Skip to comments.Iraqi WMD Debate and Intelligence: the Links to Libya
Posted on 12/08/2005 2:20:53 PM PST by SBD1
Libya Studies January 30, 2004
Iraqi WMD Debate and Intelligence: the Links to Libya
Anaysis. By Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS. Discussion and analysis of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs relating to the former Iraqi Administration of Pres. Saddam Hussein has seriously and virtually from the beginning missed the point. By focusing entirely on Iraqi WMD programs within the physical borders of Iraq, and by refusing to discuss contextual issues, the arguments missed the point that the bulk of the Iraqi WMD work since 1991 was conducted outside the borders of the country, this being a result of the lesson which Saddam derived from the 1991 Coalition war against him.
There is a very substantial, historical chain of intelligence much of which has been cited and verified by Global Information System (GIS) HUMINT sources over the past 14 years and some of which has been verified by external sources resoundingly confirming this position, which can be summarized as follows:
1. Documents Moved to Syria: In essence, documentation of that small portion of the WMD program which was administered directly in Iraq was moved, along with other sensitive material and resources, to the Hshishi Compound at al-Qamishli (Kamishli) in Syria, just near the Iraqi border, in August-September 2002. This was noted by GIS at that time.1
2. R&D Conducted in Libya: The great bulk of the work on WMD and on associated missile delivery systems, however, was conducted since 1991 in a partnership with Libya, and also with Egypt, at facilities in Libya, in order to keep the programs away from US and United Nations (UN) probes. That, too, was noted by GIS.2
Assuming that these two points can be demonstrated, does this, then, constitute a failure of US, British and other foreign intelligence? Or does it constitute a failure not just of intelligence, but also a failure of policymakers and policy-level managers of the intelligence communities in the West to allow or encourage an examination of the Iraq situation within a broader strategic context?
From 1991 onwards, Saddam was principally focused on the fact that the UN had a mandate a search warrant to inspect all of the physical territory of Iraq. That meant that maintaining any meaningful research and development (R&D) facilities or test capabilities on prohibited weapons within the borders of the country would be virtually impossible. But, given that the search warrant extended only within the confines of Iraq, it was logical and expedient that any WMD R&D should be conducted under Iraqi control, but outside the countrys borders.
Moreover, once this decision was taken, and implemented, it was important to sustain the focus of UN inspections on Iraqi territory and to discourage inspections or analysis on weapons programs elsewhere. This meant that Iraqi weapons programs or hints about them within Iraq had to be sufficiently enigmatic as to attract attention; the game had to be drawn out, and no suspicion should be allowed to fall on external programs.
Given the billions of dollars which Saddam had invested in WMD, and the fact that WMD and associated delivery systems represented his only chance at strategic independence, it was inconceivable that he would not have engaged in massive strategic deception operations in the hope that, as partially demonstrated in 1991, once the US/West/UN had gone through Iraq as comprehensively as possible, he would then be free to re-import his strategic capacity, by that time at a proven and operational level. This option was lost, however, not because the US George W. Bush Administration was aware at the White House level of the specifics of the deception and re-deployment of WMD programs, but because of the intuitive belief by the White House that Pres. Saddam was engaged in a strategic-level build-up which threatened the region and Western interests.
Saddam utilized his best efforts and international contacts and alliances to limit the scope of debate and UN inspections to an extremely finite set of conditions, all of which focused solely on the Iraqi territory. In this, he was almost totally successful.
However, there were numerous failures to maintain the total secrecy of his actions at an operational intelligence level. This may have been inevitable, given the scope of the WMD programs being conducted in Libya, for example, where an estimated Iraqi workforce of up to 20,000 scientists, engineers and workers were engaged in WMD and missile development, and in other countries, such as Mauritania (intended as a launch site for ballistic missiles to threaten the US), where Iraqi intelligence officials were conducting aspects of the strategy.3
What has emerged from the pattern of intelligence available is that Pres. Saddam took the opportunity, possibly shortly after the 1991 defeat of his Armed Forces in the first US-led Coalition war against Iraq in 1990-91, to move his WMD programs to one or more safe havens abroad. It was known, even at that point, that Iraq maintained extensive deployments of forces and some basing inside Sudan, and that Saddam and Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi were closely aligned in that they perceived threats from the same quarters: (a) the United States, and (b) radical Islamists. Equally, they increasingly came to the same view that they needed to work with the Islamists because the various Islamist groups ranging from Osama bin Ladens organization to the Iranian-led Shia groups also felt threatened by, and hostile to, the United States.
The thread of a common enemy has historically woven groups together, and this has been consistently evident in Iraqi relations with radical Islamist militant groups, including those of Iraqs geopolitical rival, Iran. Significantly, Libyan leader Qadhafi, although concerned about the threats to himself from Islamism, had consistently maintained strong relations with the Iranian clerical leadership, again based on the concept that they both faced a mutual and overwhelming enemy in the US. Libyas supporting rôle in the bombing of Pan Am flight PA103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, was directly at the request of Iran (and Irans proxy, Syria), for example, something which has gradually been acknowledged by the US Intelligence Community.
On November 8, 2000, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily noted:
The Libyan acquisition of NoDong-1 SSMs is the result of a joint Egyptian-Iraqi-Libyan crash program to overcome delays in production of indigenous SSMs. Initially, the Egyptians and the Iraqis wanted to expedite the production of their own missile in Libya. Cairo arranged for Tripoli to provide cover for the revival of the Badr/Condor program which could no longer take place in Iraq and now also not in Egypt because of the exposure by the US of the North Korean (DPRK) rôle and a consequent US pressure to stop the program. Therefore, the Libyans initiated their relations with the DPRK on behalf of Cairo and Baghdad.
That report, by GIS Senior Editor Yossef Bodansky, and based on known and reliable intelligence sources, continued:
... [I]n the late Summer of 1999, Cairo and Baghdad urged Tripoli to purchase North Korean NoDong-1 SSMs on their behalf with the idea that Libya would keep a few of them for its own use. At the behest of Pres. Mubarak and Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein, Col. Qadhafi instructed General Abu-Bakr Jabir, the Libyan Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff who also holds overall responsibility for the Libyan missile program to personally devise a more direct way to acquire these missiles. Desperate for hard currency, Pyongyang expressed willingness to deliver numerous NoDong-1 SSMs the moment hard currency was delivered in a safe laundered method. A North Korean delegation arrived in Tripoli to discuss the operational requirements and, in October 1999, General Abu-Bakr Jabir signed a deal with them for the supply of NoDong-1s and related technological expertise. In the Tripoli negotiations, the Libyans stressed the imperative to have the missiles deployed operationally immediately after their arrival in Libya.
What is significant about the flow of intelligence which GIS has obtained on Libya, Iraq, Egypt and other regional states on this matter over more than a decade is that most of it derives from GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs own human intelligence (HUMINT) networks, which have been developed privately since the beginning of the 1970s. This has been coupled with reporting from other intelligence agencies which has often confirmed aspects of the total picture. What is also significant is that the US intelligence services in particular, and, to a lesser extent, the UK, have failed to sustain any continuity or depth of HUMINT collection in Libya. As well, US HUMINT with regard to Iraq has been patchy at best, varying from non-existent to massive and sudden build-ups. The result has been a lack of historical knowledge and a lack of broader contextual appreciation. Most specialists brought by US services onto the Iraq problem, when it periodically re-emerged, were either not experienced in Libyan issues, and were most importantly told strictly to confine their activities to the territory of Iraq or to Iraqi officials visibly able to be identified abroad.
During the Cold War, US intelligence and policy officials and diplomats vied to work on the main threat: the Soviet Union. The intelligence, diplomatic and threat assessment community remains in the same mode: career paths are associated with participation in the main threat. After September 11, 2001, this became perceived as Islamist-based terrorism and Iraq. All other areas, even when they related to the main threat, were dismissed or ignored, unless a policy directive from the highest levels explicitly demanded investigation of a link.
This remained particularly true of intelligence relating to Libya, which was considered by the US intelligence community to be a dead issue, largely based on two criteria: the fact that the White House ignored it, and the fact that Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi said that he had renounced terrorism and radical strategic ambitions. In fact, evidence shows that Qadhafis ongoing and unrealistic belief that the US would repeat its military attacks of the Reagan era (April 14,-15, 1986) led him to make constant gestures of rapprochement and reconciliation with the US and UK while he continued, with as much secrecy as possible, on the path of strategic weapons development and in the conduct of destabilizing political actions in a wide range of countries, from South Africa and the Philippines to Ethiopia, Somaliland, Mauritania, and so on.
GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs carried extensive intelligence, based on reporting from within the Libyan leadership and Qadhafis family circles as well as other Libyan sources, repeatedly detailing the Libyan strategic weapons programs, including the missile developments involving Iraq, Egypt, Iran and North Korea (DPRK), and WMD programs (particularly chemical and biological weapons) conducted with Iraq and Egypt. These were consistently ignored by the US intelligence and diplomatic community, despite very specific references which should have triggered a verification process, and particularly as the US State Dept. and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) committed themselves to a rapprochement and normalization of ties with the Qadhafi Administration based on an admission of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing.
[Significantly, on January 28, 2004, The Washington Post, quoting unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials, named Dr Abdul Qadir Khan and Mohammad Farooq as the two men who acted as middlemen to supply nuclear weapons technology to Iran and Libya. One of the officials involved in the current investigation said that while the money trail provided some of the evidence against Dr Khan and Mr Farooq, the most damaging information was given by Iran and Libya to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), which then passed it along to Pakistani authorities.]
Only a refusal by the US Congress and the White House to accept the State and CIA approach on forgiveness of Qadhafi for the Lockerbie bombing stopped the Lockerbie settlement from leading to a normalization of US-Libya relations. This led to the belief by Qadhafi by now, in 2003, seriously ill with cancer that the Bush Administration had targeted Libya for military action. By this point, as well, Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein had ceased to be a factor. It was clear that, despite the presence of numerous Saddam family members in Libya,4 Saddams capture by US forces meant that the alliance on strategic weapons would now come to nothing.
Significantly, as long as Saddam Hussein had eluded capture by US forces, Qadhafi did nothing to reveal, or to stop, the missile and WMD programs which were underway inside Libya, and which were supported by a major core of Iraqi and Egyptian scientists. Even well after the defeat of Iraqi military forces but while the Arab world continued to believe, to some extent, that Iraqi guerilla forces would rise up and expel the Coalition occupying forces, the plan which Saddam himself had put in place in November 20025 and conveyed to his close associates, presumably including Qadhafi Libya persisted with plans designed to make the WMD programs strategically effective.
One such ongoing plan was the attempt to overthrow the Government of Mauritania. Pres. Saddam had long realized that Iraqi technology would not, in the foreseeable future, be able to lengthen the range and payload to the point where they could credibly threaten US and European targets of the family of ballistic missiles which Iraq had developed based on original Soviet Scud ballistic missile technology and on Scud-derived NoDong missiles. In order to achieve a viable platform from which to reach the US, he planned to subvert Mauritania. To that end, he had begun the process of winning over the Mauritanian Armed Forces, initially through gifts of old tanks, and then through training programs in Iraq, under which Mauritanian military officers were brought into the Baath Party ideology.
Saddam, however, needed the help as well of Libya and Libyan-linked Islamists to attempt the coup. Libya had a long history of attempting to overthrow the Mauritanian Government. [See History section, GIS Mauritania country study.] But with the conventional war in Iraq over by April 2003, and the value of the multi-billion dollar investments by Iraq, Libya and others in the Libya-based WMD/missile programs now open to question, Qadhafi, using his management of the Mauritania coup planning, caused the pro-Iraqi Baathists in the Mauritanian Army to work with Libyan and Islamist figures to utilize this last opportunity to seize power in Mauritania.6
The last-ditch coup attempt in Mauritania failed, and details of Baathist and Libyan involvement were to gradually emerge as the Government of Mauritanian Pres. Col. Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya tracked down, arrested and prosecuted the coup plotters through 2003. By late 2003, then, Qadhafi was faced with the fact that the WMD program had lost its principal sponsor, and he was faced with the fact that many thousands of Iraqi employees in Libya were now not being paid; and that the WMD program had lost its potential to achieve strategic leverage and that, in fact, the linkage between Saddam and Qadhafi was now a major liability and an actual cassus belli for the US to use to attack Libya militarily.
The Egyptian Government came to the same conclusion and may have already withdrawn its officials engaged in the Badr/Condor missile program aspects of the project at al-Kufrah, in Libya near the Egyptian border. Indeed, it may have been an Egyptian withdrawal which triggered Qadhafi, in 2003, to seek support and to enquire about acquisition of new, longer-range ballistic missiles Shahab-3s from Iran rather than persist in attempting to improve the range of the NoDong-1s which Libya acquired for the coalition of Iraq, Egypt and Libya from the DPRK in 2000.7
By late 2003, there was no chance that the WMD program could be successfully implemented by Libya alone. Qadhafi, as well was terminally ill, and there was increasing infighting among his family over the succession, particularly challenging for Saif al-Islam, the son who was named heir, and who lacked a power base at home. Saif al-Islam knew that the only chance of a stable succession lay in convincing the US, UK and EU states that Libya would, under him, move to a new era of conventional government, so that the major foreign powers would provide him with the power base and protection which he lacked at home. Older members of the revolutionary clique around Qadhafi complained that Saif al-Islam persuaded Qadhafi to make the statement on November 19, 2003, in which he renounced WMD.
It is critical to bear in mind that for the preceding decade and more, Qadhafi had consistently denied that he was engaged in WMD programs, denying also any links with Islamist terrorists or terrorists of any kind. This lie was accepted by the international policy community, and yet when Qadhafi admitted what GIS had long said was the case that such Libyan WMD programs did, in fact, exist8 he was greeted as a reformer by the UK Government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, and also by some US politicians. Equally significant is the fact that Qadhafi had ensured that, through the Lockerbie settlement, significant funds (up to $900-million) were to go to Washington and New York law firms, providing a pressure point on Washington policymakers of almost unprecedented levels. For many politicians, there was more to be gained by carefully assisting Qadhafi than in exposing him.
Qadhafis sole remaining option, by the end of 2003, if he was to avoid the risk of a US attack and if he wished to see Saif al-Islam succeed him, was to abandon the decades of work and billions of dollars he had poured into WMD and missile programs and into his links with radical Islamist groups. In so doing, he could (and it appears has been successful to) pre-empt US political investigations which would ultimately have tied Libyan WMD programs into those of Iraq (and Egypt). He has not, however, abandoned other work with many African radical groups, including insurgent groups in Darfor, Sudan, terrorists and insurgents in Ethiopia and aimed at Somaliland (which dominates the egress of the Red Sea).9
Among the additional intelligence which began to point in recent years to the fact that Iraq had moved its WMD and missile programs offshore was the involvement of officers of the Iraqi Navy in the strategic weapons programs in Iraq, despite the fact that the Iraqi Navy, to all intents, effectively ceased to exist as a result of the Coalitions actions against it in 1991.10 It became clear that these naval officers were engaged in the clandestine movement of personnel, equipment and other resources to and possibly from Libya in the years following the 1991 Gulf War, and perhaps earlier.
The fact that some significant strategic matériel, including weapons, documents and other matter, had gone to Syria before the Coalition began military operations in Iraq had, by late 2003, become accepted, and had, as well, been confirmed by a high-level Syrian defector. But apart from the initial note of the transfers of this material by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily of October 28, 2002, footnoted  below, the physical presence of theater ballistic weapons which may or may not have had chemical and/or biological warheads was noted by Australian Special Forces troops during the war. The mobile ballistic systems had been moved into Syria before hostilities began, and had moved back into Western Iraq on the night of March 27-28, 2003, in order to assume firing positions against Israel. The actions of the Australian Special Forces drove the missile batteries back into Syria.11
GIS reports in 2003 also questioned the rôle of the UNs International Atomic Energy Agency leader, Mohamed el-Baradei, in suppressing or manipulating intelligence and perceptions relating to the Iraqi and Libyan WMD programs. Significantly, el-Baradei attempted to interpose himself into the Libyan situation following Qadhafis December 19, 2003, announcement that he was relinquishing his WMD programs. This appeared to be an attempt to stage-manage the closure of the Libyan WMD programs in such a way that Egyptian and Iraqi involvement was denied. [Dr el-Baradei is himself an Egyptian.]
Dr el-Baradei and others claimed, following the announcement by Qadhafi, that the WMD programs were at least five years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. The truth is that nuclear weapons capability, while not imminent, was when the Iraqi and Egyptian scientific and financial backing were engaged significantly closer than five years. However, it is true that the jointly-owned (Iraqi, Egyptian, Libyan) NoDong-1 missile batteries were already capable of strategically threatening southern European targets with chemical, and possibly biological weapons. Libyan and Iraqi scientists had already shown a significant capability to weaponize chemicals and possibly biological agents. As of 2000, they had a longer-range ballistic delivery system available to them than they had ever before possessed.
It is significant that Israeli intelligence sources pointed out that when the batteries of NoDong-1s became active in 2000, they were targeted at Southern European cities, not at Israel. This may have been out of concern that knowledge of targeting of Israel by the systems would have provoked a pre-emptive Israeli strike.
The clear, and now mounting, evidence that Iraq and Libya had sought to seize power indirectly in Mauritania so that they could use it as a launch site to threaten the US once longer-range missiles were developed from the basic NoDong-1s, as was being attempted and that this indicated a readiness date which was sooner, rather than later. The evidence suggests that while Qadhafi and Saddam may not have contemplated a war with the US, they did, however, believe that having a viable nuclear capability would buy them protection and invulnerability to US interference in their activities. There is clear evidence, as well, that the DPRK Administration of Kim Jong-Il and the Iranian clerical leadership today also accepts this logic: nuclear weapons and an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system guarantees invulnerability from US attack. In the case of Iraq and Libya, the move to Mauritania was meant to compensate for the fact that true ICBM capability would take too long to develop, and therefore a launch facility closer to the US was required.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that earlier, contextual analysis and a broader understanding of underlying issues and relationships of Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein and his peers in the region (as well as in the DPRK) could have assisted in providing better operational intelligence which could have enabled a more efficient conduct of the war. In this, there was a clear failure of intelligence, but more particularly of intelligence direction at a political and policy level, both in the US and in the UK. The ongoing refusal to acknowledge the rôle of Libya and Col. Qadhafi in the broader picture was also partly attributable to financial and commercial incentives being offered to the UK and US (as had earlier been successfully undertaken by Libya with regard to Italy, France and Germany).
The current refusal to acknowledge the regional linkages which tie the Saddam Administration in closely with the actions of Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt and the Palestinian and other subsidiary subnational or transnational groups (including al-Qaida) is, to a large extent, governed in the US by the fact that there is strong pressure, not least from the US State Dept. and Secretary of State Colin Powell, not to widen the war in the face of international and domestic pressures. However, this position significantly hurts the incumbent US Bush Administration, which took a major political gamble by taking the war to Iraq based on an intuitive understanding of the threat which Saddam Hussein posed to regional and Western interests.
For many career intelligence and diplomatic officials, acknowledgement of the Iraq-Libya-Egypt-Iran-DPRK linkages (but particularly Iraq-Libya), at this stage, would be embarrassing. These officials have chosen the approach that, if all goes well, the Libya problem will now go away, albeit leaving a considerable gap in the public knowledge which could be politically beneficial to the re-election of US Pres. George W. Bush.
Imagine that such a thing should happen during the time we were messing around attempting to get UN approval.
FYI. Interesting, and makes a lot of sense. Especially when one thinks about Libya's "Oh, here's our WMD program"....
I still think that is what Qadafi gave up when he turned over his nuke program. He had the hot potato in his lap and didn't want it any more.
The truth about this work in WMDs needs to be made public. I would like to know when some public news source is going to look into this.
Is this a respectable source (Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily)? I never heard of it.
this i believe, is only the tip of the iceberg. worse than that... tis is what is being seen years after the fact.
the question that begs is.... who picked up the ball and where did they take it to?
not only that you note the islamic conspiracy who dropped one partner momar, then had another partner removed (saddam), who else was/is involved? Is this the reason why Iran walks so funny and is so verbose? how about bellicose?
the releases are way too late
We've seen this before, but there is some additional detail here. The jist is that Libya's nuclear weapons program was Saddam's weapons program. It was also Egypt's. It doesn't say so here, but I have seen references elsewhere suggesting that the Saudis had an interest as well.
We've seen references elsewhere that Libya's uranium was shipped under the table from Niger (among other places in Africa) which adds an additional level of interest to the Saddam/France/Niger story.
There are no doubts in my mind, that this (Iraq/Syria event) was "observed and verified".
This led to the belief by Qadhafi by now, in 2003, seriously ill with cancer that the Bush Administration had targeted Libya for military action.
As in "give it up, Libya".
"The North Koreans have been selling missiles for years to many countries," one senior Bush administration official said recently, referring to the country's well-known sales to Iran, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan and other nations. "Now, we have to look at their trading network in a very different context, to see if something much worse was happening as well."
APRIL? 2000 : (TAIWANESE BUSINESSMAN ON HIS WAY TO LIBYA IS ARRRESTED WITH NORTH KOREAN PARTS FOR SCUD MISSILES IN HIS BAGS) Three months later [after UK police intercept N Korean missile parts on their way to Libya] , a 44-year-old Taiwanese businessman was arrested at Zurichs airport with three cast-iron parts for Scud missiles in his bags. The man, who was traveling to Libya, was released two months later and sent back to Taiwan. He told Swiss authorities he was only a courier and had no idea what the parts were used for.- "Uncrating a sea-going missile factory : Indian officials find Scud components aboard N. Korean ship, " FIRST OF TWO ARTICLES, By Joby Warrick, THE WASHINGTON POST, via MSNBCnews
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