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Re: Frmr NW Director on Iraq NW Program (NYT Mag 1 Oct 00)

Hi - another saga with more questions than answers (and some woeful 
The cynic would question not only the timing and how many times over the
years (always at a timely point) we have read of 'the most senior Iraqi
official to reveal' etc., but worth reflecting that: since as Nathaniel/CASI
have documented so graphically how the west armed Iraq and with US financial
contacts at the highest level up to the day before the invasion of Kuwait,
how come his name was unknown in the CIA/weapons circles. He had, apparently
been highly placed for nearly thirty years? The Baghdad Arms Fair was an
annual major world event - surely he is just the sort of person who would
have been in those highly co-operative years, high profile in the arms
When he finally reached the States, one assumes he intended to stay there -
a long tried and tested route to right to remain is to create a story that
makes the person a valuable CIA asset - or to go along with a disinformation
campaign created by US intelligence.
This is not to dismiss his claims, but bear in mind that Iraq, like many
other countries have genuine asylum seekers fleeing for their lives and
others who, on acceptance of their story and issuing of a western passport,
they travel back and forward with impunity.
However, that aside, the anomalies are interesting.
*Saddam has a cleanliness fetish (this is a long reported story) yet 'culls'
women off the street and  from audiences for help. He has women waiting to
give one woman a full makeover before going to bed with her? Hang on here -
obsessed with cleanliness then you get covered with lipstick and tinted
foundation? He chose virgins because they were safer? Not necessarily
cleaner? Did a Dr check their unsullied status? Surely with Mr Hamza's
inside knowledge he'd have known that?
*Christians trusted as domestic etc workers because they are cleaner than
Muslims. No, Christians have long been trusted (including pre-Saddam as I
understand it - come in Professor Mahdi and others with inside insight) in
the civil service beaurocracy and positions of trust. Tariq Aziz, of course,
arguably the most powerful man in Iraq after Saddam is a Christian.
*Further he is paranoid about assassination, has a food taster etc (believe
this to be correct) yet lets unknowns into his bed? Used as casually as
*Searching of cars going to Palaces etc, looking in glove box, engine etc.,
underneath. Ever tried to drive up Downing Street, into Buckingham Palace,
Capitol Hill, the French President's Palace - pick your Palace worldwide  -
oh please - hardly an unusual precaution.
*Iraq evading the IAEA and having infiltrated it. Maybe they did, maybe they
didn't (and even Iraq could'nt beat the UNSCOM model for spying!) but in the
quotes we have, the only man cited as 'our (Iraq's) man at the IAEA',
Italy's Maurizio Zifferero, conveniently dead.
*Human guinea pigs in biological warfare experiments. Highly possible and
absolutely horrific. But this is a global horror. Solicitors Russell Jones
and Walker are currently bringing a case against the UK's Porton Down on
behalf of one hundred serviceman who were used in terrifying experiments.
Just one is a man who alleges he was locked in a room with rabbits which was
then filled with gas. When he was let out all the rabbits were dead.
Numerous experiments in the US are well documented as they are in many other
*The great Wal-Mart assassination attempt. He thought he was going to be
killed and put his shopping trolley between him and the woman (buying the
National Enquirer at a Wal-Mart check out will never be the same again - I
gaze at the travelling hair dryer I bought at an Arizona Wal-Mart and
reflect on the hidden skulduggery lurking behind so mundane an act.) I
divert. Surely, if you believe your life is in danger and your movements,
domestic shopping etc habits are known - you change them, instantly?? And
shortly afterwards, he went back. Oh please ....
*Note to Editor of NYT Magazine: Saddam has 'rheumy eyes', ' onyx eyes' and
'yellow lifeless eyes'
- consistent metaphors please.

>From: Nathaniel Hurd <>
>To: CASI <>
>Subject: Frmr NW Director on Iraq NW Program (NYT Mag 1 Oct 00)
>Date: Mon, Oct 2, 2000, 4:57 pm

> New York Times Magazine
> 1 October 2000
> Saddam's Bomb
> Khidhir Hamza, once Iraq's leading nuclear physicist, defected five years
> ago and, so far, has lived to tell about it. In his new memoir, he recounts
> the inside story of how Saddam almost built an atomic weapon.
> The Wal-Mart on Route 3 in Spotsylvania County, Va., about 50 miles south
> of Washington, is not the sort of place where you would expect even a whiff
> of Middle Eastern intrigue. Yet one humid morning in August, Khidhir Hamza,
> once a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear physicist and now a defector, experienced
> a moment there as chilling as anything out of a Hitchcock movie. As he
> picked through a stack of shirts, Hamza looked up to see before him two
> people he knew from Baghdad, the wife and daughter of a senior official on
> the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission.
> The 61-year-old Hamza is not a man who believes in coincidence. As the wife
> expressed her delight at bumping into him after so many years, Hamza
> pretended not to recognize her. He also carefully maneuvered his shopping
> cart between them, fearing she might draw close enough to prick him with a
> poison-tipped instrument - a technique favored by Saddam's assassins.
> "It was terrifying," Hamza says in his accented English, which he speaks
> slowly, with a deep voice. "What were they doing there? I couldn't ask
> them. So I pretended they had confused me for someone else. Then I asked
> them who they thought I was, but they wouldn't answer. I could see from the
> sarcastic smiles on their faces that they didn't believe me." Hamza excused
> himself and hurried out of the store. A few weeks later, as he pulled his
> car into the Wal-Mart parking lot, Hamza saw the woman again, this time
> with her husband. Shaken, he kept driving.
> The episodes at Wal-Mart keep Hamza awake at night because he knows from
> long experience how Saddam Hussein operates. He knows, for example, that
> when Saddam wants someone eliminated, he often chooses a friend or relative
> of the victim to perform the task - not only to get inside the defenses of
> his target but also to test the loyalty of his designated assassin. Hamza
> has seen friends liquidate friends under Saddam's orders to kill or be killed.
> "They always send someone you know," Hamza told me a few weeks after the
> incident. "With Saddam, no one can be sure who somebody really is. You can
> never know who is who."
> Hamza also knows that Saddam has good reason to want him dead. Before he
> defected to the United States in 1995, Hamza was the director general of
> Saddam's secret program to build a nuclear bomb, a three-decade effort that
> nearly succeeded. When he fled, Hamza took the secrets of the weapons
> program with him, disclosing them to the Central Intelligence Agency in
> detailed briefings and later going public with his story in interviews,
> lectures and TV appearances. For now, Hamza has the unusual distinction of
> being the highest-ranking Iraqi scientist ever to defect and live to tell
> about it.
> But he may be pushing his luck. Next month, Scribner will publish Hamza's
> memoir, "Saddam's Bombmaker." The book not only recounts how he and a team
> of scientists secretly designed and nearly built a nuclear device; it also
> provides a rare glimpse of life in the presidential palace. There are
> firsthand descriptions of Saddam's impulsive murder and torture of
> subordinates, his drunken rages, his sexual exploitation of women and his
> paranoia about germs. There are new charges about Saddam's use of human
> guinea pigs in biological-warfare experiments. And Hamza alleges that
> during the Persian Gulf war the Iraqi leader deliberately positioned
> stockpiles of chemical and biological agents in the path of advancing
> American troops. Hamza also warns that Saddam remains determined to
> reconstitute his nuclear bomb program and still has the scientists to do so.
> In the shadowy world of intelligence organizations and defectors, it is
> often difficult to know what is really going on. Were the people Hamza
> encountered at the Wal-Mart assassins or merely innocent shoppers? You
> can't know. But those who worry about Hamza's safety say that an incident
> in McLean, Va., last year provides a cautionary tale. There, a 63-year-old
> Iraqi businessman named Fuad Taima was found professionally murdered in his
> home, along with his American wife and their 16-year-old son. After 18
> months, the crimes still remain unsolved. What the lead investigator,
> Bradley Garrett, of the F.B.I., can confirm is this: the assassin was a
> Middle Easterner and a skilled killer; the Taima family knew him and let
> him into the house; and the murder of Taima's wife and son was a pointed
> message to others.
> "There is a very important fact about Saddam that people do not tend to
> take into account, and that is his need for revenge," says Rend Rahim
> Francke, the Baghdad-born executive director of the Iraq Foundation, a
> democracy and human rights group in Washington. "You don't know what we're
> dealing with here. It's pretty beastly."
> Hamza lives south of Washington in one of the many new subdivisions that
> have homogenized the communities along Interstate 95 heading toward
> Richmond. When I arranged to visit him at his home recently, it was only a
> few days after the second Wal-Mart episode, and he insisted that an
> associate drive me while I wore a blindfold. He apologized for the
> inconvenience but said he couldn't take the chance that I might reveal
> where he lived. "They read, you know," he told me on the telephone,
> referring to Saddam's security men. "They look for clues."
> When I arrive a few days later, Hamza is waiting outside his house, wearing
> dark slacks and a white shirt. He is a short, stocky man, with black hair
> and dark, intense eyes. He suggests we drive to a restaurant nearby for
> lunch. There I begin to sense the loneliness of a defector's life. As we
> enter the restaurant, Hamza stops briefly to chat in Arabic with the owner,
> who is Palestinian. When he returns to the table, I ask Hamza if the owner
> ever asks him about his past. "They don't really ask questions," he says
> quietly. "If they do, I tell them I'm an ex-college professor from Iraq."
> Hamza shuns any contact with Iraqi opposition groups, convinced that they
> are thoroughly infiltrated by Saddam's agents. He is also leery of Iraqis
> working at gas stations and convenience stores; he fears they might serve
> as lookouts for Saddam. For the same reason, he stays away when Iraqi
> entertainers come to the Washington area.
> After lunch, Hamza takes me back to his house, a modest white rambler,
> where he introduces me to his wife, Souham, a composed, rather formal
> woman. She sets out coffee and a creme caramel she has prepared, then
> excuses herself, apologizing for a bad back.
> As Hamza tells it, he gave little thought to returning to Iraq after
> receiving his doctorate in physics from Florida State in 1968. But that was
> before an Iraqi agent came calling at tiny Fort Valley State College in
> Georgia, where Hamza was teaching in 1970. The agent made it clear that
> Hamza was expected to pay back government loans by working for the regime,
> increasingly dominated by Saddam, then Iraq's vice president. In a
> foretaste of Saddam's heavy-handed methods, the agent warned Hamza that his
> refusal could mean the arrest and torture of his father.
> At first, Hamza said, he was seduced by well-paid employment at a civilian
> center in Baghdad that researched the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. But
> after a year on the job, government agents presented him with another offer
> he couldn't refuse: a senior post on the secret team working to build a
> nuclear bomb. Refusal was never an option, as he understood after his first
> face-to-face encounter with Saddam. During an unannounced inspection of his
> new office, Saddam suddenly exploded in anger at Hamza for a seemingly
> harmless oversight - not framing some pictures of eminent scientists that
> had been tacked up on a wall outside his office.
> "Hours later, when my shakes finally went away, I figured it out," Hamza
> writes. "He'd sensed some independence in me, and made the only point he
> wanted to make: he was in charge. Anyone who challenged him did so at the
> risk of his life. It had nothing to do with the pictures. For months, at a
> distance, I had assessed him as rather clever. But now I saw he was a killer."
> Hamza says he and his fellow scientists were unwilling participants in the
> clandestine bomb program, kept in line by Saddam's punishments and rewards.
> He says Saddam ordered colleague after colleague dragged off to jail and
> severely beaten for failing to produce results. After their release, they
> would be placated with gifts of cash, cars and houses, "as if nothing had
> happened."
> In July 1979, just days after Saddam seized complete power from President
> Ahmed al-Bakr, a friendly official of the ruling Baath Party invited Hamza
> to watch a video. "He said I would find it interesting," Hamza says. The
> opening scene showed a smiling Saddam, surrounded by top party leaders,
> sitting in a large conference room at the Presidential Palace. Standing at
> a lectern, one of Saddam's aides read out a list of names of
> "conspirators." Saddam ordered them to stand, and armed guards pushed them
> through a side door. Though Hamza didn't know it at the time, he was
> watching Saddam's first major purge.
> "The next scene was in a courtyard," Hamza says. "All those who had been
> taken out of the conference room were there. Some were standing against the
> wall. Others were kneeling with their eyes blindfolded. Then the shooting
> started." The camera focused on those who were doing the shooting. "This
> was not a regular execution squad," Hamza says. "The shooters were party
> members, people I know. One of them was my own boss. People were being
> forced to shoot their own friends, people they had eaten with, gone out
> with, people they had known all their lives. Men were weeping."
> When the video was finished, Hamza says, the party official turned to him
> in disgust and said: "We are now cannibalizing ourselves. These are not
> people you don't know. These are your friends. One day, I might be asked to
> shoot you. And I would, because my own head would be on the line."
> With those grim images in his mind, Hamza focused all his energies on
> developing the bomb. He led secret missions to Europe and the former Soviet
> Union to acquire bomb technology, carefully covering his tracks to avoid
> assassination by Israeli agents. On trips to the United States, he was able
> to glean invaluable guidance by studying scientific journals and technical
> accounts of America's bomb effort, all of which were open to scholars. Even
> Israel's 1981 bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor failed to halt the
> program. If anything, Hamza says, it moved it into high gear as Saddam
> defiantly poured billions of dollars into the effort and threatened more
> torture for any scientist who faltered.
> Over the next decade, Hamza says, he reaped lavish rewards - new cars,
> money, membership in Baghdad's exclusive Hunting Club - as he climbed the
> ranks to director of weaponization. Thanks to Hamza's efforts, Iraq stood
> only a few months away from building a nuclear device when the allies began
> bombing during the gulf war.
> Finally, in 1993, two years after the war ended, the body of a senior
> nuclear procurement officer was found in a ditch, prompting Hamza to begin
> to plot his escape. But it was not until 1994 that he was able to slip out
> of Baghdad into the "no-fly zone" in northern Iraq, controlled by
> opposition groups with connections to the C.I.A. There, using an opposition
> leader's encrypted telephone, he contacted C.I.A. headquarters outside
> Washington to announce his readiness to defect. To Hamza's utter dismay,
> however, the C.I.A. turned down his offer. Now he was stranded, the clock
> ticking on how soon Saddam would notice his absence.
> Warren Marik, one C.I.A. officer who spoke to Hamza that day, told me, "We
> had no idea of his importance." But Marik, now retired from the agency,
> added that Hamza had another mark against him: the opposition figure who
> put him in contact with the C.I.A. - Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi
> National Congress, had fallen out of favor with the White House. Marik says
> the C.I.A. essentially dismissed Hamza as "unacceptable by association."
> Later, the C.I.A., realizing its mistake, brought him in from the cold, and
> later still arranged for the clandestine exfiltration of his family from
> As a matter of policy, the C.I.A. does not comment one way or the other on
> defectors. But a United States official, speaking on condition of
> anonymity, opened the door a crack to say that Hamza was "helpful to the
> community's understanding of weapons of mass destruction programs,
> specifically nuclear issues, and what Iraq was up to in the period he was
> A happy ending, of sorts. But like many defectors, Hamza remains tethered
> to his past, and the book is his attempt at redemption. "I did a tremendous
> amount of evil," he says. "Now I'm making up for it. It's one thing to know
> things from the inside. But it's another thing to say the things you know."
> In his book, Hamza is particularly critical of the International Atomic
> Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear programs around the world. He
> describes how Saddam's spies easily infiltrated the agency, enabling the
> regime to stay a step ahead of the inspectors. In the late 1970's, he says,
> Baghdad quietly cultivated a close relationship with the late Maurizio
> Zifferero, who represented Italian companies that built Iraq's plutonium
> separation plants. Later, Zifferero became the leader of the I.A.E.A.'s
> inspection team for Iraq. Hamza says that Saddam's top lieutenants referred
> to Zifferero as "our man at the I.A.E.A."
> Hamza maintains that it was only after his defection, and that of his
> former boss, Gen. Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, that inspectors
> learned the full extent of the nuclear program. (Promised amnesty by
> Saddam, Kamel returned to Iraq, where he was killed in a shootout with
> Iraqi security forces in 1996.) Hamza says it was his information that
> helped inspectors uncover Saddam's sprawling secret nuclear weapons center
> at Al Altheer, outside Baghdad, and other sites. Most important, Hamza says
> he was the first to identify Iraq's senior nuclear scientists and tell the
> C.I.A. where to find them. More than anything else, he asserts, it was the
> demands of the United Nations Special Commission's inspectors to know what
> these scientists were doing, as opposed to where weapons were hidden, that
> led Saddam to abort international inspections in late 1998.
> "For a while, it was successful," Hamza says of the inspectors' efforts
> after his briefings. "But it was probably too successful."
> The International Atomic Energy Agency won't comment on the specifics of
> Hamza's criticism. It denies that its inspectors were soft on Iraq before
> the war, saying that under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty they were
> allowed to inspect only those installations that Iraq had declared. As for
> Hamza's role in exposing Iraq's duplicity after the war, the organization
> says that he has exaggerated his importance.
> Meanwhile, there are signs that Saddam has resumed his nuclear weapons
> program, just as Hamza warned. Over the past six months, says Richard
> Butler, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, credible reports
> have been received indicating the movement of Iraqi atomic scientists and
> technicians to a site outside Baghdad. "They're domiciled there," Butler
> told me. "They sleep and eat there and work there. And that raises the
> question of whether they are back in the business of seeking to design and
> build a nuclear explosive device."
> Given that there is little prospect of resuming international inspections,
> Hamza, with the help of David Albright, an arms control specialist in
> Washington, has put together his own proposal for blocking Saddam: lift all
> sanctions against Iraq - provided Baghdad permits its senior nuclear
> scientists and their families to immigrate to the West. Hamza believes the
> resulting brain drain would thwart Saddam's nuclear aspirations for years
> to come. "Lifting of sanctions would be a big reward for Saddam," he
> argues. "At the same time, the loss of his scientists would be
> irreplaceable. He can replace equipment, but he can't replace scientists."
> As long as Saddam is in power, Hamza will face the question of whether the
> Iraqi leader will stand by while he speaks out - especially as Saddam shows
> new confidence over the end of weapons inspections and the failure of
> economic sanctions. "I worry a little more," says Albright, president of
> the Institute for Science and International Security. "Right now I don't
> think they would do anything. He's so public that it would be obvious that
> they assassinated him. What he has to worry about is what looks like an
> accidental death, and I think he should protect himself carefully."
> Hamza says he has been receiving anonymous and untraceable calls on his
> unlisted telephone number from people speaking Iraqi-accented Arabic. "They
> say things like, We know you are an American agent' or just, You're dead,"'
> he says. Hamza is reluctant to seek F.B.I. protection, fearful that it
> might draw attention to him.
> Hamza says he'll probably move soon, a change he and his wife have been
> considering for some time. His plans to promote his memoir with advertised
> bookstore appearances and lectures might have to be altered or shelved
> entirely. Hamza's situation now resembles that of another author, Salman
> Rushdie, whose book "The Satanic Verses" earned him a public death sentence
> from Iranian religious authorities, who considered it blasphemous.
> As much as he hates Saddam, Hamza still sees the wisdom in a remark the
> dictator made in one of their meetings. "He once told me: If you are a
> believer in God, and you get killed following a certain path, then you are
> rewarded with heaven and you are a great man. But you are a greater man if
> you are not a believer. Because then you do it out of personal commitment.
> You know there is no reward on the other side.'
> "I do what I do not because I expect some reward in heaven," Hamza insists.
> He smiles confidently. He is not a very religious man. Nevertheless, for
> Khidhir Hamza, the price of redemption seems to be rising.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> Jonathan Broder is a Washington-based correspondent for and a
> senior writer for The Jerusalem Report. [<]
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
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