Iraq Official: Saddam Moved WMD to Syria The former number two official in Saddam Hussein's Iraqi air force claims the former Iraqi dictator moved weapons of mass destruction from Iraq to Syria in the months preceding the current Iraq war.
Georges Sada revealed the charges in an interview Wednesday with the New York Sun. They are detailed in his new book, "Saddam’s Secrets.” "Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Sada told the Sun. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.”
The former Iraqi general said Special Republican Guard brigades loaded WMDs onto two converted Iraqi Airways planes. He said he was told of the operation by two pilots that helped transport the materials. Sada says 56 flights were made, and were accompanied by a ground convoy of trucks carrying similar materials. The Sun reports that the flights attracted scant international attention because they occurred at the same time that Iraq was sending relief to Syria for a dam collapse. Sada’s claims echoed those made by Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s top general in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yaalon told the Sun in December that Saddam had "transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria.”
According to the Middle East Quarterly, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon issued a similar warning in a Dec. 23, 2002 television appearance on Israel’s Channel 2.
"Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria,” Sharon said. Together, their claims challenge the conventional wisdom in the United States and Europe that pre-war intelligence estimates were incorrect in suggesting the mass-murdering Iraqi dictator either possessed or was close to possessing WMDs.
Even President Bush has conceded the point, telling Americans in a televised address in December, "It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.” Recent reports by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard have similarly challenged the conventional wisdom on Saddam’s relationships with al-Qaida. Hayes is calling for the release of approximately 2 million unclassified documents recovered in Iraq from the Hussein regime. He claims the documents could prove Saddam maintained significant contacts with al-Qaida.
Sada’s and Yaalon’s claims will be even more difficult, if not impossible, to prove, but several U.S. Senators will try to get to the bottom of the claims. Sada is scheduled to meet with Senators Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., next week. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.