Iraqi defector 'Curveball' admits WMD lies
Published 16/02/2011 | 09:24
An Iraqi defector code-named "Curveball", whose statements convinced the CIA and the Bush administration that Iraq had secret biological weapons, has admitted for the first time that he lied.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who fled Iraq in 1995, confessed that he made up the stories of mobile bio-weapons trucks and clandestine factories in Iraq in an attempt to bring down Saddam Hussein's regime.
The defector said that he watched in horror as his claims were lapped up by the Bush administration and used to justify the invasion of the country in 2003.
"Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right," Mr al-Janabi said. "They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime.
"I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy."
He claimed that American officials suggested that his co-operation would make it easier for his Moroccan-born wife and child to join him in Germany.
Mr al-Janabi initially spoke to the German secret service, the BND, but the information was passed to the CIA and was eventually included in a notorious 2003 speech at the United Nations by Colin Powell, then US Secretary of State.
He said that when he complained to his German handlers that they had violated an agreement not to pass his information to a third country, he was silenced and placed in lockdown for around 90 days.
Mr al-Janabi, who had previously maintained his claims were true, made his admissions in a series of interviews in Germany, where he has been granted asylum.
He said he had told a German official, who he identified as Dr Paul, about mobile bio-weapons trucks in 2000.
The BND identified him as a Baghdad-trained chemical engineer and approached him in March that year looking for information about Saddam's regime.
"I had a problem with the Saddam regime," he said. "I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance."
Mr al-Janabi portrayed the BND as gullible and so eager to elicit details from him that they gave him a Perry's Chemical Engineering Handbook to help communicate.
"They were asking me about pumps for filtration, how to make detergent after the reaction," he said. "Any engineer who studied in this field can explain or answer any question they asked."