The Jerusalem Post is passing along a Lebanese news report with a strange element of dÃ©jÃ vu.
Lebanese daily says 20 trucks crossed into Iraq last week, bearing equipment and material used for manufacturing chemical weapons.
Syria has moved 20 trucks worth of equipment and material used for the manufacturing of chemical weapons into neighboring Iraq, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal reported on Sunday.
The government in Baghdad has denied allegations that it is helping the Syrian government conceal chemical stockpiles.
The report came just a day after the United States and Russia struck a deal stipulating that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime would destroy its chemical arsenal to avert an American military assault.
Wikipedia describes Saddam Hussein’s pre-US Invasion evacuation of WMDs to Syria as a “conjecture.”
John Loftus, director of The Intelligence Summit, said in the November 16, 2007 issue of FrontPage Magazine that many documents from Iraq point to WMD being transferred to other countries such as Syria: “As stated in more detail in my full report, the British, Ukrainian and American secret services all believed that the Russians had organized a last minute evacuation of CW and BW stockpiles from Baghdad to Syria.” His researchers allegedly found a document ordering the concealment of nuclear weapons equipment in storage facilities under the Euphrates River a few weeks before the invasion.
Former Iraqi general Georges Sada claimed that in late 2002, Saddam had ordered all of his stockpiles to be moved to Syria. He appeared on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes in January 2006 to discuss his book, Saddam’s Secrets: How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein. Anticipating the arrival of weapon inspectors on November 1, Sada said Saddam took advantage of the June 4 Zeyzoun Dam disaster in Syria by forming an “air bridge”, loading them onto cargo aircraft and flying them out of the country.
They were moved by air and by ground, 56 sorties by jumbo, 747, and 27 were moved, after they were converted to cargo aircraft, they were moved to Syria.
In January 2004, Nizar Nayuf, a Syrian journalist who moved to Western Europe, said in a letter to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he knows the three sites where Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are kept inside Syria. According to Nayuf’s witness, described as a senior source inside Syrian military intelligence he had known for two years, Iraq’s WMD are in tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria, in the village of Tal Snan, north of the town of Salamija, where there is a big Syrian air force camp, and in the city of Sjinsjar on the Syrian border with the Lebanon, south of Homs city. Nayouf also wrote that the transfer of Iraqi WMD to Syria was organized by the commanders of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard, including General Shalish, with the help of Assef Shawkat, Bashar Assad’s cousin. Shoakat is the CEO of Bhaha, an import/export company owned by the Assad family. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded to this accusation by saying “I don’t think we are at the point that we can make a judgment on this issue. There hasn’t been any hard evidence that such a thing happened. But obviously we’re going to follow up every lead, and it would be a serious problem if that, in fact, did happen.”
A similar claim was made by Lieutenant General Moshe Ya’alon, a former Israeli officer who served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from July 2002 to June 2005. In April 2004, he was quoted as saying that “perhaps they transferred them to another country, such as Syria.” General Ya’alon told the New York Sun more firmly in December 2005 that “He [Saddam] transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria.” The Fall 2005 Middle East Quarterly also reported Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as having said in a December, 2002 appearance on Israel’s Channel 2, “…chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria.”
In February 2006, Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti, a former Iraqi general who defected shortly before the Gulf War in 1991, gave an interview to Ryan Mauro, author of Death to America: The Unreported Battle of Iraq and founder of WorldThreats. In the interview, al-Tikriti, who was once known as the “Butcher of Basra”, told Mauro:
I know Saddam’s weapons are in Syria due to certain military deals that were made going as far back as the late 1980s that dealt with the event that either capitals were threatened with being overrun by an enemy nation. Not to mention I have discussed this in-depth with various contacts of mine who have confirmed what I already knew. At this point Saddam knew that the United States were eventually going to come for his weapons and the United States wasn’t going to just let this go like they did in the original Gulf War. He knew that he had lied for this many years and wanted to maintain legitimacy with the pan Arab nationalists. He also has wanted since he took power to embarrass the West and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. After Saddam denied he had such weapons why would he use them or leave them readily available to be found? That would only legitimize President Bush, whom he has a personal grudge against. What we are witnessing now is many who opposed the war to begin with are rallying around Saddam saying we overthrew a sovereign leader based on a lie about WMD. This is exactly what Saddam wanted and predicted.
Al-Tikriti’s interview was featured prominently on conservative web sites such as FrontPageMag and WorldNetDaily, but did not receive main stream press attention. Salon magazine editor Alex Koppelman doubts both Sada’s and al-Tikriti’s story, arguing that Syria’s decision to side with the coalition against Iraq in 1990 would have nullified any previous military deals.
The Iraq Survey Group was told that Saddam Hussein periodically removed guards from the Syrian border and replaced them with his intelligence agents who then supervised the movement of banned materials between Syria and Iraq, according to two unnamed defense sources that spoke with The Washington Times. They reported heavy traffic in large trucks on the border before the United States invasion. Earlier, in a telephone interview with The Daily Telegraph, the former head of the Iraqi Survey Group, David Kay, said: “[W]e know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD program. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.” Satellite imagery also picked up activity on the Iraq-Syria border before and during the invasion. James R. Clapper, who headed the National Imagery and Mapping Agency in 2003, has said U.S. intelligence tracked a large number of vehicles, mostly civilian trucks, moving from Iraq into Syria. Clapper suggested the trucks may have contained materiel related to Iraq’s WMD programs.
ISG formed a special working group to investigate and consider these claims. Charles Duelfer, head of inspectorate at time of publication, summarized the group’s conclusion: “Based on the evidence available at present, ISG judged that it was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place. However, ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials.”