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
Signature
General
Moohsen Abdel Karim Mahmood
General Relations
15/9/2002

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.

Saddam Was Into RVs (Updated And Bumped)

Joseph Shahda has uncovered another document of interest from the files of intelligence captured by US forces during the fall of Saddam Hussein. This document addresses a still-controversial topic — the mobile laboratories cited by Colin Powell as one of Saddam’s WMD capabilities and discovered during the 2003 invasion. Later investigators determined these trailers to be hydrogen-gas production facilities although some experts still dispute that conclusion.
The document translated by Shahda does not provide many details itself, but does show that the project for which the labs were built attracted high-level interest for equipment supposedly only suitable for meteorological research:

Beginning of the translation of page 1
In the name of God the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
Presidency of the Republic
Military Industrialization Commission
Ibn Rushd General Company
Number 10025611018
Date 11/11/2002
To: Military Industrialization Commission/Department of Projects
Subject: Investment Plan for the year 2003
In regards from the letter singed with you on 12/10/2002 regarding our company investment plan to the year mentioned above, included is the technical report according to the letter showing its details below:
1. Develop and enlarge existing laboratories, 178,000,000 Dinars
2. Prepare MOBILE LABORATORIES , In Iraqi Dinar 128,413,00 + 273,445 Euros with 10 Dinar/Euro, 27,344,500, 155,757,500 Dinars.
Total 333,757,500 Dinars
Remark: The cost of the vehicles related to the Mobile Laboratories is not determined yet.
Please review and do what is necessary… with regards
Attachements:
1.Table fof quantity+ The plan related of developing the Laboratories
2.
Signature…
Noor Al Din Abed Al Hadi
The General Director
11/11/2002
End of translation of page 1
Partial translation of page 2
Table of electrical equipments and devices of the Mobile Laboratory
Partial translation of page 3

Table of electrical equipments and devices of the Mobile Laboratory
Measurement device for the speed of vibration
Measurement device for the speed of rotation
Ultrasonic wave test device
Different pressure measurement devices
Mobile testing device for metals
X-Ray testing device
20 Kilovolt electric generator
End of partial translation of page 3

Nothing in this document says anything explicit about chemical or biological weapons. However, some disquieting indicators exist that tend to argue against the weather-balloon explanation we have so far heard about the trailers. First and foremost, the Military Industrialization Committee was not just an ordinary procurement board for the Saddam regime. It had primary responsibility for the Iraqi WMD program before the Gulf War, and presumably afterwards as well. Its director, Abdul Tawab el-Mullah Howeish held the position of Deputy Prime Minister, a Cabinet-level position.
Global Security explains:

Iraq Television reported on 4 May 2002 that Saddam Husseyn had chaired a meeting where he listened to briefings by “joint working teams” on unspecified scientific and technical questions. Iraqi TV broadcast the news in an unscheduled summary. Saddam was reported to have commended the efforts of the teams. He was quoted as saying: “My assessment of you is always 100 percent. My assessment of you as people, commanders, and fighters, is also 100 percent. Therefore we will defeat the enemy. This is our determination and confidence in our battle. Rely on God.” The meeting was also attended by Saddam’s second son, Qusay, described as member of the Iraq Command of the Arab Socialist Baath Party and supervisor of the Republican Guard. Others attending were: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Military Industrialization Abdul-Tawwab Huwaish, Defense Minister Staff-General Sultan Hashim Ahmad, Minister of Industry and Minerals Muyassar Raja Salah, and director of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Fadil al-Janabi. The commander of the air force, the commander of air defense, the dean of the Military Engineering College, the vice chairman of the Military Industrialization Organization, and “a large number of fighters, researchers, and technicians in various specialities were also there.

That meeting took place six months before this order for the manufacture and delivery of these laboratories, ordered by the ministry in charge of WMD and at the same time that the US had demanded action against Saddam Hussein for his defiance of sixteen previous resolutions for disarming and accounting for his previously-held WMD. The order itself seems out of place for a country preparing for a military invasion on the scale promised by the US. Why would the Iraqi military need to create hydrogen for weather balloons in the middle of an invasion?
If that looks strange, then the components of the labs look even more odd. Hydrogen production should not require precise measurements for rotation and vibration or an X-ray tester. It seems even more odd when the cost of these laboratories is considered. In the first place, this order actually refers to both mobile and fixed laboratories, demanding that 178 million Iraqi dinars get spent on enlarging the existing fixed facilities. It then orders the purchase of the mobile laboratories at a cost of 333 million dinars. At the exchange rate set by Saddam, that would have equaled about $1 billion in US dollars. However, the memo appears to acknowledge economic reality by showing an exchange rate of 10 dinar per Euro, which at the time traded close to the US dollar. That puts the mobile labs ordered by the agency responsible for WMD efforts at around $33 million dollars.
That seems like a lot of money for hydrogen production, especially for a nation preparing for a full-scale military invasion. Something is full of hot air, and it doesn’t appear to be Iraqi weather balloons. (h/t: CQ reader Jeff R.)
UPDATE AND BUMP: The comments section has interesting input from CQ readers. Mike O has some practical experience in biological work:

I spent 8 years growing Bacillus subtilis in deep tank culture and can attest that those mobile systems could have been- and probably were- used to growl Bacillus anthraces, the anthrax oraganism. While most systems would use filtration and/or incinerators on the exhaust system, a compression system would have the advantage of eliminating near-site detection (no smell of fermentation).
Hydrogen is generally produced via anaerobic processes, so the oxygen tanks would be unnecessary. The nitrogen and the chiller both could be used to enhance final sporulation, since the spores are the stable form that can be weaponized.

Professor Dave has a perspective on the conventional explanation for these mobile systems:

Generating H2 on site can be done. It was the customary way to get the H2 for balloons for a century or so. However, I’d surprised if anyone does it that way today. Today it is much easier to just fill a pressure cylinder from a H2 plant and transport the cylinder. It strikes me as pretty lame to suggest that H2 isn’t available in a country that has a substantial petroleum industry. H2 is used in refineries in huge quantities. The amount needed for weather balloons wouldn’t even be as much as the leaks in a refinery.

The Iraqi oil industry still continued to operate under sanctions; in fact, Saddam used it to generate billions of dollars for his own use. If hydrogen is as plentiful a byproduct of refining as Professor Dave indicates, which this seems to support, then it is hard to imagine that Iraq needed on-site hydrogen generation with its associated expense and danger.
Perhaps these labs had some benign purpose, but hydrogen production doesn’t make much sense. Nor does having your military spend $33 million on the purchase of civilian mobile laboratories while the world’s remaining superpower is signaling that it will invade your country.
UPDATE II, 7/8/06: The $33 million combined the two line items. That is a questionable assumption, as the second line item specifically calls out the mobile labs, while the first appears to specify existing fixed labs. I’d feel more comfortable saying that the Iraqis allocated $15.5 million for the mobile labs. The question then becomes how many they expected to produce under this plan. We found two, which implies that each trailer cost over $7.5 million. Other documents released this week indicate that they may have planned for as many as seven, which would put the cost at well over $2 million — still extremely expensive for mobile hydrogen generation.

Saddam Produced Nerve Gas Detectors In 2000

Joseph Shahda has translated yet another of the captured Iraqi government documents, and this one shows that Saddam Hussein’s government produced banned nerve gas detectors in 2000. Shahda’s discovery shows that Saddam never intended on stopping his WMD programs nor planned on complying with UN resolutions that supposedly “contained” Saddam (via Power Line):

Beginning of Translation of page 5 of document CMPC-2003-016083
In the Name of God the Most Merciful The Most Compassionate
TOP SECRET
The Republic of Iraq
The Presidency of the Republic
The Military Industrialization Commission
Number 2/4/44
Date 13/1/2001
To: THE PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARIAT
Subject: Detection Equipment
Your top Secret letter number AA’/128 on 10/12/2000, we would like to show the following:
1. On 10/12/2000 a laboratory test was done on the new equipment and the results of the test was similar to the required quality compared with the Russian equipments
2. On the light of the above (1) a second equipment was received from the Ministry of Industry and Minerals and the total tests were done on it on 24/12/2000 using laboratory equipment to Chemical Detection Device (GSU-12) and with the presence of the Chemical Class representatives and the manufacturing party and its success was proven from the perspective of detection and reaction to NERVE AGENTS.
Please review… with regards
Signature
Abd AlTwab Abdallah AL Mulah Huwaish
The Minister of Military Industrialization
13/1/2001
End of translation of page 5.
Now on page 71 of the document there is a section that mentions that the production of “Nerve Gas Detectors” is PROHIBITED
Beginning of Partial Translation of page 71

Based on what is in the letter of the respected Presidential Secretariat (Top Secret) aa’/4 on 22/1/2001 followed by the Top Secret letter of (M.I.C) 2/4/44 on 13/1/2001 and after review of the technical report the commission recommend the following:
1. Consider it a work that reach level of Invention Works because it replace the need that occur to the Russian equipment that has an expired efficiency and that exist in the storages of the Chemical Class, and it is a PROHIBITED EQUIPMENT where the price of the effective material in it can reach 51,000 Dollars.

Nerve gas detectors normally have a defensive use, as Shahda notes in his introduction. However, the reason the UN banned Iraq from possessing this equipment is for its offensive uses. Units that deploy nerve gas have to ensure that it doesn’t blow back at their own troops. Any army that manufactured, stored, or transported such material would have to deploy these detectors in order to ensure that their own soldiers did not get exposed to the poison. Banning them from Iraq should have kept them from protecting themselves from their own WMD — and his clandestine desire to acquire them is a practical demonstration of his ambitions.
One has to wonder again why the American intelligence agencies that had these documents in their possession for so long never made the effort to investigate them. Perhaps the revelations coming from the work of Joseph Shahda will finally convince them to put more resources to the task.

Saddam And Nukes: Together Again In 2001

Joseph Shahda has translated yet another critical document from the captured Iraqi Intelligence Service files that adds to the increasing knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s efforts to protect and extend his WMD capabilities. Shahda discovered two memos regarding the supposedly moribund Iraqi nuclear program in this file, both of which make specific reference to efforts at restarting the nuclear program in 2001 and later in 2002. Here are the translations of the memos:

Beginning of Page 3 Translation of document CMPC-2004-000167
In the Name of God the Most Merciful The Most Compassionate
The Republic of Iraq
The Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission
To: The Respected Mr. Chairman of the Engineering Department
Subject: Simulation Reactor
An inspection was made to the suggested hall to build the Simulation Reactor and that contain recently laundry equipments (Laundry) and the hall was closed and the location abandoned and neglected for a long time and based on this it requires the following:
1. Remove all the laundry equipments and machines.
2. The structural division should inspect the hall and to repair and remodeling and fortify the building after determining the cost of these works.
3.Transfer the equipments and systems specialized in the control of 14 TAMUZ Reactor from storage 14a to the location of the hall and by phases.
4. Distribute the engineering and technical staff proposed for work in the project to the days of the week where engineer will be dedicated for one day.
5. Dedicate one of the technicians to fully work in the location.
6. Prepare the timeline schedule to finish the project and for the duration of a full year.
Please review and comment
With regards
Signature…
Adnan Salim Girgis
director of the Electronic Support Division
29/1/2001
End of translation of page 3
Beginning of the translation of page 9
In the Name of God the Most Merciful The Most Compassionate
The Republic of Iraq
The Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission
The Engineering Department
Number: 10/2/1000
Date: 1/9/2001
To: The Respected Mr. Chairman of the Comission
Subject: Simulation Reactor
Previously you instructed to re-install the Simulation Reactor. Please approve the delivery of hall that was dedicated for it and currently occupied by the Laundry to the Electronic Support Division with the dedication of 15 millions Dinar for the purpose of starting the work.
Please review and comment… with regards
Signature
Doctor Hisham Mahmood Ahmad
Chairman of the Engineering Department

In addition, a memo dated Septemer 9, 2001 discusses the approval of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission to build the reactor simulator described above. Another, later memo in September 2002 asks the IAEC to stop work on the simulator, reminding them that UN resolutions prohibited such work. At the time, the US Congress had just started debate on the Authorization to Use Military Force against Iraq for its transgressions against UN Security Council resolutions and its ongoing efforts to build WMD.
As Shahda points out at Free Republic, the equipment discussed in the memo came from the ruins of Osirak, the nuclear facility built by Saddam in 1982 and destroyed by the Israelis before the reactor could come on line. The mere existence of this equipment violated UN sanctions, and the effort to put it into a simulator shows that the Iraqis had not lost their determination to develop nuclear weapons. Only the credible threat of military force, as requested by George Bush, stopped the Iraqis from completing their project. They had to get rid of the evidence so that Saddam could invite the inspectors to return as a political ploy that would derail US plans for military intervention. It worked, too; the UN decided to accept Saddam’s offer and it snarled the previous consensus for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.
The memos demonstrate Saddam’s intent to build nuclear weapons and his insistence on continuing research on their development even while supposedly “contained” by UN sanctions.
Addendum: Another Shahda translation shows the effort Iraq made in procuring aluminum tubes. These memos are less explicit and do not necessarily show that they were intended for nuclear-arms development. However, because of their dual-use capability — both uses involve weaponry and both were banned by the sanctions — it underscores the fact that Iraq was never going to cooperate and fully disarm under the terms required by UN sanctions and resolutions.

The Saddam Files: Why Make IEDs In 2000?

Joseph Shahda has translated yet another interesting document from the captured Iraqi files, although this one prompts more questions than it provides answers. The memo dictates goals for the year 2000 that involve the development and improvement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have been the mainstay of the insurgencies in Iraq after the fall of Saddam (via Power Line):

In the Name of God the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate The Presidency of the Republic The Intelligence Apparatus
Mr: The Respected Director
Subject: Projects of a Plan
Below are projects of the plan for the year 2000 and according to the budget suggested for it in the spending budget of the year 2000 and as follow:
1. Prepare an armored brief case to protect the VIPs 180 days.
2. Study on the Epoxy used currently in preparing the IEDs and the possibility of finding another type that will not affect the explosive.
3. Studies and researches of the materials that increase the intensity of the explosive.
4. Prepare theoretical and applied lessons on the popular explosives 120 days.
5. Training of the Arab Fedayeens- within the plan of the year 2000.
Establish tournaments specialized in the explosives 30 days.
Please review and your command with regards.
Signature…
Khaled Ibrahim Ismail
Senior Chemist
22/11/99

Nothing in this memo speaks to WMD, at least not explicitly, nor of any notable breach of the cease-fire agreements or UNSC resolutions. It does raise some questions. Why would the Iraqi military have spent so much time and effort in IED development in 2000? After all, the Americans had not attacked Iraq in force since 1991. Almost exactly one year prior to the memo from this senior chemist in the IIS, Bill Clinton had retaliated for the expulsion of the UN inspectors by firing a fusillade of missiles at Baghdad, but no hint of an invasion or even a sustained military effort had come from the US since the Gulf War.
IEDs have no military use; the shells used for their construction have much better effect if fired normally at an enemy. And yet, not only do we have Iraqi intelligence investigating these explosive devices, this memo even proposes “tournaments”, presumably for competing designs. It also mentions “Arab fedayeens”, a term that Americans might remember from the irregular Ba’athist forces called the Saddam Fedayeen which formed the core of the native insurgency as Baghdad fell. (They also preyed upon the regular Iraqi Army to prevent desertions and surrenders during the conflict.) In this context, “Arab fedayeen” obviously refers to non-native forces, and irregulars rather than soldiers from another allied country — in other words, Arab terrorists.
Given all of this information, it seems clear that Iraq had planned to train and equip Arab terrorists on the manufacture and use of IEDs. They intended on doing research on making these terrorist weapons even deadlier and more effective, and they wanted it all done before the end of 2000. They may not have realized their own need for the technology in 1999, but they certainly considered the program so urgent at that time that they pushed to get it completed within a year.
It looks like those ties between Saddam and terrorism keep getting stronger every day.
UPDATE and BUMP: Some have questioned the translation for IED and the significance of the term “Arab fedayeen”. Joseph Shahda responded through a CQ commenter:

From jveritas | 04/20/2006 5:18:45 AM PDT new

Thanks for the update.

The Iraqi used the word “IBWAT” which mean “EXPLOSIVE DEVICES” used in cars, roads, and other places. That is what we call IED. Moreover the Synopsis posed by the Pentagon website for the particular document used the word IED, unfortunately the Pentagon translator did not include or missed in his/her synopsis the important part of this memo, which is the “Training of Arab Feedayeens” by the Iraqi Intelligence, i.e. the training of non Iraqi Foreign Arab Terrorists.

If they wanted to train Iraqi Army soldiers in the construction and use of IEDs, why would they refer to them as “Arab fedayeen” in a secret memo? They would have referred to them by their unit designation or their deployment, or in the case of the Saddam Fedayeen, by that specific name.

Moving The ‘Special Ammunition’ To Baghdad

Joseph Shahda has dedicated himself to the arduous task of reviewing the documents captured in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom and left untranslated by the US military. Joseph has posted these translations at Free Republic and his translations have been confirmed as accurate by independent translators abroad. Today, Joseph posted a translation of military orders commanding the transfer of “special ammunition” from Najaf to Baghdad in the week before the American invasion of Iraq:

Document ISGP-2003-0001498 ISGP-2003-0001498 contains a 9 pages TOP SECRET memo (pages 87-96 in the pdf document) dated March 16 2003 that talks about transferring “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” from one ammunition depot in Najaf to other ammunition depots near Baghdad. As we know by now the term SPECIAL AMMUNITION was used by Saddam Regime to designate CHEMICAL WEAPONS as another translated document has already shown. For example in document CMPC 2004-002219 where Saddam regime decided to use “CHEMICAL WEAPONS against the Kurds” they used the term “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” for chemical weapon http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1601810/posts. What is also interesting is that these “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” were listed as 122 mm, 130 mm, and 155 mm caliber shells which are not by itself SPECIAL unless it contain CHEMICAL WEAPONS. In fact the Iraqi have always used 122 mm, 130 mm, and 155 mm caliber shell as a main delivery tool for Chemical Weapons Agents by filling these type of shells with Nerve Gas, Sarin, Racin, Mustard gas and other Chemical Agents.
Beginning of partial translation of Pages 85-96 in document ISGP-2003-0001498
In the Name of God the Merciful The Compassionate
Top Secret
Ministry Of Defense
Chairmanship of the Army Staff
Al Mira Department
No. 4/17/ammunition/249
Date 16 March 2003
To: The Command of the Western Region
Subject: Transfer of Ammunitions
The secret and immediate letter of the Chairmanship of the Army Staff 4/17/308 on 10 March 2003
1. The approval of the Army Chief of Staff was obtained to transfer THE SPECIAL AMMUNITIONS in the ammunition depots group of Najaf and according to the following priorities:
A. The first priority
First. Ammunition (122 mm)
Second. Ammunition (130 mm)
Third. Ammunition (155 mm)
To the depots and storage of the Second Corp and the two ammunition depot groups Dijla/2/3
B. Second priority.
First. Ammunition (23 mm)
Second. Ammunition (14.5 mm)
To the ammunition depots of the air defense and distributed to the ammunition depot groups in (Al Mussayeb- Al Sobra- Saad).
2. To execute the order of the Chief Army Staff indicated in section (1) above, we relate the following:
A. Duty
Transfer of the ammunitions shown in sections (A) and (B) from the ammunitions depots of Najaf to the ammunition depots in (Dijla 2/3, and Al Mansor, and Saad, and Al Mussayeb, and Sobra and Blad Roz and Amar Weys from March 16 till April 14 2003.
Signature…
General Rasheed Abdallah Sultan
Assistant to the Army Chief of Staff- Al Mira
March 2003
End of Partial translation
The remaining pages of this 9 pages top secret memo talk about getting the special vehicles to transfer the SPECIAL AMMUNITION and the people assigned to supervise and execute the transfer and they were top Iraqi Army and Military Intelligence officers.

As Joseph explained, the designation “special” usually meant prohibited materiel — the chemical and biological weapons that Saddam insisted the Iraqis did not possess. This shows that not only did Saddam believe these weapons to be in his possession, but also that his subordinates also believed it. This conflicts with the oft-argued notion that Saddam’s underlings only told him what he wanted to hear, afraid to tell him that the weapons were nothing more than vaporware. In the midst of preparing the Iraqi Army to fight the Americans they knew would be coming, General Sultan tasked valuable resources to move munitions of some “special” type closer to the capital, where the Iraqis expected to make their stand against the invading forces.
The timing should alert people to the nature of the revelation. This isn’t a document from 2002 or 2001, when George Bush had not yet committed to action in Iraq. The author of this memo didn’t copy Saddam Hussein or his inner circle to extend some elaborate illusion. Instead, this order came from the Army chief of staff to the Western Command — the opposite direction one would assume if it would serve as a deception to Iraqi leadership — and diverted badly-needed resources just days before the invasion that US and UN diplomacy had telegraphed.
What could be more important than manning defenses and establishing attack zones? And why would Iraq need to transfer conventional ammunition to Baghdad, where procurement assumably would be centered? Normally, one would expect a nation about to be invaded to send munitions to the outer defenses, not strip them to recall munitions away from the perimeter. This would be akin to the Germans removing the ammunition from the French coastline the week before D-Day in order to send it to Paris or Berlin.
These strange orders underscore the “special” nature of the ammunition in question. It also shows that the supposed deception of Saddam Hussein doesn’t account for all of the references to WMD in the Iraqi record. These orders specifically names depots where the materiel had been stored and the type of ordnance which it comprised.
We are getting a much better picture of prewar Iraqi involvement in WMD and terrorism from these documents, and all of it contradicts the conventional wisdom that the media has fed us since Baghdad fell. See Power Line for even more thoughts on this memo.

Saddam Targeted American Assets For Terrorism: Case Closed (Bumped)

A few days ago, I posted a translation of a document culled from the captured Iraqi documents that the US found during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This particular memo, dated March 17, 2001, comes from a brigadier general in the Iraqi Air Force and requests a list of volunteers from all units under his command for suicide attackers. The memo explicitly explains the targets for these terrorist attacks, as the original translation from Joseph Shahda shows:

The top secret letter 2205 of the Military Branch of Al Qadisya on 4/3/2001 announced by the top secret letter 246 from the Command of the military sector of Zi Kar on 8/3/2001 announced to us by the top secret letter 154 from the Command of Ali Military Division on 10/3/2001 we ask to provide that Division with the names of those who desire to volunteer for Suicide Mission to liberate Palestine and to strike American Interests and according what is shown below to please review and inform us.

When I posted this document, readers of this blog questioned the accuracy of the translation. People know that Joseph translated this for Free Republic, a strongly pro-war website, and that it was distributed by Laurie Mylroie, another pro-war commentator. Skeptics felt that this pedigree lent itself to a possibly warped interpretation of the memo. While the accuracy of the translation remained in question, the actual text — which showed an active Iraqi terror program aimed at Americans — would not get the attention it deserved.
In order to solve this problem, I decided to hire two Arabic translators on my own.
I found a translation service, Language 123, that employs a number of translators who work as free agents. The first translator, Nabil Bouitieh, works in the UK as a full-time translator for several government services. He has language certificates from Karl Marx University in Dresden, the German Cultural Center in Damascus, a degree in translation from Polytechnic of Central London, and a Masters of Diplomatic Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of London. Separately, I also hired Hamania H, who works from Damascus. She earned several degrees in language at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, including masters in translation, foreign languages, and bachelors in both areas and in law as well.
Neither of them knew that I had asked the other to translate the document. I split out page 6 from the original PDF and sent it to both along with payment. They both returned their translations today, and their results make it clear that Joseph Shahda had it right all along. First, we have Nabil Bouitieh:

Top secret memoranda sent to Al-Kadisseiya Military branch No.2205 dated 04/03/2001 and to the Headquarters of Zee karr military branch No. 246 dated: 08/03/2001 that we were informed by another memo from Ali Unit military branch No. 154 dated: 10/03/2001. We urge you to inform the above mentioned unit of the names of people wishing to volunteer for suicide action to liberate Palestine and strike American interests according to the following below for your information and to let us know.

Now here’s the translation of the same passage from Hamania H:

A confidential letter of Qadisya Military Branch, that holds the number 2205 dated on 4/3/2001, notified upon a confidential letter issued by Thi Kar military command, that holds the number 246 dated on 8/3/2001 and notified to us upon a confidential letter issued by Ali squad military command, that holds the number 154 dated on 20/03/2001. Kindly provide the aforementioned squad with the names of persons desiring to volunteer in the suicidal act in order to liberate Palestine and to strike the American interests in accordance with the following details.
You are informed and we therefore expect you to notify us.

You will note that all three translations of this document — performed by three different people working independently of each other — all translate this section almost identically. All three explicitly show that the Iraqi military had ordered a call for volunteers to carry out suicide attacks on American interests, six months before 9/11 and two years almost to the day prior to our invasion.
This confirms that Saddam Hussein and his regime had every intention of attacking the US, either here or abroad or both, using members of their own military for terrorist attacks. That puts an end to all of the arguments about whether we should have attacked Iraq, we now know that Saddam and his military planned to attack us. This one document demonstrates that had we not acted to topple Saddam Hussein, he would have acted to kill Americans around the world.
UPDATE: Why “case closed”? Because this shows that Saddam had recruited suicide bombers to attack American interests — showing that destroying Saddam’s regime is an integral part of the war on terror, not a distraction.
What else could this memo mean? I look at the timing of this recruitment drive in this post.
BUMP 4/10/06: To top. Interesting that no one in the media, or really all that much in the blogosphere, seems to be picking this one up ….

‘The Iraqi Regime Has Transported The Chemical And Biological Weapons’

CQ reader Sapper sends along a new document from the captured files of the Saddam Hussein regime, one that had just been released on Friday, that has notations indicating where WMD stockpiles might be found. The information on the memo has not been translated but the notations themselves sound breathtaking:

Please see Iraqi map to locate Al-Rasheed area
on this page important information that the Iraqi regime has Transported the chemical and biological weapons to al-Rashad area, and pronounced a Military Prohibited area
this area is completely covered with trees & bushes

Has anyone at CENTCOM followed up on this memo, or have they even seen it in the deluge of material from which this came? Someone looked at this at some point, but not long enough to provide a translation, unlike some of the other documents from the release. It certainly looks important enough to pursue in greater detail.
In case the DoD website gets slow, I’ve also uploaded the document to my server here.

IBD Decries ‘Amateur’ Effort On Saddam Translations

An editorial in the Investors Business Daily scolded Congress and the White House for not putting more of an official effort into translating the tens of thousands of documents captured during the fall of Iraq in 2003. CQ reader Angry Dumbo points out one passage that stands out regarding the efforts made by the blogosphere (especially at Free Republic, which translated the document I posted earlier this week):

Equally embarrassing to our spies is another newly released document from 1999 detailing plans for a “Blessed July” operation.
According to the English translation on the Foreign Military Studies Office’s Joint Reserve Intelligence Center Web site, Saddam’s older son Uday ordered 50 members of the fanatical “Fedayeen Saddam” group to stage bombings and assassinations in Iraq and Europe — including London, where 10 people were assigned.
Excerpts from a long, recently declassified report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Iraqi Perspectives Project will be published in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. Looking at the “Blessed July” document, Foreign Affairs notes this “regime-directed wave of ‘martyrdom’ operations against targets in the West (was) well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.” …
At present, we’re relying too much on translations by bloggers and other amateurs [emphasis mine — CE]. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., says the White House has been dragging its feet for fear of embarrassing supposed allies (such as Russia) whose links with Saddam would come under scrutiny.

I understand Angry Dumbo’s irritation. It really does not matter whether amateurs or professionals translate these documents — rather, the accuracy of the translation is all that we need to ensure. Bloggers have done this because the government simply didn’t want to commit the resources necessary to do it. Rather than scold Rep. Hoekstra, IBD should congratulate him for getting someone engaged in determining the contents of this treasure trove of documentation.
However, knowing the extent of IND’s support of the blogosphere, this does not appear to be meant as an insult to bloggers. IBD wants to press the government to take responsibility for the evaluation of these documents rather than push it off to a community of volunteers. That’s commendable; the government never should have let these sit for three years unexploited. We could have bridged a gap in our understanding of the war much earlier and avoided a lot of political infighting as a result.
On the other hand, I’m not sure that I agree with IBD’s overall assessment of this credibility gap between the volunteers and the professionals within the intelligence agencies. The administration has to deal with a high level of distrust, a lot of it irrational, that would make anything they produce suspect in most circles. The administration sees the pre-war argument as something they’re not likely to win even if the documentation shows clear links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, because most of the debate has become so unhinged that people now demand a threshold of proof so high that it surpasses even criminal prosecution. Under these circumstances, it might work better to have the documents independently translated and verified.
One argument that I received after posting the translation supplied by Laurie Mylroie was that because the translation came from Free Republic, it made it unreliable. After that argument was made, I contacted two professional translators who will translate page 6 of the BIAP document independent of each other. When I receive those translations — for which I paid a fee to both — I will post them along with the FR translation as soon as they arrive. That should put an end to speculation about the motives of the translators, and put to rest the worries about “amateurs” involving themselves in the process.