention or are not causing outrage
are because in this sense 10 Downing Street has pretty much put
itself in the corner by arguing the case for war solely on the
basis of weapons of mass destruction.
Q709 Mr Pope: Which, of course, is
one of the differences between the US Government's position and
the British Government's. We almost entirely based our case on
WMD. One of the aims of the Americans and the British forces occupying
Iraq at the moment is to de-Ba'athify the party. One of the things
that we all noticed about Iraq was how the Ba'ath Party had seemingly
infiltrated almost every aspect of Iraqi life. It was all-pervasive.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q710 Mr Pope: Is that a realistic
goal? I think we would all think it is a sensible thing to want
to do but how realistic is it?
Mr al-Marashi: It is extremely
realistic. The Ba'ath was prevalent in all areas of society. In
fact, there is an Arabic word for the Ba'thification of society,
Taba'ith. It is a process of infiltrating the Ba'ath into
political parties, any kind of formal political organisation,
any kind of educational organisation, any kind of sports organisation.
It was standard government policy. They had a specific word for
it. The process of extricating the Ba'ath from Iraqi society is
going to be quite a difficult one and the problem is that any
kind of professional in Iraq, whether he was a doctor, a lawyer,
an engineer, had to be affiliated to the Ba'ath Party; if not
a member, a sympathiser. There are different ranks. You can be
a member or a sympathiser to get ahead in Iraqi society. It was
all-prevalent and infiltrated every layer of society in Iraq.
Mr Pope: That is very helpful. Thank
Q711 Andrew Mackinlay: I had two
or three questions here which you have largely covered, but one
thing which does occur to me is this. You are not suggesting that
he did not have weapons of mass destruction; you just think there
was over-emphasis to some extent probably in terms of volume?
Why do you think Saddam did not give unimpeded access, because
his regime might have survived, it might have been sufficient,
certainly here in the United Kingdom and perhaps even in the United
States administration, to at least spin it out longer? Why did
he not concede more towards the end? It has always struck me as
Mr al-Marashi: In my opinion Saddam
perhaps did not believe this, that they could have found evidence
of him maintaining some kind of infrastructure for reconstituting
his weapons of mass destruction in the future, what they call
a breakout capability. The fact that perhaps UNMOVIC might have
been coming close to finding out at least the infrastructure,
that is our evidence, with the state of the paper evidence, or
scientists, for that matter, who could have provided the key to
uncovering these weapons of mass destruction, Saddam could have
realised this and tried to prevent this. The fact of the matter
though is that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had never been
used outside of Iraqi borders. There may have been a few cases
of these weapons of mass destruction reaching outside Iraq's borders,
but for the most part Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were
a threat to Iraq's people. They were a threat to the Kurds, they
were a threat to the Shi'a of Iraq, they were used against the
Iranians once they crossed over their border. Definitely Iraq
had weapons of mass destruction which were a threat to the Iraqi
people and to the region. Whether they were a threat to the security
of Europe or to the world is another issue. In my opinion I still
do not think that Saddam fully 100% disarmed, given the billions
of dollars that he invested in this programme. My opinion was
that he destroyed his arsenal, destroyed any concrete evidence
that he had the actual physical weapons, but there were clues
that he was pursuing these weapons after the 1991 resolutions.
Just in the last couple of years there was the case of an Indian
company called NEC providing chemical precursors to Iraq. This
was within the last year, so he had the substances. He was in
pursuit of the substances. There was the discovery by UNMOVIC
of 12 artillery shells that could deliver chemical weapons. They
did not have the actual warheads filled but the fact of the matter
is that they could have delivered the weapons if Saddam decided
to do so. As well as keeping the necessary scientists, he had
the manpoweror I should say the womanpower; most of Iraq's
biological and chemical weapons experts were womenand there
were clues that he was keeping at least some kind of residual
chemical weapons capability or biological weapons capability.
The key is, was it a threat as, let us say, the September 2002
dossier tried to depict? I would say no. I would say it was an
Q712 Mr Illsley: As far as you are
aware, you were not known to British intelligence at all, were
Mr al-Marashi: As far as I was
Q713 Mr Illsley: So your piece could
not have been sought out by these people directly? They would
not have known to go to your document?
Mr al-Marashi: No.
Q714 Mr Illsley: And yours was the
first document listed on that particular site? If I went to the
internet now your document would still be listed as the first
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q715 Mr Illsley: Alongside how many
other similar documents on a trawl of the internet?
Mr al-Marashi: How many similar
documents to this? Having scanned the literature on Iraq's intelligence
agencies exhaustively, if there is anything on Iraq's intelligence
agencies that is in print I would know about it. I would say three
documents in total deal with this breakdown of the structure of
Iraq's security apparatus. There are three documents out thereSean
Boyne's, which is a two-piece article produced in Jane's Intelligence
Review, Ken Gause's and my article. I would say that three
articles in the press, and they are widely available, are devoted
to Iraq's intelligence services.
Q716 Mr Olner: In answer to Mr Mackinlay,
when we were talking about weapons of mass destruction, you did
say that you felt that Saddam and his regime were still manufacturing
or had still got stockpiled small amounts perhaps. Is not one
threat the fact that yes, he has got them, even if he only has
a small amount, and another of the threats was that he would willingly
give them to terrorist organisations to use against the West or
Mr al-Marashi: No, I do not think
that is a valid argument. Saddam would not even give them to his
own military, never mind to a terrorist organisation. The control
of these weapons were only trusted to the Special Security Organisation,
which is not even a military unit; it is a political security
intelligence organisation. It was only this organisation that
could have deployed chemical weapons. The regular military could
not, or did not have the authority to, deploy them. The command
and control of these weapons was very tightly controlled. Based
on his past precedent of using these weapons, I highly doubt that
he would have given these weapons to an agency that he would have
no control over. If he did not even trust his own military it
is highly doubtful that he would give it to an organisation where
he would have no control over it and that he would suffer the
repercussions if the link was found. The argument that Iraq would
have given these munitions to terrorist organisations I think
is very hard to prove.
Q717 Mr Olner: Given your greater
knowledge than ours on the Iraqi regime, and what you have just
described about this dictator megalomania and what-have-you, do
the Iraqi people now believe that he has gone and gone for good?
Mr al-Marashi: No. I could say
as a fact that the Iraqi people still will not fully believe that
he has disappeared unless they see his body. He had an all-pervasive
presence in Iraq but he would rarely make a public appearance.
He would rarely appear in public. What has changed? They still
have not found any conclusive proof that he is dead, so the Iraqi
people are still convinced that nothing has changed since this
Q718 Sir John Stanley: Apart from
very visible things like missiles, most of the case for suggesting
that Saddam Hussein had a major WMD programme rests on the figures
reported to UNSCOM in terms of the unaccounted-for stocks of chemical
precursors and so on. Do you have any reason to doubt those figures,
which are the base line figures, the 1998 figures, or do you think
they were hugely exaggerated? If you work from the basis that
those UNSCOM figures, going back to the regime's declarations,
were basically correct, do you believe there was a massive destruction
programme? That in itself is quite reasonably detectable in some
cases, certainly where CW is concerned, or do you think that there
has been some incredibly successful, massive, hiding away operation?
How do you account for the disparity between the scale of the
programme in these unaccounted-for figures and here we are at
the end of the war, access to all the scientists, etc, and we
have come up with pretty well zilch?
Mr al-Marashi: It could be a combination
of both, that a good part of the actual programme, stockpiles
and so forth, could have been destroyed. Large scale destruction
can be detected but basically not everything can be detected.
Not all destruction can be detected. Concealing these weapons
was something that the Saddam regime was very good at. They had
12 years of practice at doing so. They used any kind of facility
in Iraq to conceal these weapons, any kind of civilian facility,
the place that an inspector would be least likely to look a weapon
could be hidden or any kind of precursor or necessary infrastructure
or necessary machinery could be hidden in, let us say, a civilian
facility. He had done that in the past. It could be a combination
of destroying a good part of the arsenal or material and hiding
the rest, but the fact of the matter is that he could have used
any facility anywhere within the boundaries of Iraq to hide these
Q719 Sir John Stanley: But if you
take the UNSCOM figures as broadly correct, if you take the assumption,
which seems to be a reasonable one, that Saddam Hussein was not
conspicuous about voluntarily going around destroying weapons
of mass destruction, if he had a big destruction programme, surely
he would have produced evidence of that when asked for when the
pressure really came on and he was facing an invasion? What you
are saying points to a very successful large scale concealment
programme which sooner or later ought to be uncovered.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
There is a formal technical term for this process. It is called
the concealment apparatus. It was believed that the head of the
Presidential Secretariat of Saddam Hussein, the person who was
just captured yesterday, was in charge of that. I really wait
to see in the next week or so what kind of information he will
provide but literally for the first time since this war began
the US forces have captured somebody who could really provide
evidence on whether or not these weapons were actually hidden
and to what extent. Whether he is going to be induced to co-operate
and so on remains to be seen but, as I say, since this war began
the first person who has been captured who has had a hand in concealing
these weapons is in US custody and the evidence he provides will
be the final key to providing evidence to the extent of Saddam's
weapons of mass destruction programme.