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June 7, 2006
September 2002: Iraq Buried Chemical Weapons Near Fallujah

Joseph Shahda has translated another key text from the archives of captured documents left untranslated by the Pentagon. In this case, Shahda appears to have struck gold: the memo describes not only the disposal of chemical-weapon materials but also where Iraq buried them. The memo dated September 15, 2002, comes from the General Relations group from one of Saddam's military/intelligence organizations, and describes in detail where the chemicals were hidden from UN inspectors (via Power Line):

In the Name of God The Most Compassionate The Most Merciful The Republic of Iraq The Presidency of the Republic Saddam Feedayeens Secretariat The Supervisor of Saddam Feedayeens 2002/9

The Respected Supervisor of Saddam Feedayeens
Subject: Information
Salute and regards Sir

We received information that state the following:

1. A team from the Military Industrialization Commission when Hussein Kamel Hussein was conducting his responsibilities did bury a large container said that it contains a Chemical Material in the village (Al Subbayhat) part of the district of Karma in Fallujah in a quarry region that was used by SamSung Korean company and close to the homes of some citizens.

2. The container was buried using a fleet of concrete mixers.

3. Before the departure of the international inspectors in 1998 a United Nations helicopter flew over the region for two hours.

4. A large number of the region residents know about this container from the large number of machines used to hide it then.

5. It was noticed a non ordinary smell in the region.

6. No official visited the burial site through out the years which give the impression that it is not currently known by the Military Industrialization Commission.

7. Positions for the air defense were digged in the region that surrounds the quarry place without them knowing anything about the container. Also next to it are important headquarters like (Saddam factories-The warehouses of the Commerce ministry- Headquarters of Mujaheeden Khlaq).

Please your Excellency review and order what is appropriate Sir… With regards

Moohsen Abdel Karim Mahmood
General Relations


The Military Industrial Commission, as Global Security explains, performed more duties than simple procurement and liaison with defense contractors. The MIC ran the Iraqi WMD program before the 1991 Gulf War, and continued its existence afterwards more covertly in the same effort. It is no coincidence that the MIC gets mention in two other blockbuster finds by Shahda: the mobile laboratories that got discounted later as $33 million hydrogen production trailers, bought just as the US made public its resolve to conclude the Iraq standoff by any means necessary, and the illegal purchase and testing of nerve-gas detectors, a necessity for those planning on transporting or stockpiling nerve agents. The continued references to the MIC in these documents more than suggest that the Iraqi regime continued to pursue WMD programs, and this memo shows that they also worked hard to hide the evidence.

The placement of this depot also suggests more to the story. The memo locates it near one of the hotbeds of the insurgency, Fallujah, especially for the foreign terrorists working for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Coincidence? Perhaps, although residents of the area apparently knew full well what Saddam and his henchmen did when it brought in all the heavy equipment for the burial. They also smelled a strange odor for some time afterwards, according to the memo.

Even more interestingly, located nearby was the headquarters of the Mujaheddin Khalq. This was another terrorist group given refuge by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in 1987. Fighting first (and badly) as a military unit, the Khalq switched to terrorist tactics soon afterwards:

In 1987, the MEK was driven from its headquarters in France and moved its base to Iraq, where Saddam Hussein gave the group shelter. From that time, the group continually conducted raids, bombings and mortar attacks in Iran. These attacks were mostly carried out by the group's military wing, the National Liberation Army (NLA) of Iran, which was formed in June 1987. At least four cross-border attacks were mounted by the NLA into Iran in the late 1980s, including one after the cease-fire between Iraq and Iran in July 1988, which ended with a large MEK force being destroyed west of Kermanshah.

These cross-border attacks continued into the 1990s, with some being unreported. One reported series of incidents in mid-1992 started on April 4, 1992, when the MEK launched a raid. The raid was quickly followed by an Iranian reaction, as a crucial parliamentary election was less than a week away. Eight Iranian aircraft bombed an MEK base inside Iraq; conflicting reports disagree over whether one plane was shot down. In retaliation, the MEK conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, from Ottawa to Bonn. Over the remainder of the 1990s, however, the MEK claimed credit for an increasing number of operations inside Iran.

What differentiates the MEK from virtually all other organizations on the State Department foreign terrorist organization list is that it has its own conventional military force. The MEK in Iraq is estimated to possess approximately a division's worth of heavy equipment (tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery). This equipment is manned by the NLA, which has large numbers of women in its ranks. The authoritative yearly Military Balance, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, assesses the NLA's strength at 6,000-8,000, subdivided into brigades, with perhaps 250 plus tanks and infantry fighting vehicles captured from Iran. The NLA also has artillery and helicopters. Although its headquarters is in Baghdad, the NLA has a number of bases in Iraq split between Abu Ghareb and Al-Andules Square. In October 2001, the leadership of the MEK was assumed by Moshgan Parsaii, a 36-year-old U.S.-educated woman, for a two-year period.

The Khalq have conventional heavy weapons, including artillery. Most of the chemical weapons produced by Saddam Hussein were manufactured as artillery shells. Saddam used the MEK in his harassment campaigns against the Kurds -- who suffered a chemical-weapons attack in Halabja in 1995. The Khalq refused to allow UN weapons inspectors into their camps, one of the many defiances of Saddam Hussein that resulted in the UNSCOM suspension in 1998. (Interestingly and certainly coincidentally, this article on the CDI site was written four days before this memo to Uday Hussein, the commander of the Saddam Fedayeen.)

These memos being translated by Joseph Shahda at Free Republic have the potential to completely recast the history of the Iraq War. Perhaps this find will allow the Pentagon to locate at least some of the WMD the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies insisted Saddam retained. They should also start working on getting the rest of these documents translated quickly while the information could still be useful.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 7, 2006 10:05 PM

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