Examination of Witness (Questions 720-728)|
19 JUNE 2003
Q720 Chairman: On that concealment
apparatus, I have heard, for example, that there are several hundred
miles of underground tunnels, that there are possibly tunnels
under lakes and so on, that Iraq has had 12 years of practice
in concealment with a number of experts from outside, including
Serbian experts. Can you tell us a little more about that process
Mr al-Marashi: It is not only
underground tunnels but there were bunkers that Serbianthis
was during the time of the former Yugoslavia that provided aid
on these kinds of underground facilities, so there is a vast infrastructure
of underground facilities in Iraq, and it has not, as far as I
know, been publicly released how much of that underground structure
has been uncovered or inspected. Those would be very likely places
where such weapons could be hidden.
Q721 Chairman: Finally, I would like
to build on a question which Sir John asked. You have researched
extensively in the captured archives. Is it fair to say that the
Iraqi regime was extremely meticulous in its bookkeeping?
Mr al-Marashi: Any incident, no
matter how minuscule, was recorded in the Iraqi intelligence files.
I will just give you an example. A soldier deserted to Saudi Arabia.
They even knew he had six bullets in the cartridge of his Kalashnikov
rifle. This is how minutely Iraqi intelligence kept track of matters.
If they could keep track of how many bullets are in a Kalashnikov
rifle it is most likely that key documentation or evidence of
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme or any other kind
of programme or human rights abuses were documented in Iraq. It
was a bureaucracy that kept a record of almost anything that was
of any significance or insignificance in Iraq.
Q722 Chairman: So in the light of
that characteristic how can you help the Committee in this way?
Here we have in November of last year a unanimous Security Council
Resolution 1441. We have the forces of the coalition beginning
to build up at his frontiers. There was a final opportunity if
he did not co-operate. If he had destroyed those weapons it would
surely have been easy to produce those meticulously produced records,
surely easy to produce the scientists who did it. What conclusion
do you draw from that?
Mr al-Marashi: In fact, they would
produce documents but then, again, the time it takes to link the
paperwork to the actual destruction process, there was the key
problem. They could produce any kind of documents necessary but
how do you prove it?
Q723 Chairman: But these are documents
to show, if it be the case, that he had destroyed all his weapons.
If he had done so, surely those documents could have been produced
to say, "Look: I am clean".
Mr al-Marashi: They could have
Q724 Chairman: So why were they not
if he had in fact destroyed them?
Mr al-Marashi: The whole 12,000-page
document that he handed over to the UN was this kind of effort,
to provide the documentation that he had destroyed them.
Q725 Chairman: Yes, but by general
consent the documents which were produced on December 8 were wholly
irrelevant in terms of the fact that they were old documents,
there was nothing that could show the process
Mr al-Marashi: But it shows the
point that he did try to produce paperwork to prove that he was
complying. The fact was that it was not believed. He could have
produced documents that would have provided evidence to say, "Look:
I have destroyed this much amount of anthrax", but then the
inspectors would have gone and would have had to take that paper
and see the physical evidence of that destruction, so if he was
faking this kind of evidence it would eventually have been uncovered.
Q726 Chairman: Can you give any plausible
explanation as to why, if he had destroyed those weapons, at a
point when he had the international community united, when he
had the coalition forces building up, he did not produce the proof?
Mr al-Marashi: To understand why
he did not do that? No.
Q727 Chairman: Before thanking you,
could I also say a big thank-you for making such strenuous efforts
to come to the Committee, as I understand you were a victim of
the rail system and you did take a taxi, I think, for a large
part of the journey.
Mr al-Marashi: Yes, that is correct.
Q728 Chairman: Thank you for that
and thank you for your helpful evidence.
Mr al-Marashi: My pleasure.