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The following on the Galloway controversy acknowledges both sides of the MP's media image ... the humanitarian whose rhetoric can be genuinely thrilling, and the high-living, vainglorious MP. Galloway's reactions in the report mirror my own. This report notes Galloway himself found the narrative of the Telegraph's documents somewhat believable (despite their miraculous discovery), leading him to speculate that he'd been betrayed by intermediaries. But the ludicrous details of the second discovery (by the respected Christian Science Monitor) are certainly the effort of a forger, according to Galloway and, I suspect, to most dispassionate observers. The contents of the second discovery undercut the credibility of the first. Of intense interest to many is an update concerning Mariam Hamza (referred to as "Mariam Hussein"). Reading between the lines below, it appears that she and her family survived the war. Quoted in the article, "Galloway says Mariam is still being supported. 'She still gets all her medicine, her house, her clothes, her education, her special blind needs [she recovered from the leukaemia, but it left her without sight] her family get fed and clothed, and in addition to all of that she gets $100 a month -- which is three times the average Iraqi wage.'" It would be interesting to hear further updates, however ... Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA === http://www.sundayherald.com/33356 'Now I'm certain ... all these documents are forged' Allegations that George Galloway received $10m from Saddam have convinced the Glasgow MP that he's the victim of a conspiracy. He explains why to Westminster Editor James Cusick Accused of pocketing $10 million over 10 years in the payroll of one of history's most hated dictators, most politicians would be on the verge of a breakdown. But for George Galloway the allegations published in a Boston newspaper at the end of a momentous week 'came as a slight relief', ending, he claimed, the lingering doubts that 'maybe someone inside the Iraqi regime itself was pretending to be doing things in support of me and making off with the cash'. In a script worthy of John le Carrˇ or Len Deighton, reports last week suggested Iraqi spy masters, the Iraqi president, senior Iraqi politicians, an Iraqi general, the president's son and Middle East businessmen had all created a mesh of covert financial intrigue which, if true, will destroy Galloway. Documents found in Baghdad's bombed foreign ministry and published last Tuesday by The Daily Telegraph claimed the Glasgow MP had effectively been on Saddam Hussein's payroll for a decade and had been given a slice of oil-for-food earnings totalling £375,000. Days later a Boston newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor (CSM), dwarfed the Telegraph's 'scoop' by claiming documents found in a house belonging to Saddam's son Qusay, showed payments totalling $10m paid to Galloway from 1992 to this year. In the CSM report, Qusay's accounts department is told by him to 'issue the check and deliver to Mr George Galloway -- do this fast and inform me'. Learning the full content of the CSM report, Galloway says this has moved the case against him 'from tragedy to farce', adding: 'I'm now clear. I am the target of a systematic campaign of forgery.' Before the arrival of the $10m allegations, Galloway's initial belief that all the Telegraph's documents were forgeries was beginning to slip. He was coming round to the idea that he may have been set up from the inside, and had begun backtracking, considering that the Telegraph's material may have been genuine. No longer. The CSM account puts Galloway in Iraq in 1992, lists meetings with Qusay Hussein, and talks of issued cheques. Claiming the report is a farce, he adds : 'It talks of cheques. But the whole point of sanctions is that Iraq has no banking facilities. The only way of cashing a cheque is to go to a bank in one of the presidential palaces, so why bother with the cheque? And I never set foot in Iraq till 1993. No-one had heard of me in Iraq in 1992.' Should it come to court, Galloway's libel action may become one of the most high-profile cases in legal history. If his holiday home in Portugal feels like 'a besieged fortress', as he said, he better get used to the idea. In a telephone interview lasting almost an hour and a half , Galloway reveals that he understands his personal future, his political career, every aspect of his life, public and private -- will be laid bare. All his energy and all his campaigning will go on hold. The bottom line? If he doesn't tell it straight from now, he'll be destroyed. He says: 'I now face a long and tedious process of putting together my case [he intends to sue The Daily Telegraph and will seek leave in the High Court in London to pursue the CSM outside the jurisdiction of British courts]. And will that hamstring me politically? Of course it will.' His case preparations, he adds, are not going to begin in Iraq. ' All the people I knew in government in Iraq are either dead or under American custody or missing.' Galloway -- often referred to as the MP for Baghdad Central -- had, he admits, access to core figures in Saddam's government. He now admits he may have been in Iraq on Boxing Day in 1999. The Telegraph's document-based account highlights a memorandum from the chief of Iraqi intelligence, the Mukhabarat. It outlines a meeting between Galloway and an Iraqi spy. Galloway 'detailed his campaign plans for the year ahead', according to the account. The contact then wrote to his superior that Galloway 'needs continuous financial support from Iraq.' Galloway's old passport is at his home in Streatham. It won't be hard for him to verify, but he believes he 'spent Christmas day with Tariq Aziz', the former Iraqi foreign minister who last week surrendered himself to US authorities in Baghdad. The two men attended mass in the capital's Roman Catholic cathedral. Christmas lunch at Aziz's home followed, and a party was held that night. The implication? If Galloway wanted more cash, he could go straight to the top -- Aziz, even Saddam himself, and not bother with intelligence minions. Galloway says the British government was aware of where he spent that Christmas and with whom. He says he privately told Peter Hain, the then minister at the Foreign Office for Middle East affairs, and suggested opening a channel of dialogue as a means of resolving the Iraqi crisis. 'Hain agreed we should start such a dialogue.' A month later, according to Galloway, Hain had begun briefing journalists that Galloway was 'close' to Tariq Aziz. In another of the Telegraph's documents found in the foreign ministry, a letter has Galloway identifying his 'representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning my work with the Mariam Appeal or the Emergency Committee in Iraq'. Galloway's intermediary was Fawaz Zureikat. In the Telegraph letter Zureikat is quoted as effectively pleading for a Galloway pay rise. So was Zureikat using Galloway's name for financial gain for himself? 'No, I never for a minute suspected he would have. [Zureikat] was a very prominent person in Iraq long before he met me. He'd been doing business in Iraq since 1986. He had no need of me to make him a bigger man.' Galloway recalls that Zureikat had once shared a prison cell in Syria with Tariq Aziz, the implication being that the two men share a common bond and that Zureikat 'does not need George Galloway'. But Galloway did use the financial help of Zureikat, a man he met through his Jerusalem-born wife, Dr Amineh Abu-Sayyad, a relative of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. Galloway separated from his first wife in 1987, and divorced 12 years later. He married Sayyad in 2000 . The two years before his second marriage will be central to the dissection of Galloway's financial affairs. The investigation that promises to be a key part of the libel case concerns a child lying in a Baghdad hospital suffering leukaemia. In 1998 Galloway launched a public appeal to bring the child, Mariam Hussein, to Britain for specialist treatment. He claimed uranium-tipped weapons used during the Gulf war in 1991 had been a contributory cause to her illness. The high- profile campaign promised to first save Mariam then with residual funds help others in the same situation. However, from an initial humani tarian appeal Galloway appeared to change its nature into a highly politicised anti-sanctions campaign. And because Galloway had never registered it formally as a charity, there was no public scrutiny of its books. Now both the attorney-general's office and the Charity Commission have Mariam under the microscope. The questions are clear enough: did Galloway steer it well clear of formal charitable status to avoid financial scrutiny? And was it used to deliver money from Zureikat that came directly from the Iraqi regime? Galloway is adamant: 'It was always a political campaign from the very beginning. It was not charitable, it was humanitarian.' He says it was 'preposterous' to claim he never wanted the accounts made public. 'Look at the press treatment when we brought Mariam back. Everyone was accusing me of politically campaigning. No-one was saying, 'Look there's George Galloway bringing this girl back for charitable purposes.'' Zureikat also claims he never traded in oil and never received any Iraqi money that was supposed to be channelled to Galloway. But openness there will be, especially during the dissections that will legally accompany the libel case. Galloway seems prepared. 'Every single journey [to Middle East countries and beyond made in connection with the Mariam anti-sanctions campaign] now being referred to as a revelation, has been systematically registered in the House of Commons register year after year. And there had not been a whisper of complaint.' So where did the money inside the campaign come from? Galloway admits that 'not many people gave money' and the 'vast bulk' came from only three sources, one being Zureikat. He delivers the arithmetic: 'Around £500,000 came from the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia gave £100,000 and, of the total, £900,000 -- the bulk -- came from Zureikat.' Zureikat, based in Jordan, was recently arrested along with other prominent businessmen who had financial links with Saddam Hussein's regime. He has since been released. The traditional paranoia of the left emerges when Galloway tries to explain why he didn't want the Mariam accounts out in public display. 'Just like the Socialist Worker Party would not publish its accounts to the Institute of Directors, or open its books to the Daily Mail, neither would we, we are not obliged to.' That privacy will now go. 'In the libel case,' he promises, 'every jot and tittle will be in front of the judge.' Despite some reports to the contrary, Galloway says Mariam is still being supported. 'She still gets all her medicine, her house, her clothes, her education, her special blind needs [she recovered from the leukaemia, but it left her without sight] her family get fed and clothed, and in addition to all of that she gets $100 a month -- which is three times the average Iraqi wage.' Asked if there was anyone involved in the running of the appeal who received money from the Iraqi government, Galloway is clear: 'No, never.' Privacy for Galloway's own finances will also soon go. Asked if he would open all his accounts, he says: 'Don't accentuate the 'all'. I've only got one account in Britain [held at the Co-operative Bank in Glasgow] and one holiday account in Portugal which contains Ū500. There are no hidden accounts in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands.' On his own assets, he admits only two properties. A house in Streatham in London bought in 1996 for £220,000, with a mortgage of £290,000 (recently valued at £500,000). His home in Burgau on the Algarve cost £82,000 when bought in 1998. It has a mortgage of £76,000 (recently valued at £125,000). 'I have no other houses.' He drives an N-registration Mercedes (bought from MP Jimmy Wray) and has an N-registration Range Rover kept in Portugal. He admits to owning one share in a company called AVL Media, described in the Companies House register as a 'motion picture and video production/radio and television activities/news agency activities'. AVL's director is Ron McKay, a journalist (and occasional Sunday Herald contributor) and long-term friend of Galloway's. McKay's other broadcasting venture is ATV (Arab Television), a London-based satellite channel that filmed and distributed the worldwide rights to the pre-war interview conducted in Baghdad between Tony Benn and Saddam Hussein. Profit ATV made from that interview has been kept private. Industry sources say that global media interest could have delivered a multi-million pound profit. McKay in a newspaper interview says the figure is below £500,000. AVL Media is listed with a book value of £35,320. Galloway says: 'I've never made a penny from AVL.' He admits to two salaries: one from being an MP (£50,000 a year) and another from a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, 'which last year gave me £82,000'. He adds: 'I don't own anything else. There is no cafˇ in Cuba or anywhere else.' On the Pakistan-sponsored London-based newspaper, East, which Galloway helped set up and staff, he claimed to have 'never received a penny'. An extensive investigation by BBC Newsnight into East -- focusing on 'lobbying' money totalling £360,00 -- eventually determined that despite suspect judgement by Galloway, he received no money for his own benefit. Similarly, an investigation into the charity War on Want by the Charity Commission in 1991 found 'mis management' during the period when Galloway was general secretary. The report said Galloway lacked 'expertise in crucial areas', had mingled his own funds with the charity funds, and had failed to keep separate accounts. But the charity's own investigation cleared Galloway, saying he had repaid the money spent on his own, rather than the charity's business. These two episodes highlight Galloway's ability to both get into deep water and to get out of it unscathed. This time, the allegations against him are on a different scale. He says: 'Michael Foot [the former Labour leader] called me, offering his full support. He said he cannot remember, and he is an old man, any politician who has ever been more gravely libelled. 'Foot was smeared by Sunday Times as a Soviet agent,' recalls Galloway. 'And going back to the Zinoviev letter [a 1924 British intelligence forgery that destroyed the re-election chances for Ramsay MacDonald's Labour-led government], people on the left have been smeared in this way.' Galloway adds: 'Forgery is salient to the entire Iraq issue, everything from the so-called dossier, to fake invoices for uranium from Niger, now discredited and under investigation by the UN.' If so, is there more to come? 'Frankly,' shrugs Galloway. 'I don't know what will come next -- illicitly marrying a camel ... who knows?' _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk